Questions About Abortion

Must my boyfriend or partner give his permission?

No. Your partner’s permission is not required for you to get an abortion. Whilst many women want the involvement and support of their partners, for others this is not necessary or appropriate.

Must my parents give their permission?

Women under 16 may have an abortion, without parental involvement, if the doctor believes the young woman is mature enough to consent to the procedure she is requesting.   Medical staff use the Fraser Guidelines to assess competency.

In most cases however, young women do decide to involve a parent or other responsible adult. Whilst many parents are initially shocked or upset for their daughter, most do offer their support.

What sort of people have abortions?

Women of all ages and from all backgrounds access abortion, for a wide and complex range of reasons. Abortion is a common medical procedure - over 1 in 4 women by the age of 45 will decide to end a pregnancy.

How does an abortion take place?

Different abortion methods are used depending on the stage of the pregnancy. You can discuss questions with the shine doctor or nurse.   The earlier you seek help the more straightforward the procedures are.  Find out more about abortion methods.

What is the abortion pill?

The abortion pill is a form of abortion available to women who are under 9 weeks pregnant. The woman will be given a pill to swallow and 36 to 48 hours later a tablet will be placed in her vagina. These two drugs will end most early pregnancies within the following four hours. A minimum of 2 visits to a hospital or clinic are involved.

After the abortion?

How you feel after an abortion will depend on the circumstances of your abortion, the reasons for having it and on how comfortable you feel about your decision. You may feel relieved or sad, or a mixture of both.

After your abortion you should be offered:

  • written information that tells you what you are likely to experience
  • a 24-hour telephone helpline number that you can ring if you develop pain, bleeding or a high temperature
  • the chance to discuss contraception and obtain supplies if you need them
  • a follow-up appointment within two weeks of your abortion (this is particularly important if you have an early medical abortion)
  • further counselling if you experience continuing distress (this happens to a minority of women and is usually related to personal circumstances)

You may be given antibiotics after an abortion. It is important that you follow carefully any advice to complete a course of medication after an abortion.

Is abortion safe? Can it make me infertile?

There is very little risk associated with abortion, particularly in early pregnancy. The commonest risk is from infection after the procedure, but this can be reduced by following the instructions given by medical staff. Having an abortion should not affect a woman's fertility.

Can I arrange the abortion myself?

Whichever way you access abortion, you will need two doctors’ signatures approving the procedure. If you do not want to access abortion through the NHS, you can go directly to an independent provider, though you will have to pay for it.

In the UK (except for Northern Ireland) a woman can have an abortion if two doctors agree that her need for abortion matches specific criteria laid down in law.  Different reasons for the abortion are specified for earlier and later abortions.

Can a doctor refuse to refer for an abortion?

Some doctors will not refer women for abortions or perform abortion procedures. The law says that doctors and nurses do not have to be involved in abortion procedures if they have a conscientious objection to abortion.

What if I change my mind?

You can change your mind right up to the point of starting the procedure.

Can I keep it secret?

You might be tempted to keep the pregnancy secret while you pluck up the courage to talk to your parents or partner, but it is important to get good medical care and advice from early on in pregnancy. As soon as possible, talk to a professional who can help you and will keep your conversation confidential

You might want to continue with the pregnancy against the wishes of your family or partner. If you feel that you are at risk of harm within the home because of your decision, you need to contact someone who can help, and you can also contact shine or visit us at one of our clinics.

Childline, tel: 0800 1111
Connexions tel: 080 800 13 2 19

Should you decide to end the pregnancy, the decision to have an abortion is a matter between you and your healthcare team.  All information and treatment is confidential. This means that information about you cannot be shared with anyone else without your agreement.

The hospital or clinic where you have an abortion is not required to inform your doctor, but many abortion services do this so that the doctor can provide appropriate care afterwards. They should only do this with your consent. If you do not want your doctor to know, you should tell the staff providing your abortion care.