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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Abortion level at all-time high
Pills - generic
Most pregnancies were terminated by taking prescribed drugs
The number of abortions carried out in Scotland has reached an all-time high.

New figures show that 12,603 pregnancies were terminated in 2005, the highest level since abortion was made legal in 1967.

The NHS health board areas with the highest rates of termination were Tayside and the Lothians.

The lowest rates were found in Argyll and Clyde, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, according to health service statisticians.

The government's statistics agency said that there were 142 more abortions than in the previous year.

The figures also showed that teenage abortions reached a record level last year.

It is disappointing that there has been a rise in abortions for girls under 16
Dr Harry Burns
Chief medical officer

Some 3,304 abortions were carried out on women and girls under 20.

This was 86 more than in the previous year and 201 more than in 2003. Within this total the number of abortions carried out on girls under 16 also reached a new record of 341.

Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Harry Burns said: "It is disappointing that there has been a rise in abortions for girls under 16."

"Education also has a key role to play, which is why we are working with parents, schools and NHS Health Scotland to provide additional support and information around relationships and sexual health."

Surgical procedure

The statistics show that in 2005, the rate of termination for every 1,000 women aged 15 - 44 was 11.9, up from 10.9 in 1996.

The highest rates were in Tayside (16.4) and Lothian (14.1).

Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles had the lowest rate (4.9) with Argyll & Clyde next at 8.3.

About two-thirds of terminations were performed at less than 10 weeks, up from 55.8% in 1992, the figures showed.

The use of medical abortion, which involves termination of a pregnancy without a surgical procedure, continued to rise.

Almost 59% of terminations involved oral administration of a drug followed days later by internal administration of another drug.

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