Belfast Telegraph

Abortions on rise as 51 were performed by trusts in Northern Ireland last year

More than 50 abortions were carried out in Northern Ireland last year – an increase of 16 from 2012.

Out of the 51 pregnancies terminated, the highest number – 17 – were carried out in the South Eastern Trust.

Thirteen were carried out in the Belfast Trust, the second highest total.

The statistics published by the Department of Health showed that the majority were carried out on women aged 30 years and over.

A spokesman from the Department of Health said: "There is no reason to believe that the increase is anything other than normal variation that would be expected, and indeed is apparent in the annual figures provided from 2006-07.

"The 35 figure for the previous year was actually the lowest total in recent times."

Only one of the terminations was carried out on a woman who did not normally reside in Northern Ireland.

Abortions in Northern Ireland can only be carried out where there is a threat to the life of the mother, or if continuing the pregnancy would have other serious, permanent physical or mental health effects.

The current strict circumstances in Northern Ireland for when abortions are allowed were challenged earlier this year.

Northern Ireland is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act and every year more than 1,000 women travel from the region to clinics in England, Scotland and Wales where access to an abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks into pregnancy on grounds that include abnormalities which could lead to a child being seriously disabled.

A termination of pregnancy refers to any woman who has a live pregnancy terminated under legal and medical conditions approved for Northern Ireland.

It can also refer to 'missed miscarriages' where there are no signs of the abortion happening and known miscarriages.

There were a further 75 medical abortions in the past year.

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