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BPAS conference press release ‘Why do women have repeat abortion?’

Published 26 June 2008

Please see below for comment from today’s conference of the sexual and reproductive healthcare charity BPAS (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service), ‘The Future of Abortion: Controversies & Care', on the issue of repeat abortions.  

The Rt Hon Dawn Primarolo MP commented on this issue in her opening speech to the BPAS conference on Wednesday 25 June, saying that ‘We need to continue to reduce the number of young women having unplanned pregnancies which lead to abortion and we also need to continue to tackle the rising trends in the number of repeat abortions.’

In fact, 2007’s abortion statistics for England and Wales showed that repeat abortions had not in fact seen risen since 2006, remaining static at 32% of all abortions and at similar levels for the past five years. 


Dr Sam Rowlands, Senior Lecturer at Warwick Medical School, said

‘Women can have more than one abortion because- even with motivation and good contraception- more than one unintended pregnancy can occur in a reproductive career spanning 35 years with 450 menstrual cycles.   

‘Women who have more than one abortion are more likely to have lower socioeconomic status and to be recent immigrants. Women who have more than one abortion have been shown to use contraception just as well as those who have one abortion. There is no suggestion that abortion is widely used as a primary method of fertility control; it is used almost entirely as a back up to contraception.   

‘A vanishingly small proportion of women have more than two abortions.  If you introduce legal abortion, then this will happen in any society. The proportion of repeats increases for a time after legalisation and then levels off after about 30 years. I do not see this as a problem.’




For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact the BPAS press office on 07788 725 185.

BPAS, (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has been providing health services since 1968. BPAS’ conference ‘The Future of Abortion: Controversies & Care' is on Wednesday 25 June - Thursday 26 June at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster. Please see the conference website ( for more details and a full conference programme. 

Department of Health statistics for 2007 in England and Wales showed that 23% of women aged under 25 having an abortion had already had one abortion. As in 2006, in the general cohort of women having abortions in England and Wales in 2007, 32% of women had had one or more previous abortion. For more detail please see the DH website:

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