Abortion rate in Scotland falls for second year

image captionMore abortions were carried out in early pregnancy

The number of medical abortions performed in Scotland has fallen for the second year running, according to official figures.

The continuing reduction marked a departure from the upward trend in terminations since the legalisation of abortion in 1967.

Young women, aged 20-24, had the highest rate of terminations.

Abortion rates in areas of deprivation continued to be twice as high as those in the most affluent areas.

In 2010, the number of abortions carried out in Scotland was 12,826.

The figure for 2009 was 13,108, and the 2008 total was 13,902.

Deprivation factor

Since the implementation of the 1967 Abortion Act the trend has been one of steady increase, although NHS Scotland's Information Services Division pointed out that there had been small dips for short periods before.

The rate of terminations continued to be highest in younger women, peaking in the age group 20-24. At this age, the rate was 22.4 per 1,000.

The 2010 figures showed that a greater proportion of the abortions were carried out in early pregnancy.

A total of 65.2% were performed at less than nine weeks, compared with 62.2% in 2009.

Abortion continued to be most common in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

In areas of high deprivation, the overall rate was 16.0 per 1,000 women. In the least deprived areas, the rate was 9.2 per 1,000.

Of the women who had a termination in 2010, more than a quarter had undergone the procedure at least once before.

Education drive

The highest rate for repeat abortions was in the NHS Tayside area, where 35.2% of the women who had terminations in 2010 had previously undergone abortions.

Tayside also had the highest rate of terminations, at 14.7 per 1,000.

The overall fall in abortions has been welcomed by the Scottish government.

A spokesman said: "It is encouraging to see a reduction in the number of terminations for all age groups in Scotland for the second year running.

"Education has a key role to play in reducing unintended pregnancies and, with the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence in August last year, children and young people learn, as part of a broad health and well-being curriculum strand, about relationships, sexual health and parenthood."

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