Abortion means choosing to end a pregnancy. People have lots of different feelings about abortion and you will need to think about how you feel about it for yourself.

There are different laws for abortion in England, Wales and Scotland, in Northern Ireland and in Jersey. Please make sure you are looking at the right information. 

England, Wales and Scotland

In England, Wales and Scotland abortion is legal if you are less than 24 weeks pregnant and if two doctors agree that it is necessary for one of the following reasons

  • having a baby would upset your mental or physical health more than having an abortion. This means you need to explain how you feel the pregnancy would affect your life to a doctor.
  • having the baby would harm the mental or physical health of any children you already have.

An abortion is also legal at any time in pregnancy if two doctors agree that:

  • an abortion is necessary to save your life
  • an abortion would prevent serious permanent harm to your mental or physical health
  • there is a high risk that the baby would be seriously handicapped.

The number of weeks pregnant you are is calculated from the first day of your last period. It doesn't matter if you don't know exactly, a doctor will help you work it out. 

Northern Ireland

Unfortunately, abortion is not legal in Northern Ireland. The only legal reason for a woman being allowed an abortion in Northern Ireland is when there is a serious risk to her mental or physical health and the risk is permanant or long term.

This means that woman in Northern Ireland cannot arrange to have an abortion there. However, there is the option of travelling to England, Scotland or Wales and arranging an abortion there.This does mean that women from Northern Ireland aren't entitled to NHS treament and have to pay to have an abortion at a private clinic.

If you are in Northern Ireland and need more information on travelling for an abortion, you will need to contact a private abortion service like Marie Stopes on 0845 300 80 90 or BPAS on 08457 30 40 30

You can get confidential advice and counselling from the FPA in Northern Ireland by calling 0845 122 8687 or, if you are under 19, from the Brook centre in Belfast. 


In Jersey it is legal to have an abortion if two doctors agree that one of the following applies:

  • the woman is no more than 12 weeks pregnant and it is causing her distress;
  • the woman is no more than 24 weeks pregnant and the baby is suffering from a severe incurable abnormality which would cause it to be born with the expectation of an exceedingly poor quality of life;
  • an abortion is necessary to save the woman's life or to prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health.

If you need more information on abortion, you can get in touch with Ask Brook. Ask Brook is confidential. That means we won't tell anyone you contacted us unless we think you're in really serious danger.


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  • How can I get an abortion?

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    For a free abortion on the NHS you need to be referred by a doctor. Click here to find out where you can go.

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