London (CNSNews.com) - The number of teenage mothers in deprived parts of Britain is on the rise because there is still a social stigma attached to abortion, according to a new study released here.
Pro-lifers in Britain have slammed the report, saying it is part of a wider, pro-abortion agenda being promoted by a government concerned about the high rate of teenage pregnancy.
The report is the work of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent social policy research institute. Surveys in an urban area that has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country have shown that many teenagers who fall pregnant choose not to have abortions for fear of opposition from family and rejection by friends.
The foundation surveyed more than 40 teenagers who had either had an abortion or elected to have their babies.
Not only did pregnant youngsters not have their families' support for the abortion option, there was also inadequate sex education, the foundation said.
"Anti-abortion views were prevalent and families had not discussed abortion as an
option," the Rowntree Foundation said. "In contrast, young motherhood was highly visible and had been discussed within families."
The girls were in the main influenced by attitudes and experiences they had before
they fell pregnant. The report quoted one young mother as saying her boyfriend's parents had said an abortion would amount to murder.
Others said if they were known to have had an abortion they would be rejected by their friends and would probably not be able to continue attending school.
Pro-abortion activists welcomed the report, saying it showed that young women needed to have access to "non judgmental" information about the choices open to them.
Co-author of the report, Sharon Tabberer of the University of York, said young women needed more information about abortion.
"Continuing support should be available to pregnant teenagers whatever they decide, but not least if their choice goes against expectations in the wider community," she said.
While few pro-lifers would argue with the need for teenagers to get advice when facing the difficulties presented by a surprise pregnancy, it's the type and emphasis of that advice that worry them.
As it is, more than 15,000 under-18 girls have abortions each year. That's two-fifths the number who become pregnant.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said the Rowntree Foundation report was clearly trying to foist abortion on youngsters in poor areas.
"The report complains that not enough young mothers contemplate an abortion," said the society's general secretary, Paul Tully. "It complains that family support led many teenagers to decide against abortion."
Tully linked families' opposition to abortion to parents' own experiences. Today's parents of teenagers had grown up with the liberalization of abortion laws, he said. Many had themselves had abortions or knew someone who had.
"Many will appreciate the devastating psychological effects which abortion can have on women, as well as the physical complications," Tully said. "They are, in fact, well qualified to appreciate the true nature of abortion."
Tully also noted that the report's publication coincided with the appointment of 140 government officials "charged with promotion abortion among school girls."
This suggested that the report was "part of a wider pro-abortion agenda which is being pushed subtly yet unremittingly by government."
The government has set a target of halving the rate of teenage conceptions within 10 years.