Health chiefs hail abortion rate drop

THE number of women having abortions in Essex and Suffolk has dropped by about 3%, figures have revealed.

Statistics released by the Department of Health suggest a national drop in the amount of women having terminations.

There were 1,253 abortions in Suffolk in 2009, down from 1,282 in 2008, giving an average of three abortions every day.

One in ten abortions in Suffolk involved women under 18, while 343 of cases in 2009 were for patients between the age of 20 and 24.

Figures reveal that in north-east Essex a total of 723 women had abortions, compared to 760 cases in 2008.

Of those who had an abortion in 2009, 80 were under 18 and more than 220 cases were for patients between the ages of 20 and 24.

Dr David Kanka, NHS Suffolk’s deputy director of public health, told the EADT the health trust provided women with the information they needed to make an informed decision.

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“We know that people need to have services on hand to be able to make choices that are right for them,” he said.

“There is support and guidance available in clinics across the county providing non-judgmental advice and counselling on all matters to do with people’s sexual health.

“As well as confidential abortion advice the service can help people make the right contraceptive choices to prevent unwanted pregnancy.”

Elizabeth Benomran, head of health and well being for North East Essex NHS, said the drop in abortion rates reflected the improved access to services in the area.

“We have put in place a number of interventions, resulting in women now having better access to clinics and pharmacies where contraception can be obtained,” she said.

“We have generally worked to improve service provisions across north-east Essex, including the late out-of-hour care and sexual health services.

“I think the drop in figures reflects the amount of support women can now access. The figures are a definite reflection of improved access and a reflection of the demographics in the area.

National figures revealed there were 189,100 abortions in 2009, down from 195,296 in 2008 – a fall of 3.2%.

Among all under-16s, there were 3,823 abortions and 17,916 among under-18s.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We’re pleased to see that the rate of abortions continues to fall.

“There is a wide range of effective contraception available .

“Women should speak to their GP or practice nurse or visit if they need more information.’’