WIGAN’S abortion rates are among the lowest in the North West – but the operations are on the rise locally.
Department of Health figures show that 15.2 women per 100,000 in the borough are opting for a termination. The regional average is 17.5.
Last year, there were 894 abortions in the borough, increasing slightly from 2011’s figure of 846.
And while nationally there has been an increase in women having repeat abortions to 36.7 per cent, the percentage of such cases in Wigan is 29.
The majority of terminations in 2012 involved women aged between 20 and 29, with 267 between the age of 20 to 24 and 203 25 to 29-year-olds having the procedure.
A total of 107 18 and 19-year-olds sought abortions, with 75 being under 18 and 101 over 35.
Similarly, in 2011, there were 281 terminations in the 20 to 24 age bracket, 182 for women aged 25 to 29, 106 for 18 to 19 year-olds, 87 under 18s and 103 for women over 35.
Anne Scanlan, education officer at Life, a charity that supports anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage or after an abortion, said: “The Wigan percentage of repeat abortions is quite a lot lower than the national - and the national figure is shocking.
“We don’t know why Wigan stands out as having fewer repeat abortions, but almost one in three is still high, so we need to look at why those women are coming back.
“People are more sexually active between the ages of 20 to 29. Pregnancies in stable relationships do not cause a problem, but an unplanned one in a casual relationship can cause difficulties and therefore there are more abortions.”
Harry Walker, policy and parliamentary manager at Family Planning Association, said: “Nationally, the 2012 abortion rate for all ages is the lowest rate since 1997, and six per cent lower than in 2011, and it is both worrying and welcome that the abortion rate in Wigan is up.
“It is worrying because more women are requiring abortions, implying that there is not proper uptake of contraceptive options available, or that educational messages about sex and relationships are not getting through locally.
“Nevertheless, the uptake in abortion services is also welcome because it shows that women are exercising their right of choice regarding their unplanned pregnancy, rather than continuing with a pregnancy they may not have wanted in the first place.
“There is still work to be done to prevent unplanned pregnancy, and given Wigan performs relatively well by comparison in the region, FPA would welcome greater regional attention to addressing the high unplanned pregnancy rates of the area.”
Anyone wanting free contraceptives or advice can visit Brook, in Ashton Gallery, The Galleries, Wigan, or call 01942 483180.
More services are available on www.brook.org.uk