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Accessing Abortion Services

Find out about how to access abortion services in the UK.

Abortion is when someone sometimes chooses to end a pregnancy because they don’t want to have a baby. It is sometimes called ‘termination’. 

If you’re in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you are entitled to an abortion paid for by the NHS and there are a number of ways you can get one.

UK citizens travelling from Northern Ireland to England for abortion can also have the procedure paid for by the NHS.

How to get an abortion

To get an abortion, you can start with your GP if you are comfortable to do so (or another GP if you don’t want to see your normal doctor), a Brook service or another sexual health service, and telling them that you need an abortion.

These services will not perform the abortion themselves but can refer you to a specialist service that can. Brook can also help you by offering pregnancy tests, information about all your options, and counselling before or after an abortion.

Alternatively, in many parts of the country you can refer yourself straight into abortion services without going to see your GP. Visit either British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) or MSI Reproductive Choices UK for further details.

The next step after this will involve an assessment with a doctor or nurse. This may be in a clinic or over the telephone. They can answer any questions or address any concerns you might have.

After this assessment they will make an appointment for you to come to the clinic to have the abortion or to be sent abortion medication to take at home.

A few important points to remember:

  • Whoever you go to see, they should not judge you or make you feel bad about your decision.
  • If a doctor disagrees with abortion, then they does not have to be involved in referring you. However, they should make arrangements for you to see another doctor who will be happy to arrange the appointment.
  • You do not have to have the consent of your partner although you may wish to discuss it with them.
  • You have the right to delay or cancel appointments if you wish. It’s always good to let the organisation know if you are going to cancel or delay your appointment so the time can be offered to someone else.
  • You have the right to change your mind about having the abortion at any time during the process.
  • You should be offered extra support, such as counselling if you want it, to help you make your choice.
More about making a decision about an abortion

What if I’m under 16?

If someone is under 16 but is considered able to consent to their own medical treatment, they can consent to an abortion without having to tell a parent or carer. However, a doctor will explore the benefits of involving a parent or another adult to provide support.

Young people under 16 are also allowed to access contraception without having to get permission from a parent or carer, as long as the doctor thinks they can understand and consent to this.

More about your healthcare rights

Abortion law in the UK

It’s important to know that the law is different across the British Isles.

Two doctors need to agree that continuing the pregnancy will put your physical or mental health at risk. Once they have agreed, you have until 24 weeks into the pregnancy to have an abortion.

However, in exceptional circumstances an abortion can be carried out after 24 weeks if there is a risk of grave permanent injury or a risk to the life of the pregnant person, or if the baby is diagnosed with a serious or fatal foetal anomaly.

Abortion is legally available in Northern Ireland and available locally up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

To get an abortion in Northern Ireland, you need to contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). Request a consultation online with BPAS

Abortions past 20 weeks are less easily accessible in Northern Ireland but you can access abortions in England paid for by the NHS.

Where to go for up-to-date reliable information:

You can have an abortion up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy if two doctors agree it is causing you distress.

Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks if the foetus has a severe incurable problem, or if your life is in danger.

If your pregnancy has gone past 12 weeks but is under 24 weeks, you can travel to England to have an abortion, but you will have to pay for the operation. The Abortion Support Network can help.

Abortions are legal in the Isle of Man up to 14 weeks at the request of the pregnant person and up to 24 weeks in certain circumstances. People seeking abortions over 14 weeks of gestation will be supported to access this treatment in the UK.

It is possible to access abortion up to 12 weeks and later if there is a serious health risk or there is a fatal foetal abnormality. Because of the time limit people are still travelling from Ireland to England for abortions in a range of circumstances.

The Abortion Support Network can help with the price of the abortion and can find accommodation if you need to stay overnight.


It’s a good idea to go and see a doctor as soon as possible if you know you are pregnant and have made up your mind to have an abortion.

Abortion is one of the safest healthcare procedures there is, and complications are very rare. Earlier abortions are even safer than later ones, and can be done using medication at home before 10 weeks.

More about different types of abortion

Finding Support

Brook services do not perform abortions but we do provide emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and abortion referrals, meaning we can refer and support you into other services that provide abortions.

If you would like more help or advice about abortion you can:

If you need help quickly

If you need help quickly you can contact these organisations:

  • For medical advice contact NHS by dialling 111 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • For help if you’re under 18 contact Childline on 0800 1111
  • For urgent emotional support contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90
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    Other Stuff you might find useful…


    The Abortion Process


    Making a decision about a pregnancy

    Real Stories

    Abortion: Helen’s Story


    What is abortion?


    Abortion: advice for partners




    Pregnancy test: Am I pregnant?

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