Scottish Abortion Rate Continues to Rise in Tandem with “Values-Free” Sex Education

Keith Cardinal O'Brien condemns government's sex education programmes for throwing fuel on the fire
Wed May 28, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Hilary White

EDINBURGH, May 28, 2008 ( – The abortion rate has continued to rise alarmingly in Scotland, despite claims by health officials that it would be slowed by sex education, increased access to contraceptives at earlier ages and the wide availability of the morning after pill. The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Keith Cardinal O’Brien, has condemned the government’s sex education programmes as having succeeded only in throwing fuel on the fire.

Scottish abortions topped 13,703 in 2007, up on the previous year’s figure of 13,163. The overall number of women who have had abortions differs according to region, ranging from 19.2 per cent to almost 33 per cent of 15- to 44- year-olds.  372 of the total abortions were carried out on girls less than 16 years of age, among which age group repeat abortions also reached a record number. 

In the face of rising abortion statistics in recent months, spokesmen for the Labour government’s health ministry have said that more money will be allotted to sex education programmes and increased distribution of artificial contraception.

Cardinal O’Brien called the government’s “value-free” sex education “redundant”, saying,  “Increased repeat abortions and record numbers of under-16s having abortions simply confirms the empirical and statistical evidence that the ‘value-free’ sex education experiment is redundant.”

A spokesman for Glasgow’s Cardinal Conti said, “It is deeply disheartening to see the abortion figures continuing to rise and rise, year after year. One abortion is one too many, but 13,703 is beyond the imagination.”

Ian Murray, from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the abortion statistics showed that society was letting women down. He added: "Either our sexual health policies don’t teach women anything about their fertility, or life in Scotland has been reduced to a commodity that can be disposed to suit the convenience of others.

"The reality is these statistics refer to human lives – both the babies lost and the women whose lives will be scarred by their decision forever.”

The statistics were released by the health service information department in connection with the debates in the House of Commons over proposals to lower the gestational age limit for abortion. MPs voted to retain the current age restriction at 24 weeks, the highest in the European Union.

Some pro-life advocates objected that efforts by some MPs in Parliament to lower the age limit would have done little to improve the situation. The figures from the health department supported this criticism with early stage abortions continuing to rise. In 2007, 69 per cent of all abortions were carried out on children under ten weeks gestation. Only 44 of the total were late stage abortions, those over 20 weeks.

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