Abortion rates in Jersey at 20 year high

The number of abortions in Jersey is at a more than twenty year high.

260 pregnancies were terminated last year, the highest number since 2002 when there were 310 abortions.

Figures from Public Health show an 8% rise on 2022.

Rates here remain lower than in England and Wales, but higher than the EU average.

Professor Peter Bradley, Director of Public Health, says there could be several factors behind the increase, potentially including financial pressures:

"Part of the reason for this rise might be is that there is better access, because medical terminations are much easier for anyone to organise. 

"The other thing that we might consider is, has there been any impact in relation to the cost of living?  We don't know, but it is a factor that we would have to consider."

Islanders aged between 20 and 24 are still the most likely to have an abortion compared to other age groups.

However, since 2021, there has been a significant increase in the number of women aged between 25 and 29 opting to end their pregnancy.

The rate sits at 21.5 per 1,000 female islanders and has jumped by more than an additional nine abortions per 1,000 women in four years.

Professor Bradley says the most important thing is that people are fully informed about their options.

"Whether that is from their GP, or from the hospital, and knowing that emergency contraception is also a possibility for them. 

"What is significant is that we are seeing terminations happen earlier in pregnancy, and that means we will have far fewer complications."

For three-quarters of women who ended their pregnancies in 2021 to 2023, it was their first time, while for 19% it was their second and 6% reported having three or more in the past. This has doubled from 2000 to 2002, when 3% of women reported having three or more abortions in their lives.

In terms of gestation, 92% of abortions happened before 10 weeks in 2023.

Pregnancies terminated between 10 and 12 weeks were reported at 6%, with around 3% happening at 13 weeks or more.

Alongside this, 93% of abortions were carried out medically, with 7% of women opting for a surgical approach.

A review of Jersey's 25 year old abortion law began last summer, and included a public consultation on the situations in which terminations should be allowed.

However,  a scrutiny panel heard earlier this month that changes to the legislation would not brought to the States Assembly before the end of the current government's term of office in 2026.

Health Minister Tom Binet is reported to have since said he is trying to get extra resources to get work on the abortion law back on track.

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