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England and Wales abortion rates continue to rise

The number of abortions in England and Wales has risen slightly for the second year running, according to new figures.

There were 189,931 abortions performed for women resident in England and Wales in 2011, a 0.2% rise on the 189,574 figure in 2010 and 7.7% more than the 176,364 total in 2001, statistics published on the Department of Health website have shown.

The rise comes after the 2010 figure also registered a small increase on the previous year - up 0.3% on the 189,100 total in 2009.

In spite of the increase, the abortion rate last year remained unchanged on the 2010 figure at 17.5 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years old.

The abortion rate was highest at 33 per 1,000 for women aged 20, unchanged on the 2010 and 2001 figures.

But teenage pregnancy rates registered a fall with the under-16 abortion rate standing at 3.4 per 1,000 and the under-18 rate at 15 per 1,000 women in 2011.

Both figures were lower than the 2010 and 2001 rates - at 3.9 per 1,000 for under 16s and 16.5 per 1,000 women under 18 in 2010 and 3.7 and 18 per 1,000 women respectively in 2001.

The vast majority of abortions, 91%, were carried out last year at under 13 weeks, with more than three quarters, or 78%, performed at under 10 weeks.

A breakdown of the figures showed that there were 1,000 abortions in 2011 performed on girls under 15 years old, less than 1% of the total, and 683 to women aged 45 or more, less than half a per cent of the total.

In 2011, 36% of women undergoing abortions had one or more previous abortions, a figure that has risen from 31% since 2001. More than a quarter, or 26%, of abortions to women aged under 25 years old were repeat abortions.

There were 6,151 abortions for women who are not resident in England and Wales carried out in hospitals and clinics in England and Wales in 2011 compared to 6,535 in 2010. the 2011 figure was the lowest in any year since 1969.

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