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Repeat abortions increasing, official figures show

At least 37% of all abortions in England and Wales last year were repeat procedures, figures show. 

More than 4,500 women had at least four abortions, 1,334 were on their fifth and 33 women had nine or more terminations. 

Figures released by the Department of Health show the total number of abortions fell by 2.5% last year, with 185,122 carried out in total.

However, Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said the figures on women with repeat abortions could be misleading.

She told the Guardian that often they were a response to different, difficult circumstances. She said many agencies treated women from eastern Europe, "where abortion is seen a method of birth control".

The figures also reveal an increase in the number of terminations because of disability, with a 17% rise in cases since last year. 

The rise could reflect advances in foetal screening detecting abnormalities sooner, according to abortion agencies. But pro-life campaigners said they were “deeply concerned” by the trend. 

The statistics show that the number of abortions among teenagers fell sharply, with 12,783 among those under 18, compared with 14,599 the previous year.

However, the number among women in their 40s rose to a record 8,426 cases last year - up 20 per cent in a decade.