English abortion jump blamed on millennium

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English abortion jump blamed on millennium:

Abortions in England jumped 20 per cent in the first two months of the new year compared to 1999, a family planning group said today, citing millennium excesses and lack of access to emergency contraception over the holidays.

"This increase could be the tip of the iceberg," Marie Stopes International said in a statement.

"It seems we may be just seeing the first swathe of women who have missed their period after the holiday season. Others, particularly teenagers who are sometimes less aware of their bodies, may not yet have realised they are pregnant." Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe, with more than 8,000 girls under 16 getting pregnant each year. About half of teen pregnancies end in abortion.

The charity said the first three months of every year was a traditionally busy time for its seven clinics.

But it blamed the jump in abortions this year on the scale and duration of the millennium celebrations and limited access to emergency contraception over the long holiday, particularly the need for a prescription before pills can be issued.

"We need a national commitment to providing emergency contraception over the counter at pharmacies, without the need for a prescription," the charity said.

Pharmacies in Manchester launched a scheme on Christmas Eve to issue free morning after pills - effective up to 72 hours after intercourse - to try to tackle the city's high teenage pregnancy rate.


-- Risteard Mac Thomais (uachtaran@ireland.com), March 01, 2000

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