The debate about abortion

What is an abortion?

An abortion is the termination of pregnancy and is legal in England, Scotland and Wales under strict conditions. For Christians, human life is sacred and a gift from God which is to be respected and protected.

Important dates in human pregnancyDH, 2011

Important dates in human pregnancy

The Abortion Act 1967, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, allows termination of a pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner, subject to certain conditions. This applies to England, Scotland and Wales.

Under the Act, an abortion must be carried out in a hospital or specially licensed clinic.

Before a legally induced abortion can take place, two doctors must agree that:

  • the woman is less than 24 weeks pregnant, and
  • it is necessary to prevent grave damage to the woman's physical or mental health, or any of her existing children

Abortion is always legal, even after 24 weeks, if:

  • there is a serious threat to the woman’s health or life , or
  • there is substantial risk that the child will be born with physical or mental abnormalities and be seriously disabled

In cases of medical emergency, a second doctor’s agreement does not need to be sought.

The law outlined above does not apply to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.