Health

Fall in teenage abortion rates continues, figures show

Abortion

Abortions carried out on women living in England and Wales fell 2.5% to 185,122 last year, Department of Health figures show.

For women aged 15-44, the abortion rate was down 5.4% to 16.5 per 1,000 women - the lowest since 1997.

From information included in abortion forms in 2012, almost half were medically-induced using drugs as opposed to surgery - similar to 2011.

Among under-18s, the abortion rate continued to fall last year.

The number of teenagers having abortions has been on a downward trend for the past five years. Between 2011 and 2012, the under-18 abortion rate fell again from 15 to 12.8 per 1,000.

The Department of Health report on the 2012 statistics said that 91% of abortions were carried out before the 13th week of pregnancy.

It also noted that fewer abortions were carried out on women from other countries, such as Ireland, than in any year since 1969.

Last year, non-residents accounted for 5,850 abortions.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said the drop in the number of teenagers experiencing an unwanted pregnancy could reflect improvements in access to contraception for young people.

In older age groups the fall in abortions could indicate that women are better able to avoid unplanned pregnancy in the first place, it said.

No stereotypes

Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, said: "Abortion is a fact of life and there is no 'right number' of abortions. What matters is that every woman with an unplanned pregnancy is able to make the choice that is right for her and access the care that she needs.

"These statistics confirm that women who have abortions do not fit the stereotype of 'the feckless teenager'. Women of all ages and from all walks of life experience unplanned pregnancy."

But a spokesperson from ProLife Alliance said the drop was "sadly very small".

"Once again we highlight that the majority of abortions performed in the UK are covered, read 'hidden' under Ground C, which covers the mental health of the pregnant woman.

"The Department of Health itself acknowledges that there are no further breakdown categories in relationship to women's mental health available through the International Classification of Diseases, so they are unable to demand or provide any greater detail."

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