How does an abortion work, what happens at a clinic and are abortion pills legal in the UK?

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ONE in three women will have an abortion before turning 45 – but how do they work?

Here’s our lowdown on what happens at the clinic, the different types of abortion you can get, and whether you can have one at home.

 Abortions are currently permitted up to 24 weeksGetty Images Abortions are currently permitted up to 24 weeks

How does an abortion work

Women in the UK can have two kinds of abortion – medical and surgical.

A medical abortion consists of taking two different kinds of medicine, one after the other.

The first – mifepristone – cuts the the hormone that allows the baby to develop.

The second – misoprostol – is taken 24 to 48 hours later and causes the lining of the womb to break down.

Further doses of misoprostol may be necessary if the pregnancy as gone on for longer than nine weeks.

 The Abortion Act of 1967 allows the NHS to offer them to patientsAlamy The Abortion Act of 1967 allows the NHS to offer them to patients

A surgical abortion involves a doctor physically removing the pregnancy.

There are two kinds – suction aspiration or dilation and extraction.

Suction aspiration involves a doctor inserting a tube through the entrance to the womb and vacuuming out the fetus.

Dilation and extraction is usually needed if the pregnancy has gone on longer than fifteen weeks. It involves using forceps to physically remove the fetus after dilating the cervix.

It is usually carried out with conscious sedation or a full general anaesthetic.

Are abortion pills legal in the UK?

Abortion pills are legal in the UK, but most people must take them with the supervision of a registered medical practitioner – usually a nurse.

Scotland is the only part of the UK that allows the patient to take the drugs at home.




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