One in five who falls pregnant opts for abortion

More than one in five pregnancies ended in abortion last year, official records showed last night.

This figure rose to nearly one in three in London.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 32.5 per cent of women in the capital who conceived in 2001 opted for a termination.

In the East of England, the region with the lowest proportion of abortions, 19.1 per cent of women decided not to have the baby.

There was a small drop in the number of pregnancies among 15 to 17-year-olds, from 45 conceptions per 1,000 to 43.8 in 2001. Of these pregnancies, 44 per cent were aborted.

The figures were greeted with dismay by pro-life campaigners.

Rachel Heath, of the UK's leading anti-abortion charity Life, said: 'Unfortunately, we are not surprised by these numbers.

'We live in a society where most British universities will give a student money to fund an abortion but will not make free child care available if she wants her baby,' she added.

'In a so-called civilised society women should not have to choose between their education or the life of their babies.'

Tony Kerridge, of the Marie Stopes family planning agency, said a desire to protect career prospects was one possible reason for many terminations. He called on the Government to offer sex education to children aged ten or 11, saying: 'Sex education in this country leaves a lot to be desired.

'There's a whole generation out there who are not properly informed of their contraceptive choices.'

But he insisted women had a right to terminate pregnancies and said they were not so 'irresponsible' as to use abortion as a contraceptive.

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