UK Abortion Law

What is the UK law on Abortion?   

Abortion is the medical termination of a pregnancy.  Current UK abortion law was clarified in the 1967 Abortion Act which remains the governing regulation.   The Act legalizes abortion, but only under specific regulations and under certain circumstances.  It was seen as the one of the most liberal abortion laws of its time.  Previously, abortion laws had been extremely strict. The Ellenborough Act 1803 for example carried the death penalty for an abortion taken place after 16-20 weeks when it was believed the soul entered the Foetus.

1967 Abortion Act

The act states that a termination may be carried out under the following circumstances: 

  • It is undergone in a specialized clinic by a ‘registered medical practitioner.’

  • Two doctors confirm the patients need for an abortion.  The need must fit under the following legal criteria:

  • The risk of continuing the pregnancy to the life of the pregnant woman is larger than the risk of terminating it

  • The permanent physical or mental state of the pregnant woman would be endangered if the pregnancy were not terminated

  • Injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman would be more likely with the continuation of the pregnancy.

  • Injury to the physical or mental health of any other children of the family would be more likely with the continuation of the pregnancy. 

  • Risk that the child would be born with a serious handicap. 

  • In an emergency to save the life of the woman or to prevent physical or mental injury of her. 

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For more information on:

  • The Human Fertilization and Embryology Act (HFEA) 1990
  • Consent
  • Conscientious objectors
  • Jurisdiction