The publication of the 2009 abortion statistics from the Department of Health reveals that the number of abortions for women resident in England and Wales was 189,100 compared with 195,296 in 2008, a significant fall of 3.2%. The total figure, including those performed for non-residents, was 195,743, compared with 202,158 in 2008.
The vast majority of abortions are performed at under 13 weeks gestation. The latest data for 2009 show that progress continues to be made to increase early access: 74% of NHS funded abortions took place at under 10 weeks gestation compared with 51% in 2002.
In 2009, 94% of abortions were funded by the NHS; of these over half (60%) took place in the independent sector under NHS contract. In 2002, 78% of abortions were funded by the NHS; of these just over a third took place in the independent sector under NHS contract.
‘Marie Stopes International welcomes the significant fall in the overall number of abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2009. We are also pleased to note the major increase in early abortion over the seven year period since 2002. We congratulate the NHS for clear success in concerted efforts to improve early access to abortion services. NHS funded-providers such as Marie Stopes International who are able to provide fast access to abortion services are also contributing to supporting this trend towards earlier access.
The increased availability of medical abortion, carried out in the very early stages of pregnancy, has played an important role in increasing the proportion of abortions that are carried out prior to 10 weeks gestation.
We believe that increased take-up of Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive Methods (LARC) may have contributed to the drop in the abortion rate. These methods include the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) and the implant, and are less prone to failure through normal human fallibility. We congratulate Primary Care Trusts who are promoting LARCs. Dedicated sexual health services for teenagers can also play a key role in ensuring widespread use of LARC methods.
Marie Stopes International receives 350,000 per calls every year to its helpline. We provide information on a range of sexual health services from abortion to emergency contraception.
The new information campaign and TV advertisement for our 24hr dedicated and confidential helpline can improve public awareness of sexual health.
In order to reduce the incidence of unplanned pregnancy we need to ensure better access to impartial and confidential sexual health services.’