More abortions are reportedly carried out in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, largely the result of increasing rates of teenage pregnancies.
According to the Institute for Family Policies (IFP), a Norway-based pro-family pressure group, Britain has overtaken France as the abortion capital of Europe.
It now ranks fifth behind Russia, the US, India and Japan, and has prompted claims by anti-abortionists that the government's drive to cut teen pregnancies is not working.
They say that teenage pregnancy rates have increased by almost a third over the past 10 years, and that half of pregnancies among girls aged under 18 now end in abortions.
The IFP says that in 2007, 219,336 abortions were carried out in England, Scotland and Wales, compared with France's 209,699, of which 48,150 involved girls aged under 20 (31,779 in France).
Children's minister Dawn Primarolo said early data for 2008 suggests that pregnancy and abortion rates are about to fall.
Meanwhile, the government announced last week that it intends to make sex education compulsory in all primary and secondary schools.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Making sexual education compulsory from primary level would only worsen the already sexual mass that this country is in. Imagine Great Britain, addressed as the abortion capital in Europe, this is disgusting. Where has the moral standard of this great nation gone to? Please let the people making these proposal stop and think again, they need to consider the
prognosis of starting sexual activities at very early age. Again I think Great Britain should be a christian nation, where has the fear of God gone to? Let them know that if they (government) go ahead with these proposal, they would only end up stripping parents of their roles to educate their children in the right and proper way. Sexual education should be the responsibility of the family not state. The bible said train a child in the way he/she would, when they grow up they will never forget it. We would not want this quiet shedding of blood to continue" - Obiageri Uwakwe, Leeds
"Women's rights are all very well, but what about responsibilities? Any society that doesn't have care and concern for its most vulnerable is on a very slippery slope.
All life is precious - the mother AND her unborn child – so I agree with the comments about teaching children their intrinsic worth from a very early age, but surely young children do not need to know about sex itself until the upper years of primary school? In my experience, once children are aware of sex, the world is a very different place. Our children are being sexualised too early! Childhood should be what it says - childhood, not miniature adulthood!" - Carol King, Derbyshire
"Compulsory sex education for both primary and secondary school children is long overdue. However, it should be taught by those having the expertise to do so and within the frame of morality, respect and parental responsibilities. It should not be biased and/or concentrated on the use of contraceptives alone as I have seen and heard from family members. The education should be based on family values, respect for others' morality and the need to have caring and supportive families responsible parenting and supportive communities with sex education being an integral part of this process. I would very much like to know the breakdown of the figures by ethnicity and social groupings this perhaps would impact more strongly on parents of primary and early secondary school children both for their own responsibility and their contribution for the wider community" - V Henry, London
"Great news! I think having a high rate of abortions demonstrates the country's positive response to women's rights and supporting what is right for each individual that finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy. Countries where abortion is illegal do not reduce abortion rates, just mortality rates of women. Society cannot have it both ways - there will either be high amount of unwanted pregnancies (whatever age) or high abortion rate. Overall, I feel a high abortion rate is better than high unwanted pregnancy rate on numerous levels. Good work UK" - Debra Parker, Birmingham
"I agree with Mary, good SRE is needed but what we should also be encouraging from early years and upwards is social standards, morals and values, in a bid to improve self-worth and self-esteem amongst young people" - Emma Tomkins, Wolverhampton
"I totally support good advice within schools and the home, and that includes messages about resisting peer pressure and having the skills to negotiate as well. Denying young people information can never be right and that includes information about early sexual activity and contraception and hopefully we will avoid these high abortion rates. Other countries have a different approach, hence their lower rates" - Kathy French, London
"About time that sex education was made compulsory in primary and secondary schools. Does this include 'faith school'? There are faith schools with increasing numbers of pregnancies some resulting in abortions and others in births of babies to teenage mothers and yet those schools refuse any sex education input altogether and are anti-school nurses who 'confidentially' see young people for advice. None of those teachers in faith schools practise 'old fashioned' contraception methods and yet they expect young people to live in the 'dark ages' faith and luck. I have no doubt that parents will come on board if consulted on sex education matters because the majority of them understand their lack of skills in engaging their children both in dealing with behaviour let alone sex and relationship issues. Parents will appreciate school nurses to deliver sex education in schools. We will watch the space and hopefully see the wind of change in faith schools particularly. Young people want information for them to make informed choices" - Tsitsi Masukume, London
"Well done the government, it's about time that sex education is compulsory in all primary and secondary schools" - Sam Uttley, Oldham
"Well implemented sex education will help to control the pregnancy and abortion rates in future generations but only if we can break through the parents' attitudes and embarrassment toward the subject. I don't know what the figures are, but for every set of parents that can teach their children about these subjects in the context of a warm, loving relationship, there are probably five sets that let their own embarrassment get in the way of supplying this information" - Pat Allen, Cardiff
"I am very concerned that the government proposes to make sex education compulsory in all primary and secondary schools. They should be promoting family values and moral standards that we could all aspire to. It is very obvious from the figures on abortions carried out in this country that the strategy is not working" - Mary Connolly, Birmingham
You are currently leaving the Nursing in Practice site. Are you sure you want to proceed?