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Abortion statistics released today show an increase in abortions to older women in Scotland

Abortion statistics released today show an increase in abortions to older women in Scotland.
• Over the past 5 years, abortion rates among younger women have declined, but increased among women aged 25+ in Scotland.
• Between 2014 and 2015, the biggest increase in abortion rates was to women aged 35-39.
• The proportion of women ending a pregnancy who are already mothers has also increased since from 47.1% in 2010 to 51.7% in 2015.

Statistics released today by the Information Service Division show that the abortion rate in Scotland is stable. Of those having a termination, the majority (51.7%) were already mothers, and the abortion rate among older age groups continues to increase.

Since 2010, abortion rates for those under 25 have fallen while increasing for those aged 25 and over. Over the last 5 years the abortion rate to women aged 16-19 has decreased from 20.8 terminations per 1,000 women in this age group in 2010 to 14.6 in 2015, and the rate has also fallen from 22.4 in 2010 to 19.5 for women aged 20-24. Among those aged under-16, the rate has more than halved, falling from 3.5 in 2010 to 1.6 in 2015. The most significant increase between 2014 and 2015 was to women aged 35-39, with the abortion rate rising from 6.4 in 2010 to 8.1 in 2015 - a 17.5% increase.

There are concerns that older women are finding it increasingly difficult to access contraception, with some services restricted to younger women. Increasingly prevalent infertility warnings may also be contributing to rising abortion rates among older women, as campaigns and stories about the difficulties conceiving later in life have a significant impact on women’s perception of their fertility - and therefore their use of contraception. Of the women attending bpas clinics for unplanned pregnancy advice, those aged over-30 were less likely to have been using a method of contraception when they conceived than those aged under-30.

Ann Furedi, bpas Chief Executive, commented:

“Over the past 5 years, we have seen an increase in abortion rates among older women while decreasing among those aged under 25. Indeed over the last year, the most significant increase was to women aged 35-39. Much work has been done to improve access to contraception for those under-20, but we must ensure this is not at the expense of services for older women. Women do not stop having sex at 30, and nor does fertility fall off a cliff at 35. These figures demonstrate that it remains extremely important that women of all reproductive ages have access to high quality contraceptive services that meet their needs across their lifetimes.

“All women who are legally entitled to an abortion should be able to access care as swiftly and as close to home as possible. Unfortunately, at bpas we regularly see women from Scotland at bpas clinics in England who were unable to access abortion care locally, and in particular women at later gestations. The very high proportion of medical terminations – accounting for 81.1% of all abortions performed in Scotland in 2015, compared to 55% in England and Wales - may also be reflective of difficulties accessing surgical procedures. Now that abortion law has been devolved, the Scottish government have a real opportunity to create a legal framework fit for the 21st century by removing abortion from the criminal law and regulating it like other women’s healthcare procedures. In the meantime, we urge minister to work to ensure all women are able to access the care that they need locally. Women in Scotland deserve nothing less.”


For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377 or email press@bpas.org

About bpas
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.