Abortion - Reasons 

Why an abortion may be necessary 

A woman may decide to have an abortion due to her personal circumstances. But there are also medical reasons why an abortion may be necessary.

The Abortion Act 1967 states that provided a pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week, an abortion may be carried out if:

  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to the woman's life than ending the pregnancy
  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk of injury to the woman's physical or mental health than ending the pregnancy
  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to the physical or mental health of any of the woman's existing children
  • there is a significant risk that the baby would be born with a serious physical or mental disability – read more about termination for foetal abnormality

The Act also makes it clear that two registered medical practitioners must both agree about the above points. In practice, this gives doctors a great degree of flexibility in referring women for abortions and supporting their request to proceed.

Read more about the Abortion Act 1967.

Deciding to have an abortion

Deciding to have an abortion can be difficult and a number of factors – social, economic, emotional – may be involved. But there is a wide range of information and advice services available to help you make your decision.

Your GP is one of the best people you can ask for advice about having an abortion. As well as being able to give you information about the procedure itself, they will also be able to discuss all your available options. Any discussion you have with your GP will be completely confidential.

If you don't feel comfortable talking to your GP, you may prefer to contact an organisation such as:

  • Marie Stopes International one of the UK's leading providers of sexual and reproductive healthcare services; you can call their 24 hour helpline on 0845 300 8090
  • Brook a national voluntary organisation that provides free and confidential sexual health advice and services aimed specifically at people under 25 years of age; Brook currently provide a text and webchat service 9am-3pm Monday to Friday 
  • the Family Planning Association (FPA) a UK charity that provides sexual health information; you can contact the FPA's confidential helpline on 0845 122 8687 if you live in Northern Ireland

Page last reviewed: 18/07/2014

Next review due: 18/07/2016


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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Lpivu3 said on 27 July 2013

I just recently found this page an it has been a lot of help,I'm from Ireland were abortions are illegal.when I found out I was pregnant a week ago I was terrified but knew I didn't want to keep the baby because my boyfriend an I had just broken up an we used to live together in scotland but I have had to move to my brothers house in England an my question is my registered address is still scotland will I get refused a termination because its not changed to my current address?my dad is very old fashioned and traditional an catholic if he knew I was pregnant he'd go mad,any information would be greatly appreciated,thank you :)

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star_shine said on 17 July 2013

there are a few points on these pages where it says that "personal circumstances" are a reason for an abortion, but it is never made clear what this means. Can it be something as personal and individual as not feeling prepared to go through with a pregnancy, or are there specific personal circumstances which this refers to?

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sp84 said on 29 April 2012

i would just to advise women who are thinking or having an abortion to consider the procedure that they have carefully. i myself took the decision to have an abortion just yesterday. i opted for the medical abortion where you basically go in to hospital and take medicine to make you miscarry the pregnancy. i just wanted women to be aware, as i did not fully understand that when you pass the pregnancy it is clearly visible what you are passing and very distressing. you then have to transfer the foetus in to a cardboard bowl or bag and show it to the nurses so they can see if you have passed everything. this involves handling the foetus in order to remove it from your sanitary towel so they can see you have miscarried, if they don't see it they may keep you in hospital. the whole process is very painful and distressing and i just wanted to share my experience in as frank and honest a way as possible so other women in my position may make a decision based on the reality of the situation. had i known fully the extent of the things i would have to see yesterday i would definitely have opted for a surgical abortion . i was 9 weeks pregnant and have to say the staff were amazing but the experience was very distressing none the less. please think carefully about the route which you decide to take.

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Spor Bishkek said on 07 April 2012

The choice does not have to be difficult.

I found out I was pregnant on a Monday. I made a decision by Tuesday morning.

The procedure was booked in and completed within 5 days.

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Kittensocks said on 20 January 2011

Very well said Xtina. I was appalled to read the comment when i was looking at this page. Making a decision to have an abortion has been one of the hardest things I have had to do and found Lauras comments incredibly unhelpful. I reported the content as inappropriate and the NHS said they will not remove as does not break their guidelines!!

My reasoning for this procedure is I also do not feel I can financially support a child and the relationship I am in has not been stable in recent months, I therefore do not feel is right to bring a child into the world without the best start. I have too much pride to just assume i can claim benefits and am still shocked that a post such as Lauras is still on here.

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xtina said on 11 January 2011

@ laura
This comment is completely small minded. there are many reasons why a women may not feel able to go through with a pregnancy, i myself am 25 and already a mother of two gorgous children but having my first child at 17 means i understand the realism of being a teen mum. it is the hardest thing i have ever done so, if some women are unable to do this it is their decision. i am in a stable relationship with my childrens father, but my small budget is already stretched beyond capacity and i think it will be damaging to my children to stretch it any further by having another baby and i refuse to allow tax payers to feed my children (it makes me wonder how you will pay for yours) it is fine to feel strongly about such an emotive subject but please in future do not vent your views on a page meant to inform women about their choices regarding abortion and someone reading this page who may already be feeling vunerable might come accross your ignorant and frankly inconsiderate comment. i wonder why a girl so intent on keeping her baby is doing reading this information anyway??
well done on coming to the decision to keep your child, im sure you have considered the harsh realities involved in this and have come to your decision well informed and with a definate plan on how you will provide for him/her. Good luck with your impending motherhood because to be quite honest i think you and your baby are going to need it.

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