According to official figures, the number of teenagers in the United Kingdom who have second abortions exceeds 100 a month. More than 18,000 girls under 18 years or age had abortions in 2005, including at least one girl who had at least six abortions, say the Department of Health records. Some 1,316 girls under 18 years had a second abortion while 90 girls had a third.
In the 18-to 24-year-old group, 16,474 had a second abortion while 3,060 had a third.
Some 44 women (20 under the age of 30) had their eighth abortion in 2005.
Critics of the government’s decision to make the abortifacient morning-after pill (MAP) and sex education more available to youngsters said the alarming statistics add weight to their argument that the promotion of these two factors actually encourages teenagers to have sex.
The government believes greater access to contraception is going to reduce the demand for abortions, a Department of Health spokesman said, “We are working hard to raise awareness of the importance of open access to services that offer the full range of contraceptive methods.”
The spokesman also said the government believed their teenage pregnancy strategy was working, claiming that between 1998 and 2004 the under-18 conception rate had fallen by 11.1% and the under-16 rate by 15.2%. “Both rates are now at their lowest levels for 20 years.”
But a study by doctors from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine disagreed, saying that the number of teens under the age of 18 having abortions has increased by more than 7% since 1999 when the government launched its teenage pregnancy strategy.
Official statistics now also show an increased number of girls under-14 becoming pregnant. Experts say the government did not meet the challenge of cutting the 1998 level of under-18 pregnancies by 15%.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, an independent think-tank conducting research into the causes and effects of family breakdown and seeking to promote responsible attitudes to marriage and family life, said that in its zeal to promote contraception as the mark of sexual responsibility, the sex education establishment had “cheapened sex and lost sight of its purpose as an expression of the total self-giving of a husband and wife to each other in the context of lifelong marriage.”
He continued, “Parents have a major part to play in protecting children from sexual imagery in the media and mitigating peer pressure, but their role is being hampered by government policy.”
Doctors will not say how many abortions a women can safely have, but generally the medical view is that the more times the cervix undergoes stress from abortions, the more likely it may be injured.
See the Source: Sarah Womack, “100 teenagers a month having second abortion,” Telegraph.co.uk, 22 December 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/22/nteens22.xml; Family Education Trust website, http://www.2-in-2-1.co.uk/services/fameduc/