Many newspapers in Denmark reported on 17 February 2009 that there has been an alarming increase in the number of abortions among girls below 15 years of age. One paper (Berlingske.dk in Danish) reported it as a more than 200 percent increase over a decade. In 1998 there were 33 abortions among girls less than 15 years of age, while in 2007 there were 113 for the same age group. Looking for an explanation one paper (Jyllands-Posten in Danish) interviewed a doctor who said that the increase was due to deteriorating sex education in schools and lack of communication between parents and girls. Both of those explanations might be true, but how much has the number of abortions really gone up? The top graph show the development in the absolute numbers which is what the newspapers based their story on. Now that would be perfectly fine if the number of girls stayed the same over this period of time, but clearly that was not the case (and it takes all of 10 minutes to determine that from Denmark's Statistical Office). Hence, the bottom graph shows the development in the number of abortions per 1000 girls. The blue line is the rate for abortions per 1000 girls using those ages 12, 13 and 14, while the top one is the number of abortions per 1000 girls using those aged 13 or 14. True, the numbers have gone up, but 1998 begins to look like an anomaly and if that is the case the increase has been about 45 percent.
Furthermore, these numbers are so small there is bound to be a fair bit of noise. Unfortunately, I could not find earlier data on the number of abortions and there is also no on-line data on the number of births for girls below 15 years of age. One of the papers has the numbers for the first half of 2008 and if the number is the same for the second half the rate using girls 12-14 as base would fall back down to 1.06.