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11 July 2013

July digest: National abortion statistics - commentary and analysis

This month's top stories on Reproductive Review.

- 1. UK: ABORTION STATISTICS 2012

The Department of Health’s annual statistics have been released, showing a fall of 2.5% in the number of abortions. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) commented:

The rate of abortion is at its lowest level for 16 years. There has been a notable drop in the number of teenagers experiencing unwanted pregnancy, which may reflect continuing improvements in access to contraception for young people. In older age groups the fall may indicate that women are better able to avoid unplanned pregnancy in the first place, but women may also be making different choices when faced with such a pregnancy.

The statistics also show the continuing rise in the proportion of women having abortions who are already mothers (52%). The majority of women ending pregnancies are in relationships (66%) The rate of ‘repeat’ abortion has risen by 1 percentage point, in keeping with trends in other developed countries such as France and Sweden. This is to be expected as more women delay motherhood during their highly fertile 20s, when contraception is more likely to let them down. Women expect to control both the timing and size of their families, and may be exposed to unwanted pregnancy more than one during a 30-year reproductive life span.

BPAS is concerned to see the first fall in the proportion of abortions carried out before 10 weeks. This is surprising given improvements in early pregnancy testing and access to Early Medical Abortion which can be carried out at some of the earliest gestations. This development needs monitoring to ensure that women are not experiencing delays once they have presented to healthcare services.

BPAS Chief Executive Ann Furedi said:

‘Abortion is fact of life and there is no “right number” of abortions. What matters is that every woman with an unplanned pregnancy is able to make the choice that is right for her and access the care that she needs.

‘These statistics confirm that women who have abortions do not fit the stereotype of “the feckless teenager”. Women of all ages and from all walks of life experience unplanned pregnancy. BPAS launched the “No More Names” campaign last year to highlight precisely this point – that women who have abortions are our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.’

- 2. EARLY ABORTIONS, ‘REPEAT’ ABORTIONS, AND TERMINATIONS FOR FETAL ANOMALY

Jennie Bristow analyses three issues of note in the 2012 national abortion statistics.

- 3. EVENT: DIAGNOSES AND DILEMMAS

London, Monday 9 September 2013

In the fast-moving world of prenatal testing, we need to ensure we retain the goal of providing high quality woman-centred services. This one-day conference, organised by Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) and British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), brings together experts working in the field to explore latest developments and the challenges they present to practice.

Sessions include:

- Opening address - Dr Catherine Calderwood, NHS Clinical Director, Maternity and Women’s Health

- Supporting women’s choices - Jane Fisher, Director of Antenatal Results and Choices

- Avoiding disability: choices, means and ends - Professor Jenny Hewison, Professor of the Psychology of Healthcare, University of Leeds

- Choice of TFA method: the role of the independent sector - Dr Richard Lyus, BPAS clinician

- Choice of TFA method: the NHS experience - Karen Creed, Antenatal Screening Co-ordinator, BSUH NHS Trust

- Improving outcomes in high risk pregnancies - Professor Steve Robson, Professor of Fetal Medicine, institute of cellular medicine, Newcastle University

- Non-invasive Prenatal Testing – where are we now and what’s next? - Professor Lyn Chitty – Professor of Genetics and Fetal Medicine, UCL Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street and UCLH NHS Foundation Trusts, London

- Latest developments in detecting fetal anomaly through ultrasound - Professor Kypros Nicolaides – Director of the Harris Birthright Trust Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, London

- 4. BPAS REPRODUCTIVE REVIEW, SUMMER 2013

Download the print edition for free. Contents include:

- Termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly: Diagnoses and Dilemmas, by Jennie Bristow
- Clinical update: Methods of termination for fetal anomaly, by Dr Richard Lyus
- Post-24 week termination for fetal anomaly – the chilling effect of the Jepson campaign, by Jane Fisher
- We can trust women to make decisions that are right, by Ann Furedi
- The policing of abortion services in England, by Dr Sam Rowlands
- News digest, February-April 2013
- Events
- From the Journals

- 5. UK: LEADING ETHICIST ARGUES AGAINST BAN ON SEX SELECTION IN IVF

The current ban on parents selecting the sex of their embryo by using fertility treatment is not ethically justifiable, according to a review of the arguments by Professor Stephen Wilkinson and colleagues.

- 6. UK: CAN GENE TEST SCREEN FOR POSTNATAL DEPRESSION?

The results of a study examining the genetics of postnatal depression hit the headlines on July. This analysis, by the NHS Choices website, reviews the findings.

- 7. UK: GOVERNMENT BACKS ‘THREE-PERSON IVF’

Britain looks set to become the first country to allow the creation of babies using DNA from three people.

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