2017 Abortion Statistics for Scotland


Number of abortions:

12,212 abortions were carried out in Scotland in 2017 (11.8 per 1000 women), a similar number as in the past couple of years. 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. After 2008 the number of abortions steadily reduced to 11,778 in 2014, but has risen again since 2015.

Age group:

The highest rate of abortion in 2017 was for women in their 20’s, with 19.2 abortions per 1000 women aged 20-24 years old and 15.6 abortions per 1000 women aged 25 to 29 years old.

In women over 30 years old, the abortion rate has been steadily increasing. Since 2011, there has been an increase in the rate of abortion by 13% in 30-35 year olds, 30% in 35-40 year olds and 22% in 40 year olds.

The rate of abortion in teenagers has been falling since 2007. The abortion rate in under 16 year olds was 1.3 per 1000 girls. The abortion rate in 16-19 year olds was 14.5 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 2017, 83.7% of all abortions carried out were medical, 16.3% of abortions carried out were surgical.

72.1% of abortions took place under 9 weeks gestation.

Home abortions: on 27 October 2017, the Scottish Government introduced guidelines for women to be able to self-administer the second abortion pill at home. Since then, 58 women have taken the second abortion pill at home.

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 (98.3% = 12,005 abortions). Abortion rates are twice as high in deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.

Disability accounted for 1.6% of all abortions in 2017:

There were 193 abortions on the ground of risk of disability. 66 were for chromosomal abnormalities (eg. Down’s syndrome), 49 were for conditions of the nervous system (eg. spina bifida), 43 were for other structural abnormalities (eg. heart defect, kidney abnormality), 35 were for ‘other’ abnormalities.

5 abortions (0.04% 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/2018-05-29/2018-05-29-Terminations-2017-Report.pdf?86014956236

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