ABORTIONS in Scotland are at a 10-year high amid a record number of terminations among thirty-something women.

There were 3996 abortions among women aged 30 to 39 in 2018, the highest number since records began in 1968.

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Terminations have been rising steadily in this age group in recent years, and figures from ISD Scotland show it is up 41 per cent compared to 2009.

It has coincided with a sharp fall of 44% in the number of women under 20 ending their pregnancies, from 3233 in 2009 to 1817 in 2018.

Overall, the statistics show that a total of 13,286 abortions were carried out in 2018 among women aged 15-44, a rate of 12.9 per 1,000.

Both the number and the rate are the highest since 2008, when abortions hit an all-time peak of 13,908 and a record rate of 13.1 per 1,000.

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The NHS Scotland Information Services Division report said the factors behind the recent increase are “not yet exactly clear”.

Ho9wever, Katherine O’Brien, spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service charity said older women could be underestimating their fertility.

She said: “We are concerned that constant warnings about the impact of age on fertility are leading some older women to take chances with their contraception under the misconception that they are unlikely to conceive,”

“We need to ensure that the reproductive healthcare needs of all women are met and that the drive to decrease teenage pregnancies is not at the expense of their older counterparts.”

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Women aged 20-24 continued to have the highest abortion rate in 2018, at 21.3 per 1,000, a pattern evident since 1985.

For the fifth consecutive year, girls under 16 had the lowest at 1.4 per 1,000 women.

Rates for women in the most deprived areas remain about twice as high as those from the least deprived areas at 17.8 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 compared to 8.9.

Also included in the statistics for the first time were the the number of women from Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal except in strict circumstances, accessing abortions on Scotland’s NHS.

This has been recorded following a change in the law in 2017, which researchers said “appears to have had very little impact”.

Fewer than 10 women gave a Northern Ireland residence address in 2018, while in the past decade NHS Scotland has dealt with abortions for nearly 20 women from there.

Michael Robinson of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland said the figures were "deeply alarming".

He added: "Society promotes abortion as a quick and easy fix for women facing unwanted pregnancy, but many post-abortive women will tell you that they had no choice at all. These rising figures reflect that tragedy.

"These women deserve support and care to help alleviate the pain and pressure they feel."