Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 10:10 UK

Abortion increase in young girls

Anne Quesney from Marie Stopes International on the rise

The number of abortions among girls aged under 16 rose by 10% to 4,376 in 2007, official figures for England and Wales show.

In the under 14s, abortions rose by 21% from 135 in 2006 to 163 last year.

The number of abortions in all women rose by 2.5% to reach an all time high of almost 200,000.

Government advisers called for high quality sex education at school and investment in contraception services for young people.

Scotland has also seen a rise in the number of abortions with figures published in May showing there were 13,703 carried out in 2007 compared with 13,163 in 2006.

The number of abortions carried out has been rising ever since the 1967 Abortion Act - with just over 22,000 terminations in the first year.

In the past decade, the number of abortions in the under 16s has risen by 27%.

But at the same time the teenage pregnancy rate has fallen.

Early-stage

Some 90% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks' gestation and 70% were at under 10 weeks, a slight increase on last year's figures.

We need high quality sex and relationships education at school and at home and effective contraception
Gill Frances, Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group

A total of 198,499 abortions were carried out in 2007.

The number of terminations carried out using the "abortion pill" was 35% up from 30% in 2006.

Around 1% of abortions were carried out on the grounds that the child would be born disabled.

Gill Frances, chair of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group, said: "We know what works to reduce abortion amongst teenagers.

"We need high quality sex and relationships education at school and at home and effective contraception.

"Primary Care Trusts must ensure they are investing in contraceptive services for young people."

She added that PCTs had been given £13m to improve contraceptive services but because the money had not been ring-fenced there was a danger it would be spent on other services.

Abortion graph

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the figures showed considerable progress in reducing waiting times for abortion, with two-thirds of women now having a termination at under 10 weeks.

She added: "Contraception plays a vital role in preventing teenage pregnancy and earlier this year I announced a further investment of £26.8m to improve women's access to contraception and help reduce the number of abortions, repeat abortions and teenage pregnancies."

Precautions

Claire Curtis Thomas MP, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group said: "These figures show that far from further liberalising the law as some MPs want to do, there is a real need to tighten it up, to show a greater regard for the unborn child.

"The numbers of UK abortions are truly horrifying.

"We should be putting all our effort into reducing these numbers through sensible precautions such as offering a full range of information to women considering abortion."

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "Much more needs to be done to equip young people to deal with the complexities of their personal relationships and to empower them to ask for high quality, user-friendly forms of contraception without embarrassment.

Julie Bentley, chief executive at the FPA (Family Planning Association) said sex and relationship education should be compulsory in every school.

"Younger women are making different choices about their lives and choosing abortion over motherhood, but education and contraceptive services will stop them becoming pregnant in the first place."




SEE ALSO
Abortion: The medical evidence
20 May 08 |  Health
Plan to increase abortion sites
07 May 08 |  Health
Abortion numbers increase again
19 Jun 07 |  Health
Doctors back 'easier' abortions
27 Jun 07 |  Health

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