NHS abortion

If you have decided to have an abortion then the next step is to arrange this via your local family planning clinic or your GP. He or she will ask you about your reasons for wanting an abortion: he/she will also see if they match the criteria set by the 1967 Abortion Act.

Find out more about the Abortion Act in our reasons for abortion section.

If your GP feels that you meet these reasons then he/she will refer you to a hospital or specialised clinic.

If they both agree that you meet the criteria of the Abortion Act then they will sign the form before putting you on a waiting list. You can expect a two to four week wait for an abortion on an NHS waiting list.

The aim is to ensure that you undergo an abortion within three weeks of your first consultation with your GP.

If the NHS is unable to help then they may agree to fund your treatment at a private clinic.

What happens if your GP is unable or unwilling to refer you for an abortion?

Your GP is not bound by law to refer you for an abortion but he/she must refer you to another GP who is willing to do so. There are GP’s who have strong moral or religious objections to abortion and for these reasons, are unable to agree to an abortion.

But, this does not mean that they will not help you. If your GP is against abortion then he/she must refer you to a colleague who is able to help you.


Don’t worry, doctor-patient confidentiality will be observed and details of your case will not be revealed to anyone. This also applies to patients under 16 who may not want their parents to know that they have had an abortion.

The confidentiality rule also applies to private abortion clinics. They will keep details of your medical history private which also includes your abortion.

Can you get an abortion without your GP knowing about it?

It is possible to have an abortion without your GP’s knowledge. Family planning clinics can enable you to access NHS abortion services and this can be done without your GP ever knowing about it.

You have the option of informing your GP after your abortion so that he/she can update your medical records. But this is entirely up to you.

As regards the clinic or hospital where the abortion will take place; it does not have to be the nearest hospital or clinic to where you live. If you would prefer to attend somewhere where there is little chance of you seeing someone you know then ask to do so.

If you prefer not to wait then consider having a private abortion. The costs of that plus any other information is discussed in greater detail in the next section.

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