Schoolgirls 'pressured' into abortion to meet teen birth target

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The health service was accused yesterday of putting pressure on schoolgirls to have abortions to help the Government to meet its target to reduce teenage pregnancies.

The health service was accused yesterday of putting pressure on schoolgirls to have abortions to help the Government to meet its target to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Abortion rates among under-18s have risen steeply since 1998, when the Government introduced a target to cut teenage pregnancies.

MPs and anti-abortion campaigners fear health advisers have been steering teenagers to terminate their pregnancies to help to reduce the number of teenage mothers.

Ann Widdecombe, a former Tory minister, said: "There is no doubt a school of thought that the answer to pregnancy is abortion and therefore the pressure on teenagers is immense because most are not ready for motherhood."

Between 1998 and 2001 pregnancies among under-18s in England dropped by 6.5 per cent from 41,089 to 38,439 a year. At the same time, the number of abortions increased from 17,300 to 17,700, or from 42 per cent to 46 per cent.

In under-16s, the number of pregnancies fell from 7,885 to 7,396 between 1998 and 2001 while the proportion having abortions rose from 53 per cent to 56 per cent.

The Department of Health said its target was to halve the under-18 conception rate by 2010 and the increasing percentage of abortions would not affect the target.

"The increase in the percentage of conceptions ending in abortion is likely to reflect the increasing provision of well- publicised, accessible contraceptive and advice services for young people," a spokesman said. "These services provide unbiased information and counselling so that pregnant teenagers can make the right choice for their personal circumstances. The decision whether or not to have an abortion is between the young woman and the doctor."

Comments