Concerns over access to contraception in Blackpool as abortion rates increase

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One male councillor questioned whether women considering a termination were given all options

 

An aerial view of Blackpool at night time
An aerial view of Blackpool at night time (Image: Charlotte Graham photography)

The number of women in Blackpool having an abortion is increasing with the rate “significantly higher” than national figures.

Now more is to be done to encourage access to contraception so fewer women are faced with unwanted pregnancies.

The total abortion rate per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in Blackpool in 2019 was 26.8, compared to the England rate of 18.7 per 1,000.

Among women aged under 25, the rate in Blackpool has increased from 30 per 1,000 women in 2014 to 35 per 1,000 women in 2020 (compared to 22 nationally).

Among women aged over 25, the rate has increased from 15 per 1,000 in 2014 to 26 per 1,000 in 2020 (compared to around 17 nationally).

Of those women aged under 25 years who had an abortion in 2019, the proportion who had had a previous abortion was 28.3 per cent, similar to 27.7 per cent in England.

Judith Mills, consultant in public health for Blackpool Council, told a meeting of the adult social care and health scrutiny committee: “Abortion rates continue to increase, as in the rest of the country, but it is an area where we need to refocus our efforts.”

This includes to improve services encouraging the use of contraception.

Ms Mills said access to contraception needed to be “totally embedded” in the process when a women chose to have a termination.

But she warned this could be “difficult to achieve because of all the emotional turmoil at that time.”

She added: “The commitment from providers is there and we need to get access to contraception up as high as possible.

“Also in maternity services, we need to make access to contraception as easy as possible.”

Coun Peter Hunter questioned whether women considering a termination, were given all options including going through with their pregnancy as part of the counselling process.

Ms Mills said: “There is a very in-depth counselling and support mechanism to make sure women are making the best decision for them.”

Meanwhile the number of teenage pregnancies in Blackpool remains higher than the national average but the rate has dropped considerably in recent years.

Figures presented to the committee showed in 2019, the conception rate for under-18s in Blackpool was 31.1 per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17 years, compared to the rate of 15.7 in England.

However this has reduced from a rate of 66.8 per 1,000 girls in 2009 (when the national figure was 37.1).

A council report says: “While Blackpool does have higher teenage pregnancy rate than the national average, overall the gap between Blackpool and England is continuing to narrow.”