About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an annual update on termination of pregnancy to December 2023. Data are derived from the Termination of Pregnancy Submissions Scotland (ToPSS) system. Numbers and rates of termination are provided on a variety of characteristics such as previous termination, statutory ground, gestation and method of termination. The outcomes are described for Scotland, NHS board and local authority areas, and for age, ethnicity and deprivation sub-populations where numbers are sufficient.

Main points

  • Termination services in Scotland undertook 1,600 additional terminations in 2023 (18,207) compared to 16,607 in 2022, representing a 10% increase in service demand. This was equivalent to an increase in rate per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years from 16.1 in 2022 to 17.6 in 2023. Increases were observed across all age groups and in all NHS board areas.
Image caption Termination rates in Scotland, 2014 to 2023
  • There continues to be substantial variation in termination rates in different parts of Scotland, with a range of 9.4 to 21.2 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. In 2023 NHS Lanarkshire had the highest termination rate of any board.
  • The gap in termination rates between women living in most and least deprived areas continued to widen as rates in the most deprived areas rose faster than in the least deprived areas. This may represent inequity in access to earlier prevention of unplanned pregnancy through reliable contraception services.
  • Rates on self-reporting at least one previous termination have steadily climbed. In 2014 the rate was 3.6 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, increasing to 6.2 in 2022 and then to 7.0 in 2023. The previous termination rates in the most deprived areas were double those in the least deprived areas.
  • The proportion of terminations performed at less than nine weeks' gestation varied across NHS boards, from 56% in NHS Fife to 85% in NHS Lothian. Earlier gestation terminations were less likely when women were from more deprived areas and areas categorised as remote or rural.
  • All NHS boards offered some form of early medical abortion at home. There was considerable variation across board areas on whether one or both medicines were taken at home. NHS Borders had the highest proportion of terminations for both drugs taken at home (84.7%) and NHS Lanarkshire had the highest for the second drug only taken at home (86.9%).


An abortion can be either induced (therapeutic) or spontaneous (miscarriage). This report focuses on induced abortions only. We refer to these as terminations of pregnancy to avoid confusion with spontaneous abortions. Termination surveillance data are completed by staff in all NHS boards on the ToPSS system. Notifications of abortion are submitted separately by the service providers to the Chief Medical Officer (Scotland).

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 27 May 2025.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact Dr Sonya Scott at phs.maternitystats@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 17 May 2024
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