More women, including an alarming number of teenage girls, are having repeat abortions, the Government has admitted.
Among under-18s nearly 1,400 abortions were performed on girls who had already had one or two abortions. 18,619 pregnancies were terminated in total among under-18s in 2006.
Of the 200,000 abortions that took place in 2006, 32% were performed on women who had already had at least one other pregnancy terminated.
Of those, 3,804 followed three or more previous abortions, according to recent statistics cited by Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.
The figures will add considerable weight to the argument that abortion is being used as a form of contraception by some women.
Nadine Dorries, an MP campaigning for a reduction in the upper time limit for abortion, said: “What harder evidence do we need that the abortion law as it stands is being abused?
“Abortion is supposed to be allowed if a pregnancy poses a significant risk to a mother’s health or mental wellbeing.
“But in fact it’s being allowed over and over again for purely social reasons. Girls now get pregnant and think, ‘it doesn’t matter, I’ll just get an abortion’.”
The Department of Health said: “Women who have undergone abortion are at risk of future unintended pregnancies, and represent an important group with unmet contraceptive needs.
“Future contraception should be discussed, and supplies offered, before a woman is discharged following abortion.”