Later term abortion

This is the name given to a type of abortion which is performed after the 20th week of pregnancy.

In the UK it is legal to have an abortion up to your 24th week of pregnancy. However, most abortions are carried out before then.

Around 90% of abortions are performed before the 13th week of pregnancy.

Around 98% of abortions are performed before the 20th week of pregnancy.

(Source: NHS Choices: Abortion: 4.6.2010)

Can an abortion be performed after 24 weeks?

Yes it can but only in extreme circumstances. These include a life threatening risk to the mother’s or baby’s health or long term complications for the baby, e.g. severe disability.

It is preferable to have an abortion at an earlier stage in your pregnancy rather than a later stage as it is both easier and safer to perform. But, your reasons for an abortion and the stage of your pregnancy will be discussed during your consultation with your GP or clinic.

The pros and cons of a late term abortion will be mentioned to you with the aim of enabling you to make the right decision for you.

Late term abortions are rare but can be carried out if the situation warrants it. The procedure for a late abortion is discussed in greater detail in our methods of abortion section.

Is a late term abortion more controversial?

Yes it is. The main reason for this is that it occurs at a later stage in the pregnancy when the foetus is fully developed and easier to see.

Reasons for a late term abortion

There are several reasons why a women chooses to have a late term abortion. Apart from the serious or life threatening health risks, other reasons include:

  • Being afraid or unwilling to tell partner about pregnancy
  • Being afraid or unable to tell parents, relatives or friends about pregnancy.
  • Miscalculated the stage of her pregnancy
  • Spent a long time deciding whether to have an abortion
  • Health problem with the foetus diagnosed at a late stage in her pregnancy.
  • Unsure about how to arrange to have an abortion
  • Not realising the importance of knowing what stage she is at during her pregnancy.
  • Felt under pressure not to undergo an abortion
  • Changed her mind at a late stage

The health risks to either the mother or baby are usually the reasons for a late term abortion.

How do you know what stage your pregnancy is at?

This is usually calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period but an ultrasound scan may be used to obtain an exact figure.

Knowing what stage your pregnancy is at will influence your decision to have an abortion, and what type. The decision to have an abortion is not an easy one especially as it is considered a controversial subject.

But, what is the history behind abortion? Why is it so controversial?

Find out more in the following section.

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