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07 / 12 / 2009 - 5,000 teenagers a year have repeat abortions
More than 5,000 teenagers had an abortion last year that was at least their second termination.
This means that one in 20 of the teenagers who became pregnant ended it with their second or further abortion.
It caused further controversy yesterday over the Government's teen pregnancy strategy, which has not only failed to hit its targets but last year also saw numbers of conceptions among teenagers actually increase.
Critics have accused ministers of relying increasingly on abortion to deal with teen pregnancy.
The latest figures – released to MPs by the Department of Health – show that repeat abortions have become common among teenagers.
They revealed that in 2008 there were 5,218 repeat abortions among girls under 20 in England, and a further 15,029 among those aged between 20 and 24.
Around one in 12 of abortions performed on teenagers were second or further repeat abortions.
The figures for repeat abortion among teenagers come amid a continuing rise in overall numbers of women having second or further abortions.
Last year nearly 65,000 women who had already had an abortion went through a second, third or further pregnancy termination.
For the first time women having repeat abortions made up more than a third of all those undergoing termination.
The scale of repeat abortion among teenagers brought criticism from opposition politicians and protests from pro-life campaigners last night.
Phyllis Bowman, of the Right To Life group, said: 'There is an enormous amount of evidence to show that efforts to provide young people with contraception in an effort to reduce numbers of pregnancies only leads to more and more abortions.
'It means that young women are more prepared to have sex because they know they can always get an abortion.
'That in turn leads to more sexual abuse of young women by men.' She added: 'I am prepared to bet that the figures for repeat abortions will be up again next year.
'Abortion has in effect become another form of contraception.'
Conservative health spokesman Anne Milton said that the figures 'demonstrate the Government's failure to produce a coherent and effective sexual health policy for England.
'Abortions can be incredibly traumatic for women, and terminating an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy can have a damaging effect on mental health,' she added.
She called for improved information about contraception for vulnerable young women.
Miss Milton added: 'The Government needs to get to the root causes of social breakdown which are causing so many unplanned pregnancies in the first place.'
The figures released to MPs also show that there are more repeat abortions in London than elsewhere, with one repeat abortion for every nine conceptions in London.
Department of Health records published earlier this year showed that in 2008 more than 11,000 women in England and Wales had their third abortion, and 3,750 had their fourth or further abortion.
MPs were given the latest figures after asking for a breakdown of the number of repeat abortions among the under-20s and the 20-24-year-olds. No figures were produced for previous years.
The Government's £300million Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has missed its targets so far and is certain to fail to reach its main goal – halving the 1998 rate of pregnancy among girls aged under 18 in England by 2010.
Last year rates went up and there were more than 40,000 under-18 conceptions in England.
Latest European comparisons show that Britain has overtaken France to become the abortion capital of Europe.
There were nearly 220,000 abortions in the UK in 2007, compared with around 210,000 in France.
Source: Steve Doughty - DAILY MAIL