Abortion Laws


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There is lots of contradicting information about abortions from pro-choice to anti-abortion campaigners.  All this information and debate can be confusing and sometimes misleading.  This can make your decision even harder.  How you feel is and whether it is right or wrong is down to your individual religious and personal beliefs and it is a decision that only you can make.  Whether various campaigners think it is right or wrong is one thing but the law has its own views and these are the regulations that you have to abide by.

Until relatively recently Abortion was not legal in the UK.  However, to reduce the number of back street abortion clinics the government introduced the Abortion Act 1967. 

The Abortion Act was drafted in 1967 with the aim of reducing the risks to women of unsafe abortion practices at disreputable clinics.

It states if you are under 24 weeks pregnant you can have an abortion if you meet the following criteria. 

In England, Wales and Scotland under the 1967 Abortion Act you must obtain agreement to your abortion by two doctors and they must agree that:

  • You must be less than 24 weeks pregnant
  • Your pregnancy will cause stress and upset your mental health and the mental and physical health of any children you may already have, more so than if you were end the pregnancy.
  • Your life would be at risk if you were to continue with your pregnancy
  • The baby is at significant risk of having physical or mental disabilities

In reality most abortions are carried out before 13 weeks.  The earlier in your pregnancy you are the less intrusive the abortion and the faster the recovery.

Abortions in Northern Ireland & Jersey

If you live in Northern Ireland you can only have an abortion if there is a risk of having permanent or long term mental health issues caused by the pregnancy.  Although the 1967 Abortion Act was never enacted in Northern Ireland, women living there do not have the same rights as women in England, Scotland and Wakes.  Consequently, women in Northern Ireland have to travel to England, Scotland or Wales to have an abortion.

Jersey also has slightly different laws for abortion.  If you live in Jersey you can only have an abortion if you are under 12 weeks pregnant and the pregnancy is causing you distress, if you are less than 24 weeks pregnancy and the baby is severely disabled or if your life is at risk.


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