A worrying number of abortions are being carried out on twelve and 13-year-old girls in Scotland, figures obtained from NHS Scotland reveal.
It emerged that eight twelve-year-olds and 87 13-year-olds had abortions between 2000 and 2008.
Thousands of young girls under the age of 16 had abortions over the same period.
Last night the figures were described as “appalling and distressing”. They also rekindled calls for more sex education in Scotland.
Yet despite increased provision of information and contraception for youngsters, the Scottish Government looks likely to fall short of its 2010 target to cut teenage pregnancy rates by a fifth.
The figures were obtained using a Freedom of Information request by the Daily Record newspaper.
The Record reports that in recent years, more under-16s have chosen to terminate a pregnancy than have their baby.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Peter Kearney, said the Government’s sexual health strategy “is working perfectly – because part of that strategy was fast and instant access to widespread abortion services. Unfortunately, it is completely the wrong strategy.”
Mr Kearney warned: “Until politicians and health professionals stop counting abortion as a solution and realise what an appalling problem it is, these numbers will probably get worse.
“They are all girls below the age of consent and that asks a very serious question of GPs in Scotland”, and added that the statistics should be made freely available every year.
The Scottish Government were said to be “disappointed” as new abortion figures released in May showed a record high.
Between 2007 and 2008 the number of abortions performed had risen by 79 to 13,817, an all-time high. Over 3,000 were carried out on teenagers, 343 on girls aged below 16.
Former health minister Susan Deacon, who was influential in Scotland’s sexual health strategy said: “I have no hesitation in saying we should do more to encourage young people to delay sexual relationships.
“But a lot of young people are going to have sex. In some cases, it will be appropriate to offer more and better contraceptive solutions for these girls.
“Yes, they are under the age of consent. But you have to boil it down to this – would you rather these young people get pregnant or not?”
She added: “Some people would find it morally reprehensible for a 13-year-old girl to have a contraceptive implant, for example, but in limited circumstances and with appropriate support and supervision isn’t that preferable to becoming pregnant?”