Scotland Abortion Statistics

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Abortion statistics are published annually and are derived from the Notifications to the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland under the Abortion Act 1967.

For access to Statistics for England and Wales visit the SPUC UK website statistics section.

Published Abortion Statistics – Year Ending 31 December 2012 (published 28 May 2013) – Summary

  • For the past four years there has been a fall in the number and rate of abortions with 12,447 in 2012 compared to 13,904 in 2008 (representing rates of 12.0 per 1000 women aged 15-44 in 2012, and 13.3 in 2008). This fall is a change to the overall pattern of increase since the implementation of the 1967 Abortion Act, although small dips for short periods have been observed before. Birth rates also peaked in 2008, but whereas there has been a 9.5% fall in abortion rates between 2008 and 2012, there has only been a 5.2% fall in live birth rates over this period.
  • The fall in abortion rates between the peak of 2008 and 2012 has been greatest in younger women, with a reduction of 27.5% in those aged 16 to 19.
  • Although there has been a recent marked reduction in abortions in younger women, the rate of terminations in 2012 is still highest in this group, at 17.8 per 1000 aged 16-19and 21.1 per 1000 in those aged 20-24. Lower rates are seen in the older age groups: women aged 25-29 (15.5 per 1000); aged 30-34 (11.2 per 1000); aged 35-39 (6.8 per 1000) and in women aged 40 and over (2.5 per 1000).
  • In 2012, the rate of abortions continues to show a clear link with the level of deprivation. In areas of high deprivation the rate is 16.1 per 1000, nearly double the rate of 8.6 per 1000 for the least deprived areas of Scotland.
  • Approaching a third (30.7%) of the 12,447 women having a termination in 2012 had a previous termination. The proportion of women having had a previous termination varies across mainland NHS boards from 26.9% in the NHS Fife to 36.8% in NHS Tayside. The Island boards (Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles) recorded the lowest proportion at 20.6%.
  • In 2012, the vast majority (11,761; 94.5%) of terminations were carried out under Ground C. There were 159 terminations carried out under Ground E “…substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped” of which 30 were for Down’s syndrome, 15 for anencephaly, 13 for musculoskeletal conditions and 12 for other chromosomal conditions.

To view the full report from NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division click here.

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