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Scotland Abortions Hit Record High Amid Legalization of DIY Abortions

by | Aug 2, 2021

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Scotland abortion numbers rise to second-highest ever on record, accompanies introduction of ‘DIY’ home abortions

Abortion statistics released by Public Health Scotland show that the number of abortions carried out in Scotland reached the second-highest number on record in 2020. 

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This significant rise in abortions has accompanied the Scottish Government introducing a temporary measure in March 2020 allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in Scotland.

Official figures showed there were 13,815 abortions carried out in 2020 – the highest total since 2008 and an increase of 209 from 2019 when there were 13,606 abortions. The figures also show an increase in the abortion rate from 13.2 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in 2019 up to 13.4 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44: this is the highest termination rate recorded since the 1991 regulations were introduced.

Large increase in late-term abortions

The figures show a 20% increase in late-term abortions performed at 20 weeks or later gestation.

5020 (36%) abortions were repeat abortions in 2020, up from 4581 (34%) in 2019. This represents a 10% increase in the number of abortions that are repeat abortions.

209 disability-selective abortions were performed in 2020. Public Health Scotland suggested the actual figure could be higher due to under-reporting stating that “Ground E terminations have been under-reported in some settings”.

There were significant increases in abortion for a number of age groups. This included a 4% increase for 25-29 year olds, an 8% increase for 30-34 year olds, a 10% increase for 35-39 year olds and a 12% increase for 40+ year olds.

Accompanies introduction of ‘DIY’ home abortion scheme

This significant rise in abortions accompanied the Scottish Government introducing a  temporary measure in March 2020 allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in Scotland. 

Since ‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced, a number of significant problems have arisen. 

According to a leaked “urgent email” sent by a regional chief midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement on the “escalating risks” of ‘DIY’ home abortions, several women attended Emergency Departments for incidents including significant pain and bleeding, ruptured ectopics, and resuscitation for major haemorrhage. The email leak also revealed police opened a murder investigation into the death of a baby who they believe was born alive despite her mother taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills. 

A nationwide undercover investigation found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

National tragedy

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “It is a national tragedy that 13,815 lives were lost to abortion in Scotland last year”.

“Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies”.

“In 2020 Scotland came together as a nation and made great sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19. Sadly, at the very same time as protecting one group of vulnerable people, we as a society have also ended thousands of young vulnerable lives through abortion”.

“This significant rise in abortions coincides with the temporary measures allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in the UK. Since governments permitted ‘DIY’ home abortions, many stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light”.

“We are calling on the Scottish Government to end these ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes immediately”.

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