By Hilary White

EDINBURGH, October 29, 2008 ( ) – The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has announced it will be opening a private abortion facility in Scotland to cover the “hundreds” of requests for late-term abortions that it says cannot be handled by the National Health Service (NHS). BPAS claimed that the facility would open to address a “huge unmet need” for late term abortion in Scotland.

BPAS is the largest abortion providing organisation in the UK and specialises in late-term abortions. It carries out 80 per cent of the UK’s post-20 week abortions.

Until now all the abortions in Scotland were committed by hospitals run by the NHS which would make the BPAS facility the first free-standing private abortion unit in the country. The Scotsman reports that the facility, to be located in Glasgow or central Scotland, will carry out abortions up to the legal gestational age limit of 24 weeks.

According to the Scotsman, 377 women from the country travelled south for late-term abortions last year.

Ian Murray, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland (SPUC) told that “BPAS’s claims of a ‘huge unmet need’ do not stand up,” and suggested there may be other reasons for the facility.

“I refuse to believe that a clinic is being set up to carry out 3 abortions in a week.  I suspect the real reason is to make it easier for women from Northern Ireland to have abortions carried out in Scotland,” Murray said. SPUC Scotland will be monitoring planning applications and will “vigorously oppose” the proposed facility.

The announcement comes at the same time as statistics showing that Scotland’s abortion rate has soared in recent years. The rate of women having repeat abortions has also climbed, with more than 3,500 of the women who had abortions having had at least one previously. 372 of the abortions in Scotland in 2007 were committed on girls aged less than 16 and the highest rates of abortion were found in economically disadvantaged areas.

Overall, 13,703 “terminations” were committed in Scotland in 2007, 540 more than the previous year and a record to date. 99.3 per cent of Scotland’s abortions were committed by facilities funded by the National Health Service (NHS). The great majority of abortions in Great Britain are carried out for what are termed “social” rather than “medical” reasons.

At the same time, government officials continue to insist that the solution to lowering both the teenaged pregnancy rate and the rate of abortion is more explicit “sex-education” in schools, and now in youth organisations like the Scouts. The government announced recently that all children, including those in the earliest levels in school, will be given mandatory lessons in “sex and relationships.”