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1601 image news

Number of women having repeat abortions is on the increase

ITV reported in early November that the number of women having repeat abortions is on the increase. @ In its report, ITV comments that 383 abortions were carried out on women for whom it was at least their fourth abortion in the West Midlands alone. The data used in the report was published by the Department of Health in June 2015 @, relating to figures submitted for 2014, and makes for concerning reading. The overall number of abortions was marginally down on previous years at 184,571; “this was 0.4% less than in 2013 (185,311) and 0.6% less than in 2004 (185,713).”page 5  However, the number of women undergoing repeat abortions (one or more) had risen from 32% in 2004 to 37% in 2014. The data sets published with the report also include a category for women who had had 8 or more abortions prior to the one being reported in 2014. Table 4b In the age 30 or over category, there were 39 women to whom this applied, which raises many questions.

The commentary provided in the report does not include much discussion as it is not within its remit, but it is worrying to find there are women who have had to experience an abortion this number of times and suggests that maybe abortion is being increasingly seen as alternative method of contraception. This is the view presented by the ITV report which includes a quotation from a representative of Marie Stopes who says “for the majority of women it was more often short-term methods of contraception, such as the condom and contraceptive pill which have failed them.” However, the other viewpoint, provided by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service is more sympathetic;

“A small number of women will experience unwanted pregnancy on a number of occasions over their lifetimes. The reasons for this will be as diverse as the women they are…it’s extremely important that women do not feel stigmatised for an unwanted pregnancy – be it their first or third, or feel they cannot seek the help they need.”

It is not simply enough to ‘condemn’ the women who find themselves in such a situation as this the first time round, let alone the second, fifth, or eighth, but to provide such ‘help’. Whilst BPAS may actually be advocating for easier access to abortion and less stigma attached to it by providing such a comment, they ironically pinpoint exactly what is needed; women need help when they find themselves in what feels like an impossible situation –  help to research all their options, help using counselling skills and help in pursuing other options that do not necessarily lead to an abortion. If you would like to train to offer such help, think about joining image's Pregnancy Counselling Skills Course due to start at the end of January.