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Abortions rise in Scotland to second-highest level on record

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Scotland has reported its second-highest annual abortion figure on record.

Public Health Scotland announced Aug. 25 that 13,583 abortions were performed in 2019, with a termination rate of 13.2 per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44.

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK, said: “Every one of these 13,583 abortions is a tragic loss of life.”

Last year’s figure is the highest since 2008 and represents an increase of 297 from 2018 when there were 13,286 abortions.

More than half of women undergoing abortions in 2019 were in their 20s. Abortion rates in the 40-plus age group have risen steadily from 256 in 1985 to 581 terminations in 2019 -- the highest ever level.

Almost half of medical abortions in 2019 involved the self-administration of the drug misoprostol at home. 

Robinson said that Scotland’s abortion figure was likely to be even higher in 2020. 

“A change of guidelines in 2018, which allows women to take the second set of abortion pills involved in a medical abortion out of clinical settings accounted for nearly 50% of medical abortions in 2019. This is up from nearly 30% in 2018, but is likely to further increase next year when 2020 statistics are published due to a change in guidance allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

“Additionally, abortion activists continue to push for the removal of all safeguards in abortion law and want to see abortion available on demand, right up to the point of birth.”

In its annual report, Public Health Scotland said that there continued to be a “strong association” between deprivation and abortion rates in Scotland, which has a population of around 5.5 million.

Michael Robinson, director of communications at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said: “Women from Scotland’s most deprived areas are over two times more likely to undergo an abortion compared to women from Scotland’s least deprived areas.” 

“This is a shocking symbol of inequality which is totally unacceptable in a 21st-century society. So often, women are pushed and pressured towards making a choice for a number of societal reasons such as finances, unstable relationships or employment.” 

Right To Life UK’s spokesperson said: “Polling shows large majorities of women in the UK support changes to our abortion laws that would have a positive impact on lowering the number of abortions. Seventy percent of women want the current time limit on abortion to be lowered and 91% of women want a ban on sex-selective abortion.”

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“We are calling on the Scottish Government to urgently bring forward sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies. This would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year.”

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