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20 / 11 / 2009 - Britain the abortion capital of Europe: Terminations for teenagers leap by a third
More abortions are carried out in Britain than any other country in Europe, research has shown.
It has overtaken France - which has a larger population - to become the abortion capital of the continent.
The rising rate has been pushed up by abortions among teenage girls, which increased by nearly a third over the past decade.
Half of all pregnancies among girls under 18 in Britain end in abortion.
Anti-abortion campaigners said the figures were an indictment of the Government's teenage pregnancy strategy.
The figures, collated by a European pressure group, showed that the 219,336 abortions carried out in England, Wales and Scotland in 2007 topped the 209,699 in France to put Britain at the top of the abortion count for the first time.
Both countries remain far ahead of the other nations where abortion is frequent, including Romania, at just over 150,000, Italy, with 127,000, and Spain, 112,000.
Abortion numbers are rising fastest in Spain, but from a much lower base than in Britain.
By contrast, abortion numbers in France have remained virtually steady for the last ten years.
The figures were collated by the Institute for Family Policies from those collected by the European Union's statistical arm Eurostat.
The Norway-based pro-family pressure group presented them to the European Parliament yesterday as part of a report on developments in family life.
It said the annual number of abortions in the EU equals the combined population of its ten smallest member states.
More than half occurred in Britain, France and Romania.
Britain was the country where most teenage girls have abortions - 48,150 abortions among girls under 20 in 2007 against 31,779 in France.
The group said of the overall figures: 'Declines in Germany and Italy, and stagnation in France, are remarkable.'
Britain now ranks fifth in the world for the number of abortions, behind Russia, the U.S., India and Japan.
Abortion campaigners blamed Labour's policies, and in particular its Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, based on promoting sex education and contraception.
Phyllis Bowman of Right to Life said: 'These are not surprising figures.
The Government is not so much running a Teenage Pregnancy Strategy as a Teenage Abortion Strategy.
Conceptions are not going down and abortion is going up, exactly the reverse of what was supposed to happen.
'Britain will continue to have record abortion levels until ministers recognise the idiocy of these policies.'
The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has cost more than £300million.
But in 2007 pregnancies among girls under 18 in England and Wales went up, not down, and targets for halving 1998 conception levels by next year appear far beyond reach.
Teenagers who become pregnant are increasingly turning to abortion.
Many of them are thought to be girls who aspire to education and a career rather than a life of single motherhood on benefits.
Ministers said yesterday they believe abortions and conceptions among teenagers are set to fall.
Children's Minister Dawn Primarolo said: 'The trends in the data for 2008 and under-18 conception data for the first two quarters of 2008 give me confidence that we will see a return to the downward trend established between 1998 and 2006.'
Source: Steve Doughty - Daily Mail