Britain: Increased financial pressure, more widely available IVF treatment allowing women to have children later, and career ambitions can be blamed for the sharp increase in the number of women over 30 who are having abortions, experts have claimed.

According to Department of Health figures, terminations carried out by women between 30 and 34 increased by 10 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

Experts said one reason was many 30-something women believe they could delay motherhood by using IVF in their 40s.

"There is good evidence that, in a recession, women delay marriage and taking out mortgages into their late 20s," a daily quoted Tracey McNeil, UK director of Marie Stopes, the sexual health charity, as telling a daily.

"That in turn delays them having families until their early or mid-thirties. If they have an unplanned pregnancy at a certain stage in their career, or have just embarked on a mortgage and can't afford maternity leave, they may consider termination," McNeil stated.

Josephine Quintavalle, of pressure group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "At some stage these women are going to decide they really want children and then by that stage it may be too late.

"It just seems to be abortion on demand. It's like a form of contraception. "Without making judgement, you would think that by this age women should know better. It may be that because IVF is available they can always delay having a baby," Quintavalle said.

Last year there were 29,579 abortions carried out on women aged 30 to 34 compared with 27,978 in 2010 - a rise of 1,601.

In contrast, the number of those aged between 25 and 29 rose by under 4 per cent, from 40,800 in 2010 to 42,321 last year.

For all age groups, 189,931 terminations were carried out in 2011 - an increase of 0.2 per cent in a year.
Around 36 per cent were carried out on women who had had an abortion. Only last week it emerged that some teenagers have already had eight abortions, fuelling concerns many think of it as a form of contraception.

Figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act showed that 5,300 girls last year had a 'repeat' abortion.

Julie Bentley, of the Family Planning Association, said: "The number of abortions hasn't changed significantly in the past few years and this is to be welcomed.

"However, we do know cracks are beginning to appear in contraception services. If we are going to bring down abortion numbers, this needs to change. Contraception is an essential not a luxury," she added.

Public health minister Anne Milton said that having an abortion can be traumatic and stressful and should never be seen as a form of contraception.


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