Most women who have abortions between 19 and 24 weeks into pregnancy do so because they only realise they are pregnant late on, Marie Stropes International reveals today.
In a survey of more than 100 women who had undergone terminations close to the legal limit of 24 weeks, most had not realised they were pregnant until just before they sought an abortion.
Only 2% of abortions are carried out after 20 weeks in the UK. Anti-abortion campaigners have called for the legal limit of 24 weeks to be reduced, because medical advances have resulted in some premature babies surviving at 22 or 23 weeks. This was supported by Tory leader Michael Howard.
Some late detections of pregnancy were down to women using the mini-pill.
But some women terminated their pregnancy late after their relationships deteriorated – one woman was beaten with a baseball bat by her partner when he discovered she was pregnant.