The number of twelve-year-old girls becoming pregnant and having abortions is increasing, and "society just has to come to terms with that", a leading abortion provider says.
In 2004 there were 15 girls aged twelve who had abortions, up from 10 in 2003, according to figures obtained from the Department of Health by The Sunday Times using freedom of information laws.
Among 13-year-olds, 142 girls had abortions in 2004, increasing from 138 in the previous year.
Ann Furedi, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a nationwide abortion provider, told The Sunday Times: "This is a tiny number of girls. Children grow up very quickly in our society.
"They are maturing faster physically, psychologically and socially, and society just has to come to terms with that."
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service is a registered charity heavily funded with public money. It latest published accounts show an annual income of over £23 million, but only £2,000 of that came from donations.
Almost all its income comes from fees. It facilitates abortions for almost 50,000 women each year, nearly 80% under contracts with the NHS.
Dr Rhona Knight, a family doctor, disagrees that girls are simply choosing to have sex at earlier ages.
She said: "The message given out is that the boys will use a condom or the girls can go on the pill, but they end up pregnant which is extremely sad.
"We need to empower these girls to realise that they do not need to have sex at that age."