A dramatic rise in repeat abortions has reinforced fears that women are increasingly having terminations for lifestyle reasons, reports the London Daily Mail.

One in three abortions is now carried out on women who have had at least one before, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

Women between 20 and 24 have taken over from teenagers as the largest age group to have abortions – while only one in 100 abortions is carried out solely because of a medical risk to the baby.

Some observers warned the emotional and physical risks of abortion were being “swept under the carpet.” The procedure can make it more difficult for women to ever start a family, and many later suffer depression.

The new figures from the BPAS, Britain’s leading abortion provider, reveal that 181,582 terminations were carried out in England and Wales in 2003, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year and a 15 percent rise since 1993.

Among these, some 57,241 – 32 percent – were on women who had already undergone a termination at least once. This is almost a third higher than the 1993 figure.

Earlier this year it was revealed that one woman from London had six abortions in just 12 months.

Broadcaster and author Anne Atkins, whose book “Child Rearing For Fun” encourages people to embrace parenthood, said the abortion trend was “desperately sad.”

The mother of five said: “No one in their right mind should think abortion is a good thing that can be entered into lightly as a lifestyle choice. It is not a form of contraception. It can be harmful to women physically and emotionally, and these figures should worry everyone, even those who are pro-choice. Something is going wrong here and work needs to be done to address the problem.

“Abortion should be justified only in the most extreme circumstances and women need to be aware of the dangers,” she said. “It’s not good for the body, and many women suffer emotional problems they did not expect.”

Consultant gynecologist Dr. Himansu Basu said: “For many women abortion is not as straightforward as it might seem. It can cause infections and heavy bleeding and episodes of depression which can last several years.”

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