Scotland records highest ever abortion rate

Public Health Scotland has announced the highest abortion rate since records began in 1968.

Last year, there were 13.4 abortions per thousand women aged 15 to 44, up from 13.2 the previous year.

In total, there were 13,815 abortions in Scotland in 2020.

DIY abortions

Since emergency Covid legislation was introduced in March 2020, women in Scotland can have an unsupervised chemical abortion within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy after just a phone or video consultation with a doctor or nurse.

Chemical abortions involve taking two tablets – mifepristone, which kills the developing baby, and misoprostol which induces a miscarriage to expel it from the womb. The latest statistics reveal that almost all abortions – 97 per cent – are now being carried out this way.

In 2020, misoprostol was taken at home in almost eight out of ten chemical abortions, an increase of over 28 per cent on the previous year.

Mifepristone was taken at home in 38.5 per cent of all chemical abortions. Both drugs were taken at home on over 5,000 occasions.


In January, the Scottish Government closed its public consultation on making the DIY home abortion scheme permanent.

But according to a recent opinion poll by Savanta ComRes for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), seven in ten Scots are concerned about the unsupervised practice.

Writing in The Scotsman last year, Dr Calum MacKellar of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics said that home abortions show a disregard for human dignity – particularly with regards to baby’s remains being simply “discarded as worthless waste”.

He explained that in a clinic, an aborted child’s body is treated with some respect as they are typically placed in a box, taken to a mortuary and cremated. However, with home abortions, the remains are usually “flushed down the toilet or discarded as waste in another manner”.

Also see:

baby hand

More than 13,500 abortions performed in Scotland last year

DIY abortions ‘a terrible idea that fails vulnerable women’

Scottish Govt gives green light to ‘DIY abortions’

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