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Termination of Pregnancy/Abortion

Legal abortion is a safe way of ending a pregnancy. This is a decision you may make because you do not want to be pregnant and have a baby at this time.

Abortion is legal in Scotland regardless of your age.

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When do I need to make up my mind?

It is important not to delay making your decision. Legal abortion is safer and easier the earlier it is done in pregnancy. The majority of abortions are carried out before 13 weeks of pregnancy, and most of the rest are carried out before 20 weeks. Abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy is not common, but is legal in certain circumstances (for example, if it is less likely to cause harm to a woman's physical or mental health than continuing with the pregnancy or there is a substantial risk of physical or mental disability if the baby was born).

It is important to get advice as soon as possible, because it can take up to a month before the abortion is carried out.

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Will anyone else be told about my abortion?

Any woman who has an abortion, whatever age she is, has a right for that information to remain confidential. This means that information cannot be shared with anyone else without your agreement. If you have any worries about confidentiality discuss this with the doctor or nurse you speak to about your abortion.

  • Your GP does not need to know, although many abortion services like to send a letter to your GP. This should only be done with your permission.
  • Your partner, or the father of the child, does not have to know about the abortion, and he has no legal rights to make a decision about whether or not you continue with the pregnancy. You can go ahead with an abortion without your partner’s knowledge or agreement.
  • If you are under 16 or have learning disabilities, you can have an abortion without telling your parents or carers. The doctors will encourage you to involve your parents or another supportive adult, but if you choose not to, you can still have an abortion if the doctors believe that you fully understand what is involved and it is in your best interests.

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For more information please have a look at NHS Orkney's Termination of Pregnancy Leaflet

 
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