Life groups say latest abortion figures are "a national tragedy"

 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has said last year's England and Wales abortion statistics, just published, are evidence of a national tragedy. Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "The 2002 abortion figures for England and Wales show no significant shift in the number of recorded abortions or in the rate of abortions per 1,000 women in their main child-bearing years. "These figures confirm the prediction that, by the end of this year, 6,000,000 unborn children will have been aborted in Britain since the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act. "Furthermore, the government's strategy of reducing recorded abortion by promoting the morning-after pill is not working. On the contrary, unrecorded early abortions caused by the morning-after pill would undoubtedly add many thousands to these figures. It is a tragedy." However, Student LifeNet has welcomed the decrease in both the under-16 and under-24 abortion rate revealed in the new figures. "Student LifeNet welcomes the 0.2% decrease in the under-16 abortion rate and particularly the 1.34% decrease in the 20-24 age group abortion rate" said Patrick Leahy, director of Student LifeNet. "However the abortion rates for all age groups still remain unacceptably high. We strongly believe that such a high rate is a reflection that women are being denied real "choice". From our experience there remains a large percentage of student mothers who are forced into having an abortion due to a lack of practical and financial support. "Although we have welcomed the increased welfare provided by the Labour government, we would like to see such support further increased and better publicised, so that no woman has to choose between her education and her unborn child."