Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 18:05 UK

Disappointment over abortion rise


More than 13,000 abortions were carried out in Scotland last year

The Scottish Government has expressed disappointment after the number of abortions being carried out in Scotland rose to an all-time high last year.

There were 13,817 terminations in 2008, an increase of 79 on the previous year.

Almost 3,500 were carried out on teenagers and 343 were performed on girls aged under 16.

The rise is in contrast to England, where recent statistics revealed that the number of abortions had fallen for the first time in three years.

The highest rate in Scotland was in Tayside, while the lowest was in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

We're developing a marketing campaign... which will focus on encouraging people to talk to their partner about their sexual health
Shona Robison
Public Health Minister

Women aged between 20 and 24 had the highest abortion rate across the country.

Scottish Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: "It is disappointing that there has been a rise in the number of abortions carried out in Scotland.

"Education 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.

"As part of this, we're developing a marketing campaign, supported by a national website, for the adult population which will focus on encouraging people to talk to their partner about their sexual health."

The NHS figures said a total of 4,278 abortions were performed on women aged 20 to 24, while there were 462 on women aged 40 and over.

Highest rate

The overall abortion rate for 2008 in Scotland was 13.1 for every 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44.

In the NHS Tayside area - where the rate was highest - the proportion rose to 15.7 for every 1,000 women in the same age group.

The rates were 14.4 in NHS Lothian and 14.3 in NHS Grampian.

This compares with a rate of 5.7 in the three island boards.

The rate of abortions continued to show a clear link with the level of deprivation.

According to the statistics, areas of high deprivation had abortion rates of 18.1 per 1,000 women, double the rate of nine per 1,000 for the least deprived areas.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Cardinal O'Brien said the abortion figures shamed everyone

A total of 3,770 abortions were carried out on women who had previously had a termination.

However, the proportion varied widely across health boards, from 17.9% in NHS Borders to 32% in NHS Tayside.

The proportion of early terminations has also been rising steadily in recent years, with 56.8% of all terminations performed at less than nine weeks in 2008.

The latest figures for England and Wales showed a 1.6% drop in the number of abortions carried out in 2008 - the first fall in three years and the largest drop since 1999.

Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said the figures "shame and debase us all".

"The 2008 abortion statistics confirm the abject failure of the so-called 'sexual health strategy' of recent years," he said.

"In 2007 I claimed that we kill the equivalent of a classroom full of school children every day and many objected to the vehemence of my language.

"Grotesquely, since then we have seen classroom sizes in Scotland fall and abortion numbers rise."

He said more than 50 abortions took place every day in Scotland - the same number as two classrooms of children.

"Were this carnage to take place among children lucky enough to have been born our outrage would be boundless," he added.

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Increase in abortions in Scotland
29 May 07 |  Scotland


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