The high number of women undergoing more than one abortion has prompted renewed concern about the effectiveness of UK sexual health policy.
Official figures, revealed in parliamentary answers from the Department of Health, showed that more than 5,000 women under 20 had had an abortion for at least the second time in 2008. Conservative shadow health minister Anne Milton was told 5,218 women under 20 in England and a further 15,029 aged between 20 and 24 had another abortion. All those involved were single.
Former nurse Ms Milton described the statistics as "a huge concern" .
She said: "Why is it that we are not able to reduce the number of young girls who not only end up with one unwanted pregnancy, but then just go back and have another?"
Figures from the NHS show approximately 3,800 women have had four or more abortions, and that about a third of 2008's 195,296 terminations in England and Wales were repeat abortions.
The findings were proof that young people require "continuous and consistent sex education"., said Tony Kerridge from Marie Stopes International.
He added: "It's not rocket science. You only have to look at Scandinavian countries, where the abortion rate is lowest and the age of first sexual encounter is highest, to see what a massive difference it makes to have compulsory sex education for every child from a young age."
Copyright © Press Association 2009
<http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/index.htm> (Department of Health)