2016 Abortion Statistics for Scotland


Number of abortions:

12,063 abortions were carried out in Scotland in 2016 (11.6 per 1000 women), a similar number as in 2015 (12,134 abortions). The rate of abortion in England and Wales is higher (17.0 per 1000 women).

In 1968, when the Abortion Act was implemented, there were 1500 abortions. The number of abortions then steadily increased to a peak of 13,908 abortions in 2008. Since 2008 the number of abortions was falling, until a rise again last year.

Age group:

The highest rate of abortion in 2016 was for women in their 20’s, with 19.1 abortions per 1000 women aged 20-24 years old and 15.9 abortions per 1000 women aged 25 to 29 years old.

In the age group 30-39 years, there was a rise of 17.5% in the rate of abortion in 2015. The rate has stayed about the same in 2016.

The rate of abortion in teenagers has been falling since 2007. The abortion rate in under 16 year olds was 1.5 per 1000 girls. The abortion rate in 16-19 year olds was 14.6 per 1000.

Method of abortion:

Medical abortions (using drugs) were allowed in the UK since 1991, in 1992 16.4% of abortions were medical. In 2016, 82.9% of all abortions carried out were medical, 17.1% of abortions carried out were surgical.

73.5% of abortions took place under 9 weeks gestation.

Repeat abortions:

1/3 abortions are carried out in women who have previously had an abortion.

Reasons for abortion:

The vast majority of abortions are carried out due to social reasons (98.2% = 11,841 abortions).

Disability accounted for 1.8% of all abortions in 2016:

There were 214 abortions on the ground of risk of disability, which is the highest number yet. 75 were for chromosomal abnormalities (eg. Down’s syndrome), 49 were for conditions of the nervous system (eg. spina bifida), and 51 were for other structural abnormalities (eg. heart defect, kidney abnormality).

8 abortions (0.07% of all abortions) were carried out because there was a serious risk to the mother’s life.

For the full report, please click on this link https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Sexual-Health/Publications/2017-05-30/2017-05-30-Terminations-2016-Report.pdf?96633547545

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