Scotland

Abortion rate highest for five years

woman taking pregnancy test Image copyright Getty Images

The number of medical abortions carried out in Scotland last year was the highest for five years, official figures showed.

In 2017 there were 12,212 terminations, a rise of 1% on the previous year.

Termination rates in the most deprived areas were twice as high as those in more affluent districts.

The figures also showed women in remote rural areas remained at a disadvantage when accessing termination services early in pregnancy.

Across Scotland, the government's target for 70% of women requiring abortions to have the procedure while less than nine weeks pregnant was exceeded, at 72.1%.

However, the target was missed in Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Highland, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland and NHS Western Isles.

In October last year women in Scotland became the first in the UK to be allowed to take the abortion pill at home. These figures showed 58 women in Scotland did so.

Challenging legislation

The majority of the women were treated in NHS Lothian.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland is challenging the legislation change at the Court of Session.

The statistics showed termination rates in the most deprived areas remained almost double those in the most affluent neighbourhoods, at 16.2 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, compared with 8.2 in more prosperous areas.

Girls under 16 had the lowest rate of abortions for the fourth year running, at 1.3 per 1,000 women aged 13-15.

Women aged 20-24 accounted for more terminations than any other age group at 28.6%, but rates for all women under 24 fell in 2017 while those for older age groups increased.

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