LONDON (Reuters) - Alcohol-fuelled Christmas parties, which led to unprotected sex, are believed to be the reason behind a record number of abortions carried out by a charity last month.
Nearly 6,000 women sought terminations at the nine centres of the Marie Stopes International (MSI) organisation in January, up 13 percent on the same period last year. MSI said on Thursday that was the highest in its 32-year history.
The rise in numbers comes despite a campaign by the charity in advance of last year’s party season, encouraging women to obtain emergency contraception.
There has been a steady rise in the number of abortions in England and Wales.
In 2005, the number was 185,700 across all abortion agencies, rising to 186,400 a year later, the Department of Health said.
MSI is calling for an annual government-funded national education campaign to alert people to the importance of preventing unwanted pregnancies.
“Despite our efforts, we have still seen the biggest rise ever in abortion figures in the month after Christmas,” said Liz Davies, MSI director of UK operations.
Davies added: “It’s too soon to say whether the figures we have recorded will be reflected across the country in official national statistics to be published later this year.
“It does seem, however, that we may be seeing the consequences of the festive season, when partying excess and alcohol consumption combine to increase libido and lower inhibition, with the inevitable consequences of unprotected sex resulting in unplanned pregnancies.”
A Department of Health spokesman said improving access to emergency contraception “is only one part of a complex picture” in reducing abortion rates.
“Our policy has always been that safe sex, using reliable contraception on a regular basis, is the best way for women to protect against unintended pregnancy,” he added.
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