What Are The Uk Abortion Laws, Does The Nhs Offer Terminations And Which Countries Have Made Them Illegal?


FINDING out you are pregnant is a momentous and life-changing moment – but it is not always a happy one.

Here’s what you should know about abortion laws in the UK, and what options are open for pregnant women to terminate a pregnancy.

Getty Images Unwanted pregnancies in the England, Wales and Scotland can be terminated free of charge on the NHS

Is abortion legal in the UK?

In England, Scotland and Wales abortion has been a legal right since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967.

The termination is only legal when performed by a licensed medical professional (a doctor) and it must also be signed off by two other doctors.

Doctors in the UK have the right to refuse to sign off on your abortion if they have a moral objection to it, this can, unfortunately, mean needing to see more than two doctors to get the two signatures.

Religious views impact the law in Northern Ireland where the abortion laws differ. However, it is legal to travel from Northern Ireland to the UK to have a termination.

BBC Many soaps like Eastenders have covered the topic of abortion, here Lauren Branning makes a call to an abortion clinic

What criterion needs to be met if you want to proceed with an abortion?

In order to be eligible for a termination one (or more) of the following conditions must be met:

That the pregnancy has not exceeded 24 weeks The continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, more so than a termination There is a substantial risk that if the child is born they would suffer mental or physical abnormalities That the abortion is necessary to prevent permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman

Alamy Before the Abortion Act of 1967 abortion was illegal in England, Scotland and Wales forcing underground abortions

Is it illegal to terminate due to financial/social needs or based on gender?

The law does not state that a doctor has to take into account a woman’s environment when deciding whether she can legally abort, but they may choose to do so.

For example, a woman’s economic and social situation may impact on her health if she continued with the pregnancy.

There have previously been campaigns to make sex-selective abortions legal in the UK, but it remains illegal.

What countries have made abortion illegal?

Afghanistan Andorra Angola Antigua & Barbuda Bangladesh Bhutan Brazil Brunei Central African Republic Chile Congo Côte d’Ivoire Democratic Repblic of Congo Dominica Dominican Republic Egypt El Salvador Gabon Guatemala Guinea-Bissau Haiti Honduras Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Kiribati Laos Lebanon Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mexico Micronesia Myanmar Nicaragua Nigeria Oman Palau Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Philippines San Marino Sao Tome & Principe Senegal Soloman Islands Somalia South Sudan Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Syria Tanzania Timor-Leste Tonga Tuvalu Uganda United Arab Emirates Venezuela West Bank & Gaza Strip Yemen

What is a HSA documents and why are they needed?

The HSA documents are necessary in order to proceed with a termination; there are different forms depending on whether the termination is an emergency or routine.

HSA1 – the certificate of opinion (signed by two physicians) required by law under Section 1 of the Abortion Act. HSA2 – Would need to be signed by a doctor within 24 hours of an emergency abortion.

Both these forms will be kept on medical records for a minimum of three years.

There is also a HSA4 form which would be completed by the doctor who performed the termination, within 14 days of it taking place, and sent to the Chief Medical Officer.

Alamy A rising number of women are using illegal abortion pills, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service warned in February of this year

How do you get an abortion?

Abortions are only legal (and as safe as possible) if carried out by a licensed medical practitioner.

There are three main ways to do this free of charge through the NHS:

Speak to your GP and ask for a referral to an abortion service – your GP should refer you to another doctor if they have any objections to abortion Visit a contraception clinic, family planning clinic, sexual health clinic or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic and ask for a referral to an abortion service Contact an abortion provider directly – the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Marie Stopes UK and the National Unplanned Pregnancy Advisory Service (NUPAS) can tell you about eligibility and services in your area

What happens next?

Before having an abortion an appointment to discuss the decision and the details is booked.

Generally, there are two options:

A medical abortion- you take two medications 24 to 48 hours apart to induce a miscarriage Surgical abortion- you have a minor procedure to end the pregnancy and go home soon after

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