Aberdeen abortion rates declining at second-highest rate in Scotland

In Aberdeen, there were 101 fewer abortions in 2017 compared to 2012.
In Aberdeen, there were 101 fewer abortions in 2017 compared to 2012.

Abortion rates in Aberdeen have declined at the second-highest rate in Scotland over the last decade.

Official figures show the number of abortions in Scotland overall are at the highest level for five years, but the longer-term trend is downward and the north-east is leading the way.

In Aberdeen, there were 101 fewer abortions in 2017 compared to 2012, and the combined total for Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highlands and Islands fell from 1,685 abortions in 2012 to 1,685 in 2017, a drop of 214.

A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian spokeswoman said the reduction was due to better sexual health education and efforts to promote long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), which include implants, injections and intrauterine devices, commonly known as the coil, and encouraged people to ask their doctor or family planning clinic for information.

“It’s encouraging the number of abortions in Grampian is steadily declining, particularly in younger women aged under 16,” she said.

“Continued effort to promote and to provide women with realistic information and advice on the use of LARC appears to be benefical.

“We recognise that for many young people, pregnancy can be a positive experience, but the use of LARC offers all women the opportunity to delay or time future pregnancies.”

Across Scotland, a total of 12,212 pregnancies were terminated in 2017, up 106 on the previous year, giving a rate of 11.8 per 1,000 women aged 15-44.

Official figures show that, following the legal change on October 27 last year enabling women to take medication to end pregnancies in their own home, 58 women in Scotland did so.

The majority of these women, who fulfilled the criteria to take the drug misoprostol at home as the second stage in an medical abortion, were treated in NHS Lothian.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland is challenging the legislation change at the Court of Session.

Statistics show termination rates in the most deprived areas remain almost double those in the most affluent neighbourhoods, at 16.2 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, compared to 8.2.

Girls under 16 had the lowest rate of abortions for the fourth year running, at 1.3 per 1,000 women aged 13-15.

Women aged 20-24 accounted for more terminations than any other age group at 28.6% but rates for all women under 24 fell in 2017 while those for older age groups increased.

Across Scotland, the target for 70% of abortions to be done before the ninth week of pregnancy was exceeded, at 72.1%.

However, in remote rural areas the number meeting this target fell to 66.5% from 69.9% in 2016, with the report stating women in these areas “remain at a disadvantage”.