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Abortion has been legal in the UK since 1967, but there are still laws and regulations in place that determine when you can end a pregnancy. It is important to be aware of your rights so that you can get the care that you need when you are pregnant and considering abortion.
You can have an abortion in the UK up to 23 weeks and 6 days into the pregnancy. Abortions can only be performed later than this if there is a significant risk to your life or a fatal foetal abnormality is detected.
Although the legal limit for abortions is 24 weeks, it is important to be aware that there are other limits on the type of abortion you can have. Abortion clinics often set their own time limits at less than 24 weeks because of the types of terminations that they can perform. For example, at 132 Healthwise we perform terminations up to 19 weeks.
Medical abortions (using the abortion pill) are usually only performed up to 9 weeks. After this, you can have a surgical abortion. Different surgical procedures can be used at different stages in the pregnancy, but the procedure is simpler and less likely to cause complications if you have the abortion early.
The UK abortion laws set out the reasons why terminations can be performed. You will discuss your reasons during the initial consultation at the abortion clinic. The doctor will ensure that you fit into at least one of the following categories before agreeing to perform the abortion.
You can have an abortion in the UK before 24 weeks because:
The doctor can take into account your social and financial circumstances when considering the impact that continuing with the pregnancy would have on you.