By Hilary White

LONDON, June 14, 2010 ( – New figures showing a rise in the number of multiple abortions among younger women have prompted criticisms of government sex education policies.

A Christian doctor’s group called the statistics “profoundly depressing,” and blamed the government’s longstanding “values-free” sex education.

“It is increasingly clear,” said Dr. Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, “that abortion is simply being used as a form of contraception by a growing percentage of girls and women, and that tired policies of values-free sex education, condoms and morning-after pills are not working.”

George Pitcher, a liberal Anglican minister and religion editor for the Daily Telegraph, commented that the current approach to dealing with unwanted pregnancies, especially among the young, is failing to take the problem seriously.

“You don’t have to be over-cynical to feel that making the likes of Marie Stopes the principal public voice in abortion policy is like appointing a fox as gamekeeper. There needs to be a higher moral imperative than that,” Pitcher wrote.

“Many will continue to look for it from the Catholic Church (and I don’t confine that to Roman Catholicism). Finger-wagging from scripture is unlikely to gain a tenacious grip on the young imagination, but there is, none the less, room for teaching on what used to be called sinful, and these days may more readily be understood as human actions having consequences.”

According to Department of Health statistics released late last month, 89 girls aged 17 or under who had an abortion in 2009 had had at least two previous abortions. The figures also showed that for the first time, more than a third (34%) of abortions were repeat abortions.

More than 1,000 women or girls have had at least 5 abortions, with 214 having 6, 70 having 7, and 48 having 8 or more.

Overall, the number of abortions committed in England and Wales fell from 195,296 in 2008 to 189,100 last year, a slight drop of about 3.2%.

While some have highlighted this fall in numbers, it is only the second year in which abortion rates have dropped since 2001. The figures also show that the number of older women having children has increased significantly, while fewer younger women are giving birth.

In recent years, Britain’s abortion rate, which has climbed steadily since legalization in 1967, has alarmed even some pro-abortion MPs and has earned the country the nickname “abortion capital of Europe.”