The number of abortions carried out in Scotland reached the second highest on record last year – with the number of pregnancies ended by women in their 40s increasing to a new high.

Official figures showed there were 13,583 terminations carried out in 2019 – the highest total since 2008.

They included 581 terminations in women who were aged 40-plus – the highest number ever in this age group since abortion became legal in 1967.

READ MORE: Salmond inquiry: MSPs demand 'missing documents' from Government's evidence

Meanwhile, separate statistics showed Scotland’s teenage pregnancy rate reached its lowest level since reporting began in 1994.

Public Health Scotland figures also revealed the country’s abortion rate increased to 13.2 terminations per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44 – up from 11.4 five years ago.

The abortion rate for England and Wales was higher, at 18.6 per 1,000 women in the same age group.

Last year saw a very small rise in the number of young women choosing to end a pregnancy, with 1,834 terminations in those aged under 20, up from 1,829 in 2018.

This was the first increase in abortions in this age group since 2007, Public Health Scotland said.

More than half of all pregnancies that were terminated involved women in their 20s, with a total of 7,183 such procedures carried out on women in this age group – 3,929 on those aged 20 to 24 and 3,254 on those aged between 25 and 29.

Meanwhile, 2,460 terminations involved women between the ages of 30 and 34, with a further 1,525 involving those aged 35 to 39.

Almost three quarters (74.6%) of all terminations last year took place before the woman was nine weeks pregnant.

Meanwhile, the number of teenage pregnancies has fallen from a total of 9,362 in 2007 to 4,114 in 2018, the most recent year for which figures are available.

The teenage pregnancy rate has now fallen from 34 per 1,000 women in 2014 to 30 per 1,000 women in 2018, according to the figures.

Meanwhile, between 1994 and 2018 the proportion of teenage pregnancies that ended in termination increased from around a third (33.1%) to just under half (46.5%).

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon 'causing confusion' as face coverings to be used in high schools and buses

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “It’s encouraging to see a fall in the rates of teenage pregnancy for the 11th successive year, with rates at their lowest level since reporting began in 1994.

“This reflects the dedicated work of education, health and community services in giving young people more choice, support and advice.”

The minister said he was “particularly pleased that the gap in teenage pregnancy rates between the most and least deprived areas is narrowing too”.

He added: “We are continuing work to implement our Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy, focusing on supporting young people who are vulnerable to pregnancy in key areas including education and attainment, training and employment and emphasising the importance of positive relationships to help them to achieve their potential as young people and as parents.

“We have also continued to roll out the Family Nurse Partnership programme since 2010, to offer direct support to young, first-time mothers and their families from pregnancy until their child reaches two.”