Lord David Steel, who introduced the 1967 Abortion Act, says that abortion is now being used as a form of contraception in Britain and admits he never anticipated "anything like" the current number of terminations when leading the campaign for reform. Speaking on the eve of the of the 40th anniversary of the Act which made abortion legal under certain circumstances, Lord Steel said an "irresponsible" mood has emerged in which women feel they can turn to abortion "if things go wrong". "Everybody can agree that there are too many abortions," he says in an interview in today's Guardian, calling for better sex education and access to contraceptive advice and a debate over sexual morality to help bring the numbers down. But Lord Steel, said he has "no regrets" over the landmark legislation, and does not regard restricting access to abortion as the answer to the rising number of terminations. He says he is not yet persuaded that the upper legal time limit should be cut from its present 24 weeks - a limit endorsed by the BMA and other medical bodies - and believes there is a strong case that the requirement for two doctors' signatures in order to have an abortion should be dropped in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy in order to limit delays and distress. There were almost 194,000 terminations in England and Wales last year, rising to over 200,000 when women coming from Northern Ireland and the Irish republic are included. That was almost 4% up on the previous year, with abortions among teenagers the fastest rising group. To read the full article paste the following url into your browser: www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,,2197922,00.html
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