More than a hundred teenage girls a month go into a hospital or clinic to have an abortion for the second time, figures from the Department of Health reveal. They include at least one girl under 18 who has had at least six abortions.
The statistics on multiple abortions in England and Wales, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, will provide fuel for those demanding stricter abortion laws.
They reveal that during 2005, 1,316 girls under 18 had their second abortion, and 90 were on their third.
There were 44 women who, by the end of last year, had undergone eight or more abortions, 20 of whom were under the age of 30.
The table, posted on the Department of Health website, obscures information on women under 30 who have had multiple abortions, to avoid the risk that a small number of teenagers could be identified. But it can be deduced from the tables that 14 women had had their sixth abortion before the age of 25, and that at least one was under 18.
Those who work directly with pregnant teenagers blamed the figures on poor sex education. Simon Blake, the chief executive of the charity Brook, which offers free sex advice to the young, said: "The small number of young women who need to have two or three abortions before they reach the age of 18 have clearly been failed by our education and health systems."
Claire Rayner, the president of the Patients' Association, said: "There isn't anybody I know who isn't disturbed by the thought of having to go through an abortion. If a child gets pregnant, it's a tragedy."
Despite the disturbing figures, the Department of Health believes it is making headway in reducing teenage pregnancies. Its strategy is based on persuading teenagers to delay their first sexual experience, but it also offers advice on health and contraception to "sexually active" 13-16 year olds, estimated to comprise between a quarter and a third of the total in the age group. A Department of Health statement claims: "Between 1998 and 2004, the under-18 conception rate has fallen by 11.1 per cent and the under-16 rate by 15.2 per cent. Both rates are now at their lowest levels for 20 years."
In total,186,416 abortions were performed in 2005, including more than 60,000 on women who had had a previous abortion.Reuse content