MORE than one in three abortions in Swindon last year were carried out on women who had already terminated a pregnancy in the past, it has emerged.
The number of women undergoing abortions in the town remains high according to the figures released by the Department of Health, with 714 recorded in the town in 2013 – 316 for women under-25 and 398 for those over-25.
More worryingly for public health officials, 37 per cent of them were ‘repeat’ abortions, which means women had received the procedure previously.
Of those 27 per cent of all repeat terminations were for women under 25 and 45 per cent for those aged over 25.
While the number of terminations decreased from 732 in 2012, the percentage of total repeat abortions remained unchanged on the previous year.
And repeat procedures for women over 25 increased by three per cent between 2012 and 2013 from 42 per cent to 45 per cent.
But Cherry Jones, acting director of public health at Swindon Council, said abortion figures could be misleading by not taking into account every variable.
And she added that education schemes to promote the use of contraception were widespread in Swindon and available to all.
“Exactly in line with the national averages, 37 per cent of women having an abortion in Swindon have previously had an abortion and this figure is higher, at 45% per cent, for women over 25.”
“It is important to recognise this data does not reflect the time gap between abortions, so for instance older women may be having a second abortion after a gap of many years since their first. Overall, in the past three years, the number of women in Swindon having abortions has fallen.
“Abortion services are managed by the Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group who work in partnership with our Public Health team to promote the use of long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC), such as implants and contraceptive injections, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and give women better control of their fertility.
“Contraceptive advice is easily available from Swindon’s integrated Sexual Health Services and via GPs. These services include outreach clinics in schools and colleges, and also other community venues.
“Education about sexual health, which starts in schools, is delivered in Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) lessons and also through school nurses who provide advice and guidance about contraception for sexually active young people. In Swindon we encourage all women of child bearing age to consider the various LARC options available to them.”
And according to recent research, most abortions occurred despite using a contraceptive, according to Mrs Jones.
“Recent research, released by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, shows that most women experiencing unwanted pregnancy report using a form of contraception, either the pill or a condom, at the time they conceived. Older women were less likely to have used contraception than women under 30, which may reflect their belief they are no longer fertile.
“All women who request an abortion are offered counselling to discuss the options, and they will also receive contraceptive advice and support.”
Nearly 9 out of 10 abortions in Swindon are carried out before the 10-week gestation point, which is recommended as best practice and puts Swindon as the best performing in the South West.
l For more information about contraception call Swindon Sexual Health Services on 01793 604038 or contact your GP.