The rate of abortion among young people and teenage pregnancy in Cornwall have fallen in 2013, with the most rapid decline in younger women.
Figures released by the Department of Health show that the abortion rates for under-18s dropped by 18 per cent from 11 cases per thousand in 2012 to 9 in 2013.
Figures for the 18 and 19-year old group also fell, continuing a trend which began in 2010. Overall, the total abortion rate in Cornwall (for women aged 15-44) reduced from 13.3 to 12.5 cases per thousand, a six per cent reduction.
Nationally, the abortion rate has fallen to the lowest it has been for 16 years. Rates for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are lower than the national average of 15.9 per thousand for all women, and 11.7 for those under 18.
This latest data comes at a time when Cornwall continues to also see a decline in its rates of teenage pregnancy. Information from the Office of National Statistics shows that Cornwall’s average rate of teenage pregnancy was 26.2 per thousand women under 18 in March 2013, down from 30.6 per thousand the previous year.
Health bosses say that the decrease in the number of abortions, particularly for women under the age of 19, combined with a decline in the rates of teenage pregnancy, indicates that women are able to access effective forms of contraception to prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
Adding that easy access to a full range of contraception is vital in supporting women to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Cornwall Council provides "comprehensive, free, confidential contraception services" for all women in Cornwall.
Louise Sweeney, teenage pregnancy and sexual health Coordinator, said: ‘It is vital women of all ages, especially young women under the age of 25, are able to access a range of contraceptive services to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Long-acting, reversible contraception, like the implant or IUS, is particularly important as it is very effective in preventing unplanned pregnancy. This is because it can’t be forgotten or used incorrectly, something that may happen unintentionally when using the pill or a condom.
"Our C-Card scheme in Cornwall teaches young people how to use condoms correctly and there are over 200 places in Cornwall they can get free condoms through the C-Card scheme. Young people aged 16–25 are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, so it is important young people use condoms in addition to hormonal contraception to help prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections."
There is information on how to access these services on the Cornwall young people’s website EEFO (www.eefo.net) and the Cornwall Sexual Health and Contraception website (www.cornwallshac.org.uk).
Louise added: "The most important thing if you live in Cornwall is to know where to go to access these services and you can do this by going on the EEFO or Cornwall SHAC websites.’
If any woman is concerned or unsure what help is available she should contact her GP, pharmacy, local sexual health service, or Brook if she is under 25.