A sexual health charity yesterday called for research into why women have late abortions as doctors voted against cutting the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks.
The Brook organisation also called for better education and improved access to contraception services as it raised concerns about the West Midlands having the worst record in Britain for early abortions.
The most recent figures show 18,000 women of all ages across the region have had a termination, of which 46 per cent were carried out before week nine.
In England and Wales, 182,000 women have terminated a pregnancy of which 58 per cent of abortions were performed before week nine.
Brook in Birmingham also stated that the number of late abortions, carried out after 12 weeks, was 53 per cent higher in the city than in the rest of the country. Late abortions are very rare, so figures are not released for any categories later than 13 weeks as it may compromise patient confidentiality.
However 13 per cent of all terminations are performed after week 13 - more than 32,700 according to the most recent figures, for 2003.
Penny Barber, the charity's chief executive, said: "The decision to have a termination is never easy and never taken lightly by any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.
"This is especially true for late abortions, which are not pleasant for anyone involved.
"It would be more useful to call for research into why these few women who have terminations after 22 weeks are requesting an abortion so late and work towards remedying this and to remove the requirement for a second doctor to authorise the procedure." She added: "We are concerned that the West Midlands has the worst record for early abortion - only 46 per cent of abortions take place before week nine, compared to 58 per cent nationally.
"In Birmingham, late terminations are 53 per cent higher than for the rest of the country. We call for continued expansion of sex and relationship education, improved access to confidential contraception services and speedier access to termination services when contraception fails."
Although the sexual health charity is not licensed to perform abortions at its clinics, staff carry out more than 5,000 pregnancy tests a year, a third of which are positive. Every woman is offered pregnancy counselling to identify and explore all options.
Ms Barber said: "At least half our clients with a positive pregnancy choose to terminate their pregnancy and are referred to an agency.
"Medical and counselling staff ensure clients have all the facts and emphasise that the client should not go ahead with a termination unless she is sure."