More women than ever are having abortions in England and Wales, with the number of 'second abortions' up by nearly 4,000 according to the latest NHS statistics.

In 2011, 68,105 women having an abortion had already had at least one termination, up from 64,303 in 2010, while the overall number of abortions has now reached 189,931.

The annual statistics also showed that 67 women had had at least seven previous abortions, while 82 under-16s were already having their second abortion and two having their third.

Reacting to the increase, Family Planning Association chief executive Julie Bentley said: "Cracks are beginning to appear in contraception services as shockingly some parts of the NHS deliberately ban women from having certain contraceptive methods and there are over three million women who don't have access to comprehensive services.

"If we are going to bring down abortion numbers, this needs to change -contraception is an essential not a luxury."

A more encouraging trend for Bentley was the overall drop in abortions for under-18s and she added: "This clearly demonstrates that sexual health services and education programmes make a positive difference in the sexual health of young people.

"It's a reminder to the government and local authorities to invest in the sexual health of the next generation so these numbers continue to decline."

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service defended the figures saying they were lower than for Sweden or America with chief executive Ann Furedi adding "there is no 'right' number of abortions, above and beyond ensuring that every woman who needs to end an unwanted pregnancy can do so".

Posted 30/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com