Published: 31 May 2016
Termination of Pregnancy Statistics
Termination of pregnancy (also known as induced abortion) is one of the most commonly performed gynaecological procedures (Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Guidelines 2011). These procedures are carried out under the terms of the Abortion Act 1967, which applies to England, Wales and Scotland. Doctors have a legal requirement to notify the Chief Medical Officer in Scotland of all terminations carried out in Scotland. The Information Services Division (ISD) is responsible for the administration and reporting of these notifications of abortions on behalf of the Chief Medical Officer in Scotland.
Following the passing of the Act in 1967 there was a steady increase in the number of terminations of pregnancy carried out in Scotland which peaked in 2008 and then began to fall. The most significant growth in abortions was in the four years following the introduction of the Abortion Act, from 1,500 in 1967 to over 7,500 in 1971.
In 1991 medical methods of termination were licensed for use in the United Kingdom for abortion under 10 weeks gestation. Medical methods of termination are carried out using drugs such as mifepristone with or without the addition of prostaglandin. The Abortion (Scotland) Regulations 1991 reflect this change in abortion provision and also place an upper limit of 24 weeks on abortions for most reasons. Two doctors must agree that termination of pregnancy is necessary for one of the reasons specified in the 1991 Regulations; these are classified by Grounds A to G. Further information, including definitions for the grounds, can be found in the background information [36 KB].
ISD’s main publication on terminations of pregnancy is based on notifications submitted to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). In addition to being notified to the CMO, terminations provided in a hospital setting will also be recorded within the relevant outpatient or inpatient national dataset. A summary of how terminations should be recorded within these SMR datasets is provided here: Summary of Coding Guidance for Termination of Pregnancy [77 KB].