Abortion

If you have missed the deadline for taking emergency contraception and you find out you are pregnant and are not sure you want to carry on with the pregnancy, you should make sure you understand what an abortion is, who to talk to, where to go and what your options are.

Abortions are legal in England, Wales and Scotland up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. If there is a risk to the mother’s life or other serious complications, abortions are sometimes carried out later than 24 weeks. There are strict restrictions on abortions in Northern Ireland where it is not available on the NHS, so girls and women either have to pay for a private abortion or travel to England.

There is no age limit for having an abortion in England, Wales and Scotland – there are safe places that will counsel and offer treatment to girls of any age.

What is an abortion?
Also sometimes called a ‘termination’, an abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so that a baby will not be born. There are two types of abortion:

  • a medical abortion is when you take medication to force your body to have a miscarriage (where the foetus comes out of your vagina with bleeding, like a heavy period)
  • a surgical abortion is when you have a minor procedure to remove the foetus

Whether or not to have an abortion can be a complicated, difficult and scary decision to make and raises all sorts of big questions, particularly if you or your family has strong cultural and/or religious beliefs. Remember, however, it is your decision. If you find yourself in the position of having to make this decision, you will be given support, advice, counselling and care. Read the information on the following websites and find out where to go for help.