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Popul Trends. 1997 Spring;(87):11-9.

Trends in abortion 1990-1995.


Trends in legal abortion performed to women resident in England and Wales, between the years 1990 and 1995 are reviewed. This article updates an earlier review of abortion trends from the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act to the end of 1989 which appeared in Population Trends issue no. 64(1). The main findings of this present article indicate that the number of legal abortions performed in England and Wales have gone down since 1990. Outside factors such as patterns in fertility, the provision and uptake of family planning services, and sexual attitudes and behaviour are likely to influence present and future trends. This article is part of an ongoing review of abortion trends which will be continued in future years.


This report covers trends in the incidence of and justification for legal abortion in England and Wales for the period 1990-95. The review is preceded by a description of the 1990 amendment of the 1967 Abortion Act reducing the time limit for legal abortion from 28 to 24 weeks gestation for two of the statutory grounds permitting abortion. The remaining five statutory grounds exist without time limits. The terms of the Act were also expanded to cover selective abortion in the case of a multiple pregnancy. The review opens with an overview of abortion trends for 1968-95 that indicates that the number of abortions performed for residents and nonresidents has dropped each year from 1991. Trends for 1990-95 among residents of England and Wales are discussed in terms of gestation period, statutory grounds, gestation period and statutory grounds, and statutory grounds and age of woman (for 1995). The review also categorizes legal terminations by procedure and notes that medical abortions have been available since 1991. After presenting data on abortions performed at more than 24 weeks gestation and selective terminations, the review considers legal terminations to nonresidents, overall conception patterns for 1969-94, age-specific conception patterns for 1990-94, and unplanned pregnancies and contraception patterns. Survey results on sexual attitudes and behavior and attitudes towards abortion are summarized, and it is concluded that a continuing trend towards earlier abortions exists and that trends will likely be affected by fertility patterns, access to family planning services and education, contraceptive practices, and sexual attitudes and behavior.

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