Girls' seven-plus abortion history
Abortions were given to three teenage girls in England and Wales who had previously had at least seven pregnancies terminated, latest figures reveal.
Pro-life campaigners said young women were being "let down in an appalling way" after it emerged three of the 38,269 teenagers who had a termination in 2010 had undergone the procedure at least seven times.
NHS figures released to the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act show another two teenage girls had their seventh abortion in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, while four more teenagers had a termination for the sixth time.
Fourteen teenage girls had their fifth abortion in 2010, 57 teens had a termination for the fourth time and 485 women aged 19 or under went through the procedure for a third time.
Rebecca Mallinson, of the Pro Life Alliance, said: "There is something seriously wrong with a country where teenagers are having even one abortion, let alone repeat abortions to this extent. We are failing these young people in an appalling way, and storing up serious sexual health problems for the future, whether the direct issue of sexually transmitted diseases, but also the effects that multiple abortions can have on future fertility. As to the psychological impact for these extremely vulnerable teenagers, one can only hope they find proper counselling and help as soon as possible."
Of the abortions carried out on teenage girls in 2010, more than 5,300 were on teenagers who had already had at least one termination.
A spokeswoman for pressure group LIFE said: "Abortion is a serious procedure, one which all sides of the abortion debate agree should not be undertaken lightly. Yet here we have young women, still not fully mature physiologically and emotionally, undergoing abortions numerous times... It cannot be healthy for them, and the provision of abortion is clearly not resolving the problems in the lives that cause them to have multiple crisis pregnancies."
Out of the 189,574 abortions carried out in 2010 for women of all ages, more than 64,300 terminations were for women who had already had the operation in the past. Some 85 of those women had undergone at least seven previous terminations, including 30 women who were aged under 30.
The number of abortions for teenagers dropped 4.5% in 2010, from 40,067 in 2009 which was itself a 6.1% fall on the 42,690 in 2008. But while the number who had two previous abortions or fewer before they had a termination in 2010 fell, the number who who had previously had three or more rose from 62 to 80. The total number of abortions for women of all ages rose slightly to 189,574 in 2010, up 0.3% on the 189,100 carried out in 2009, following a 3.2% fall from the 195,296 recorded for 2008.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "Having an abortion can be a very difficult and traumatic experience so we are very concerned about the number of women having multiple abortions. It is very important that every woman who has an abortion is offered counselling and given good advice and supplies of contraception. There are many types of contraception available to suit women's needs from the pill to long acting reversible contraceptives such as the contraceptive implant."