Record number of South Tyneside abortions
A record number of women in South Tyneside had an abortion last year, new figures show.
The availability of pill treatment for home abortions during the Covid-19 pandemic is believed to be behind a rise in terminations.
Department of Health and Social Care figures show 518 abortions were reported in the borough during 2020 – up by 13% from the 459 recorded in 2019 and the highest number since comparable figures began in 2012.
Nationally, 209,917 abortions were recorded in 2020 – a two per cent increase from 2019 and also a record number since figures were first published.
The proportion of abortions which were medical, as opposed to surgical, increased from 73% in 2019 to 85% in 2020.
The increase is partly a result of a temporary change in Government policy which allows women to take the two pills, enabling an early abortion in their own home, the DHSC said.
Up until April last year, the first pill - mifepristone – had to be taken at a registered clinic or hospital and a proposal to make the rule change permanent is under consideration.
Clare Murphy, chief executive of the The British Pregnancy Advice Service, said: "We didn’t need a pandemic to know that the ability to access early abortion at home would be transformative for women - particularly those in the most challenging circumstances.”
Pro-life group Right To Life says it has concerns over home abortions, claiming they are not always safe and are open to abuse.
The DHSC said it expected to make a decision on its proposal for home abortions later this year.