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The number of abortions in Scotland last year reached a record high, prompting calls for the “urgent” reinstatement of in-person consultations before every abortion.

New statistics released by Public Health Scotland showed that there were 18,207 abortions in 2023, an increase of 9.63% on the previous year.  

The figures also showed a 29.2% increase since 2022 in abortions among girls aged 15 and younger, and a 35% increase in late-term abortions at 21 weeks gestation or later. Over a third of abortions (39.92%) last year were repeat abortions. 

There was a 4% increase in the number of abortions of babies with a disability, from 274 in 2022 to 285 in 2023. Of these, 49 babies had Down’s syndrome.

Right to Life UK has attributed the increases to the introduction of at-home abortions during the pandemic, when the law was changed to allow both abortion pills to be taken at home after an e-consultation.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said that self-administered abortions were putting women’s health at risk.

“It is a great tragedy that 18,207 lives were lost to abortion in Scotland last year, the highest number on record,” she said. 

“Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies.” 

She said that the reinstatement of in-person appointments would protect women and prevent tragedies like the case of Carla Foster who aborted her baby between 32 and 34 weeks after obtaining tablets for an at-home abortion well beyond the legal 10 week limit.  

Polling shows that 71% of women support the reinstatement of in-person appointments and only 9% are in favour of the status quo,” said Robinson. 

“We are calling on the Scottish Government to urgently reinstate in-person consultation for home abortions.” 

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