Tuesday 25 May 2010

Good news - today's abortion statistics

I was really happy to see the abortion statistics published by the Department of Health today. They show reductions in the abortion rates for women of all ages. Since it is unlikely that women had less sex in 2009 than they did the year before, it probably means that men and women are using contraception more regularly and more effectively and getting offered a better choice of contraceptive methods – good news! For those women who did access abortion the statistics show that services for women are improving too. 94% of abortions were paid for by the NHS and a massive 91% were carried out before 13 weeks into pregnancy .

The figure that shows an increasing proportion of abortions taking place earlier in pregnancy definitely brings a smile to my face. The earlier abortions happen, the safer they are, and the easier to access. Young women are often the last to seek help because they’re scared, lack knowledge or are in denial about their pregnancy, so getting them into services earlier is a challenge we’ve been helping professionals to meet all over the country.

Just in case you wondered, I’m not complacent. Most abortions happen because the women didn’t intend to get pregnant at that point in her life. That’s a lot of people who still aren’t getting support from partners and professionals to use contraception successfully and of course there’s still that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we are all searching for – the perfect contraceptive method...

No Sir, these figures don’t make me want to put my feet up and light a fat cigar. There’s so much more to do to make sure young people are given accurate information about pregnancy prevention, pregnancy choices and abortion. Education For Choice is one of dozens of organisations which rue the day the Government failed to give us statutory sex education. We still visit students in schools who have been given presentations by anti-choice organisations who quite deliberately misinform and distress them. Young women seeking abortion after 12 weeks, in all but a few large cities, are most likely to have to travel substantial distances to get an abortion – which is extremely difficult for those with no parental or partner support. In a nutshell , there’s still loads to do and these statistics are just showing slight improvements across all areas. Those improvements have been hard won with professional commitment and substantial investment. Let’s hope the money and commitment continue so we can celebrate again next year.

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