Record number of abortions recorded in Doncaster
A record number of women in Doncaster had an abortion last year, figures show, amid a relaxation in rules around seeking treatment at home.
The availability of pill treatment for home abortions during the Covid-19 pandemic is believed to be behind a rise in procedures across England and Wales, say pregnancy experts.
A total of 1,258 abortions were reported in Doncaster in 2020, Department of Health and Social Care figures show.
That was a rise of seven per cent from the 1,174 recorded in 2019.
It was also the highest number reported in a year since comparable local figures began in 2012.
The increase is partly a result of a temporary change in Government policy which allows women to take the two pills, enabling an early abortion in their own home, the DHSC said.
Up until April last year, the first pill, mifepristone, had to be taken at a registered clinic or hospital.
A proposal to make the rule change permanent is under consideration.
The British Pregnancy Advice Service said home abortions had been "transformative" for women, adding that transport issues, job uncertainty and abusive relationships had previously led to some to obtain the treatment illegally.
Clare Murphy, chief executive of the group, said: "The increase in numbers may reflect the fact that as a result of early abortion at home becoming lawful, women no longer need to seek help outside regulated providers."
She added: "We didn’t need a pandemic to know that the ability to access early abortion at home would be transformative for women - particularly those in the most challenging circumstances.”
But pro-life group Right To Life said it had concerns over what it called "DIY" home abortions, claiming they are not always safe and are open to abuse.
The group claims basic checks are not done on women prior the procedure, and that women in late pregnancy are also able to get hold of the at-home treatment.
In Doncaster, the abortion rate among women aged between 25 and 29 saw the biggest increase, rising from 28 abortions per 1,000 women in 2019 to 35 last year.
However, the procedure was most common in women among those aged between 20 and 24, at a rate of 42 per 1,000 women in 2020.