Nearly 19,000 women aged under 25 had their second abortion last year, new figures show.

The statistics published today by the Department of Health, also revealed almost 40,000 women aged under 20 had an abortion in 2010.

Overall there has been a slight rise in the number of abortions carried out in England and Wales.

Some 189,574 abortions were carried out in 2010, up 0.3 per cent on the 189,100 in 2009 and eight per cent more than in 2000 (175,542).

These abortions were to women living in England and Wales. Another 6,535 were to non-residents.

The last time there was a rise in the total number of abortions was between 2006 and 2007.

Dr Paula Franklin, director of clinical development at Marie Stopes International, said: ‘Although the numbers are similar to those of 2009, we are surprised not to see a further decrease in the number of abortions across England and Wales.

‘Improved access to counselling and advice, through services like Marie Stopes International’s OneCall, is allowing women to access a full range of information early.’

In total, 64,303 procedures were to women who had had at least one abortion previously.

Of these, 1,201 abortions were among girls under 18 who had undergone one previous abortion, while 79 were to girls who had had two or more.

Among those aged 18 to 24, 17,735 abortions were to girls who had one abortion previously while 3,453 were to girls who had had two previously.

Half of abortions last year were to women with partners while 26 per cent were to single women and 16 per cent of abortions occurred within marriage.

Some 3,718 were to girls under 16, which was slightly down on the previous year. Some 27,046 abortions were among women aged 35 and over.

The rate was highest in women aged between 19 and 20, but has dropped among the under-16s and under-18s.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘We welcome the continued fall in teenage pregnancies. Abortions are traumatic and stressful and should never be seen as a form of contraception.’

In total, 64,303 procedures were to women who had had at least one abortion previously.

The statistics also showed that almost 300 women aged 25 to 29 had had four or more previous abortions.

Overall, 77 per cent of abortions took place before 10 weeks gestation.

Age of woman No. of abortions 2009 No. of abortions 2010
Under 16 3,823 3,718
16-17 14,093 12,742
Under 18 17,916 16,460
18-19 22,151 21,809
20-24 54,749 55,481
25-29 40,634 40,800
30-34 26,701 27,978
35 or over 26,949 27,046
Total 189,100 189,574

Natika Halil, director of information for the Family Planning Association (FPA), said: ‘Over the last decade, we’ve seen significant achievements in abortion services. Most women are having abortions under 13 weeks and we’ve seen a substantial rise in early medical abortions.

‘Medical abortions are a much more straightforward and less invasive procedure for women.

‘The cost to the NHS is greatly reduced – especially relevant in the current economic climate. The next logical, clinically-safe step with early medical abortion is to allow women to have them at home.’

Across all ages, the abortion rate was 17.5 per 1,000 resident women aged 15-44, the same as in 2009 but more than double the 8.0 recorded in 1970.

The rate was highest in women aged between 19 and 20, but has dropped among the under-16s and under-18s.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said: ‘Abortion rates were falling under the Labour government because of its investment in contraceptive services and sexual health campaigns.

‘Abortion rates have levelled off and will now undoubtedly rise further because contraceptive services are being slashed nationwide.

‘The coalition Government has not protected provision of contraceptive services despite the fact they are cost-effective as well as being a basic human right.’

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), said the fact that numbers had not decreased showed how difficult it was for women to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

She added: For many women abortion is a back-up to their contraception. It is a rational and ethical solution to the problem of a pregnancy that they cannot continue with.

‘We must do what we can to reduce the need for abortion while accepting that it will always be an important back-up for women whose contraception has failed, or whose circumstances have changed.’

However Michaela Aston, a spokeswoman for Life, said: ‘At Life we see every abortion as a tragedy, and we work hard to provide positive alternatives for women and their families who find themselves in what seem like impossible situations.

‘We are concerned that women are being rushed into abortion, as more and more women are having abortions earlier in pregnancy. It is vital that women are given time to think through their options.

‘We hope too that the Government will resist pressure to liberalise the law on home abortions. Such a move would further isolate women from networks of support, and risks trivialising abortion still further.’


The number of women claiming out-of-work benefits has hit its highest level since 1996, with public sector job cuts starting to bite last month.

Attempts by the government to nudge single mothers into the workforce have also pushed up the number of women claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), as they are stripped of income support once their children turn seven.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 474,000 women were receiving JSA in April. While the government took some comfort from the fact that total unemployment fell by 36,000 to 2.46 million in the three months to March, according to the broad International Labour Organisation measure, there was a rise of 12,400 in the more timely claimant count last month – with more than three-quarters of the increase among women.

It was the 10th consecutive month in which the number of women claiming out-of-work benefits had increased – although there are still more than twice as many men, 994,000, receiving JSA. The Department for Work and Pensions said part of the rise resulted from rule changes that have seen single mothers shifted on to employment benefits to encourage them to look for a job.

Since October, single mothers have joined the claimant count when their youngest child turns seven, down from the previous limit of 10. Single parents receiving JSA rose by 6,000 in March.

The DWP said the number of people receiving JSA was likely to go on increasing as incapacity benefit claimants were assessed for their readiness to work.

Since George Osborne announced the tightest fiscal squeeze in a generation last autumn, equality campaigners have been warning that the impact will be disproportionately felt by women, who make up much of the public sector workforce. Anna Bird, acting chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said women were acting as “shock absorbers” for the austerity measures.

“We are beginning to see the real impact of the government’s approach to cutting the deficit and, as we feared, women are bearing the brunt,” she said. “Combined with reduced benefits and increasing costs of childcare as state support dwindles, the lack of employment prospects risk rolling back women’s rights a generation.”

The figures also confirm that the pressure on household incomes is intensifying, as salaries fail to keep pace with rocketing inflation. While the inflation rate hit 4.5% last month, average pay rose by just 2.3% in the year to March.

The coalition may present itself, like all the main political parties, as pro-family, but it is mothers who have become the “shock absorbers” for the coalition’s cuts in welfare benefits and childcare provision, say critics.

From cuts to maternity grants and child benefits, to closures of Sure Start centres, childcare schemes and after-school clubs, it is women – particularly single mothers on low incomes – who bear the brunt of attempts to reduce the deficit.

The changes will affect women’s incomes and ability to enter the job market, critics say, and put many at risk of poverty. “The disproportionate impact of the cuts on women raises issues of fairness and calls into question the idea of society sharing the weight of national debt reduction,” said Abigail Davies, assistant director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing. “Overall the public spending cuts are known to impact disproportionately on single parent families, most of which are headed by women. Cuts to benefits and public spending, coupled with stricter job-seeking expectations for lone parents claiming benefits, will trap some women in an impossible situation.”

Benefit cuts that affect women include reductions in the childcare tax credit, the Sure Start maternity grant, and the health in pregnancy grant, and the freezing of child benefit rates for three years.

Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, said: “The targeting of family benefits for cutbacks in the last 12 months means women’s incomes have been disproportionately hit. For many women, child benefit was the only source of income they received directly, giving them independence and control over family spending. The coalition’s decision to end universal child benefit was therefore a particularly painful blow.”

There are concerns that single parents – most of whom are women – will also be unfairly affected by housing benefit reform. “This will require some families to move, which is expensive, unsettling, affects [children’s] educational performance, and puts families into less economically successful areas with reduced employment opportunities,” said Davies. “Cuts to tax credits, Sure Start, after-school clubs and so on, create further barriers to employment for single parents.

“The government wants to encourage social mobility and tackle poverty, but these cuts do not create an environment which supports women or enables them to help themselves.”

Despite the government’s commitment to guarantee 15 hours a week free childcare provision, childcare support has been badly hit by local authority spending cuts. These have led to widespread cuts in Sure Start children’s centres and after-school and holiday play schemes. Although many councils have committed themselves to keeping centres open, most have reduced services drastically.

A survey of mothers using Sure Start centres, carried out in February by the Daycare Trust charity, found that 35% felt that the removal or reduction of services would leave them more socially isolated, and 32% felt it would be harder to see their midwife or health visitor.

Rake said there had been some positive policy developments for mothers over the past 12 months, such as proposals for shared postnatal parental leave, and to extend rights to flexible working. She added: “The government must deliver on these proposals if it is to make strides towards a truly family-friendly society.”

At least 80 Asian women who arrived in Britain in the 1970s were made to have ‘virginity tests’ by immigration staff.

Calls have been made for the Government to make an official apology after it was discovered the intimate examinations – used to ‘check the marital status’ of Indian and Pakistani women – were on a wider scale that originally thought.

The practice was banned in February 1979 after it was reported a 35-year-old Indian  teacher was examined by a male doctor when she arrived at Heathrow Airport to test whether she was a genuine wife-to-be who had not borne children.

The Home Office initially denied that any internal examination had taken place.

The unidentified woman told the Guardian newspaper: ‘A man doctor came in. I asked to be seen by a lady doctor but they said ”no”.

‘He was wearing rubber gloves and took some medicine out of a tube and put it on some cotton and inserted it into me. He said he was deciding whether I was pregnant now or had been pregnant before.

‘I said that he could see that without doing anything to me, but he said there was no need to get shy.

‘I have been feeling very bad mentally ever since. I was very embarrassed and upset. I had never had a gynaecological examination before.’

Details of the doctor’s examination were documented for the Home Office.

He wrote: ‘Penetration of about half an inch made it apparent that she had an intact hymen and no other internal examination was made … The only time she was bare chested was for the X-ray examination… The doctor told the immigration officer verbally that the lady had not had children and she was then given conditional leave to enter for three months as a fiancee.’

But the file also reveals that after the incident became public the woman was offered £500 to ensure she did not sue.

The payment, offered through her solicitors, was to be ‘in recognition of the distress she had been caused’ but she also had to agree ‘not to initiate any proceedings against the Home Office’.

It was emphasised that it was not ‘compensation’, which would have implied that immigration staff had acted improperly, and the then home secretary, Merlyn Rees, while expressing his ‘deep regret’ carefully, did not make an official apology to her.

The files were unearthed at the National Archives in London by two Australian legal academics.

The demand for an apology was backed by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which was involved in the original 1979 case.

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: ‘These practices occurred thirty years ago and were clearly wrong.

‘This government’s immigration policies reflect the UK’s legal responsibilities and respect immigrants’ human rights.’
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The body of aspiring model Emily Longley, who grew up in Auckland in New Zealand, was discovered at an address in Bournemouth, Dorset, on Saturday morning.

Last Wednesday, the 17-year-old had shared her fears with friends on the popular social networking site.

She wrote: ”I have a stalker!!!”

The teenager went on later to post: ”Someone just called me and I was like ‘Who’s this?’

”And they were like ‘You don’t know me but I know everything about you’ and I was like ‘How did you get my number?’ and he was like ‘I’ll tell you when I see you’ and kept asking me out.

”So I hung up and they won’t stop calling.

”I’m really scared! Ha. It’s a private number as well. Some people need to get a life!”

On May 5 she posted that she was ”down and out”.

Two days later she was found dead at a bungalow in Queenswood Avenue.

An inquest into the death of the Brockenhurst College student was opened and adjourned by the Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset Coroner today.

Police described the cause of Miss Longley’s death as ”undetermined subject to toxicology tests”.

Two Bournemouth men aged 19 and 17 were arrested on Saturday but have since been released on police bail pending further enquiries, a Dorset Police spokesman said.

Emily’s father, Mark Longley, said she apparently died in her sleep but the cause of her death remains a mystery.

”It is a huge shock to us, and Caroline (Emily’s mother) and I are going to England to try and find out what happened,” Mr Longley told the New Zealand Herald.

”She was a beautiful girl and full of life, it is so tragic.”

Friends of the teenager have set up the ”R.I.P Emily Longley” group on Facebook and hundreds of people have left tributes to her.

In one message on Facebook her father said: ”She was a real force for life.

”We all loved you honey. So much.

”It is so nice to see she was so loved. Thank you everyone for your kind words.”

Friend Chloe Berghan wrote: ”Emily, this is so unreal, I thought I’d be seeing you in fashion magazines modelling for Chanel, you are an amazing, beautiful and elegant girl and were too young to be taken from us. RIP xxx”

Emily, who had worked at Topshop, had been living in Bournemouth with a relative for around eight months after leaving New Zealand.

She had returned to visit friends and family last month and had only returned to the UK a month before her death.

Detective Inspector Neil Devoto, who is leading the investigation, said: ”I am appealing for anyone who witnessed anything suspicious or unusual in the area either this morning or during last night, and anyone who has any information regarding this incident, to contact police urgently.”

Unemployment figures published today reveal that one in five young people are unemployed, but women across all age groups are bearing the brunt of joblessness.

Unemployment hits women hardest (Reuters)

The Office of National Statistics’ labour market statistics bulletin reported that the number of out of work 16-25-year-olds reached 963,000 in the three months to February – an increase of 12,000 on previous figures published in January.

That the number of young people out of work remains high has renewed fears that a ‘lost generation’, unable to find work in the crucial early stages of their working lives, will emerge from the aftermath of the recent recession.

Unemployment hit the youngest section of this age group the hardest, with the number of unemployed 16 to 17-year-olds reaching 218,000 – an increase of 14,000 on the quarter. However, a TUC spokesman told Channel 4 News: “We wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from this younger age group, as the picture is more mixed.” A more reliable indication can be gleaned from the number of out of work 18-to-24-year-olds, which fell by 2,000 on the quarter to 745,000.

Indeed, overall, the figures for this age group are actually a slight improvement on those earlier this year, which showed the total number of unemployed young people to have reached nearly one million – the highest level of youth unemployment since records began in 1992. And across all age groups, the unemployment rate reduced from 8 per cent to 7.8 percent.

However, Ian Brinkley, director of socio-economic programmes at The Work Foundation, said that although these were “better figures than expected”, caution was necessary given that “serious underlying structural problems remain”. He pointed to unemployment among young people and also long-term unemployment among the over 50s as being cause for concern.

Women workers worst affected

In both these age groups, unemployment figures for women are higher than those for men. As ONS spokesman David Bradbury told Channel 4 News: “The pattern in recent months is that things are better for men and worse for women. This is different to the height of recession when men were most affected.”

Over the course of the last year, as the UK emerged from recession, female unemployment went up by 64,000, Mr Bradbury said, while male unemployment went down by 69,000. Click here for more on those figures.

‘Women are now re-entering the labour market in larger numbers in the hope of finding work’ – Tom Phillips, The Work Foundation

The TUC told Channel 4 News: “A recent TUC analysis found that since the recession young female joblessness had nearly trebled in the South West, and more than doubled in the North West, Yorkshire, West Midlands, South East and Scotland. With jobs in the public sector – a key career route for young women – starting to go over the course of the year, the figures are set to get even worse.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Female unemployment has been rising many months and the number of women out of work is at a level last seen in the late 1980s. What’s particularly worrying is that these figures come before public sector job losses really start to bite.

“With hundreds of thousands of jobs set to go in local government alone – where three quarters of staff are female – there are real fears that rising female joblessness could increase in pace.”

Tom Phillips, spokesman for The Work Foundation, said: “Women’s employment has started to recover, but women’s unemployment still went up, in contrast to men. One reason is that women are now re-entering the labour market in larger numbers in the hope of finding work. But the experiences of older and younger women differ significantly. Unemployment among young women between 18 and 24 is 16 per cent compared with just over three per cent for women over 50.”

Concern that public sector cuts will have a disproportionately adverse affect on women have already been voiced. According to the Fawcett Society, which campaigns and researches for issues of relevance to UK women, the majority of savings in the budget would ‘come from women’s pockets’ through the freezing of benefits and public sector pay freezes.

Up to 80 per cent of women in public sector jobs at risk

The Society, who issue a report tomorrow on the impact of the budget and the latest employment figures, argue that cuts in public sector funding and public sector jobs affect women disproportionately because women form the bulk of the workforce in the public sector. And within areas such as local government and the NHS (where women comprise around three quarters of the workforce) women are often concentrated into the lower-grade and insecure jobs which often take the first hit. For this reason the Fawcett Society estimate the actual percentage of women at risk from public sector cuts to be nearer 70 per cent, while the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development puts that figure at closer to 80 per cent.

Private sector no antidote

Anna Bird, spokesperson for the Fawcett Society told Channel 4 News that private sector employment is not ‘an antidote’ to public sector cuts. She points out that given the private sector has historically lagged behind the public sector in the pay gap between men and women, is slower to promote women at the top, and employs only 40 per cent of women in its workforce, even if jobs are created for women, the quality of those jobs may be somewhat poorer than their public sector counterparts.

As Mr Phillips noted: “Looking over the recovery so far women have been adversely affected by two trends – the drop in employment in the public sector and parts of the banking sector and weak employment growth in more traditional industries such as retailing and hospitality. These sectors all have above average shares of female employment. In contrast, manufacturing and high tech and professional services have seen some recovery in employment and these sectors all employ large numbers of men.”

The number of women claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has reached a near 15-year high as experts expect levels to continue rising amid public sector cuts.

Official data confirmed that while the overall level of unemployment dropped by 17,000 to 2.48 million, the numbers claiming job-related benefits rose.

The so-called claimant count increased by 700 last month to 1.45 million, including 462,300 women, the highest figures since October 1996, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Analysts said women were suffering higher unemployment levels because of public sector cuts where they tend to represent a higher proportion of the work force.

Vicky Redwood, an economist at Capital Economics, said: “It reflects the job cuts in the public sector as women are vulnerable to these. And that is even before the public sector cuts have really got going.”

She (SNP: ^SHEYnews) added: “More women may also be looking for work as they need to help pay higher household bills.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “While today’s unemployment figures are a welcome relief after a slew of poor economic data, not everyone will be sharing in the jobs cheer. Female unemployment has been rising many months.

“What’s particularly worrying is that these figures come before public sector job losses really start to bite.

“With hundreds of thousands of jobs set to go in local government alone where three quarters of staff are female there are real fears that rising female joblessness could increase in pace.

“Female unemployment is really hurting household incomes, which already under strain due to tax credit cuts and the growing gap between wages and living costs.”

Changes to the benefits system also mean women switched from income support to Jobseeker’s Allowance over the past two months.

Unemployment is predicted to reach 2.75 million by the middle of next year, by some economists.

Howard Archer, an economist at Global Insight, said: “Major job losses will occur in the public sector as the government slashes spending, and we doubt that the private sector will be able to fully compensate for this.

“We suspect that firms will be very cautious in their employment plans, reflecting slower growth and concerns that the intensified fiscal squeeze will hold back economic activity for an extended period.”

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the figures were a ‘step in the right direction’.

“The fall in unemployment is welcome,” he said.