Accessing an abortion

An abortion (also known as a termination) is the medical process of ending a pregnancy.

An abortion is different from a miscarriage, which is the loss of your baby before 24 weeks, without medical intervention.

When can an abortion be carried out

Your options depend on how many weeks pregnant you are. You can have an abortion if you’re less than 24 weeks pregnant. In certain rare circumstances, you may be offered a later abortion.

If you’re considering an abortion you should book an appointment at your clinic as soon as you can. The risks to your health from having an abortion are low. But these risks get a bit higher if you’ve an abortion later in your pregnancy.

You’ll need at least 1 assessment appointment before having the procedure. This means there will be some time to think about your decision after booking your appointment. You can also change your mind after booking your appointment. You should take enough time to consider all your options to be as comfortable as possible with your decision.

Before deciding, you may wish to discuss your situation with healthcare professionals like your local sexual and reproductive health service. You may also want to speak with your family members or a partner.

The final decision about having an abortion is yours. You should not be pressured into making that decision.

If you decide to have an abortion, you’ve the right for this to remain confidential (unless staff have immediate concerns about your safety or protection).

Emotional support

Considering and/or having an abortion can cause a wide range of emotions. You may experience many different feelings. Some people feel relieved, others feel sad or guilty, and many feel a combination of these. Having some mixed feelings is normal.

If you need to discuss how you’re feeling, you can ask your local health board abortion service to refer you for counselling. You can do this before or after your abortion. You can also contact a counselling service yourself.

Find NHS counselling services near you

Confidentiality

As an NHS patient you’ve the right to confidentiality. This means you’ve a right to:

  • have your information stored securely
  • access your health information
  • know how the NHS uses your information
  • know how the NHS shares your information
  • object to the NHS using your information

Find out more about confidentiality in NHS Scotland

NHS abortions

You can seek an abortion directly from your local health board abortion service. There’s no need to contact your GP first.

Contact your local health board abortion service for an appointment. Appointment arrangements may vary depending on where you live.

Health board contact details
NHS health boardContact and appointment booking information
Ayrshire and ArranTo make an appointment, phone 01563 827025. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm.

Pregnancy and abortions – Sexual Health Ayrshire: SHAYR
BordersTo contact the Termination of Pregnancy clinic directly, phone 01896 826729. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

To discuss your circumstances with a medical professional, phone 01896 663700. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.

Termination of pregnancy (TOP) | Borders Sexual Health
Dumfries and GallowayTo discuss your options and access counselling, phone 0345 702 3687. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.

You can self-refer directly by phoning Cresswell Maternity Hospital on 01387 241200. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm. Outside of these hours you can leave a message and someone will be in contact.

abortion (sexualhealthdg.co.uk)
FifePhone 01592 64 33 55 and enter extension 25445 when asked. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 12pm to 4pm.

NHS Fife (nhsfife.org)
Forth ValleyTo contact the sexual health service, phone 01324 673555. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 3.30pm.

NHS Forth Valley – Abortion
GrampianTo contact the sexual health clinic main reception, phone 0345 337 9900. Lines are open Monday-Thursday, 8.30am-4.30pm, and Friday, 8.30am-3.30pm.

To contact Aberdeen unplanned pregnancy services directly, phone 01224 655535. Lines are open Monday-Friday, 9am-2pm.

Grampian Sexual Health Services (nhsgrampian.org)
Greater Glasgow and ClydeFor a telephone consultation and advice, phone 0141 211 8620.

Abortion (sandyford.scot)
HighlandTo contact the service, phone 01463705667 and select option 2. Lines are open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.

Highland Sexual Health
LanarkshireTo self-refer to the service, phone 01698 366926. The lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.

Termination (lanarkshiresexualhealth.org)
LothianTo self-refer to the Lothian Abortion Referral Service (LARS), phone 0131 537 1070. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.

Lothian Abortion Referral Service (nhslothian.scot)
OrkneyAvailable to Orkney residents only. To make an appointment, phone 01856 888 917. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Nordhaven Clinic – Pregnancy
ShetlandTo contact the Maternity department, phone 01595 743012.

NHS Shetland: Maternity Department (scot.nhs.uk)
TaysideTo self-refer for an abortion, please phone 01382 496 762. If your call is not answered, please leave a message and someone will get back to you.

http://www.sexualhealthtayside.org/
Western IslesFor advice, phone 01851 708305 or 01851 708300. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. In some cases, you may need to be referred to the mainland (Inverness or Glasgow) for an appointment.

Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) Western Isles – Cool2Talk

Assessment appointment

When you’re referred for abortion, you’ll be asked to attend an assessment appointment.

This is often done by phone, but you may be asked to attend your local health board abortion service in person. If you prefer, you can request to attend an in-person appointment.

During the assessment appointment you’ll be asked for your medical history. This is so the medical professional can make sure the type of abortion you’re offered is suitable for you.

You’ll also be:

  • offered the opportunity to talk about your situation
  • told about the different methods of abortion suitable for you
  • told about the risks of different types of abortion
  • asked how many weeks pregnant you are
  • given information and advice about which methods of contraception you could use after the abortion

Read more about the different types of abortion

It’s important to be as accurate as possible when working out how many weeks pregnant you are. This is because there are higher risks to your health if you’ve an abortion at home when over 12 weeks pregnant.

How to work out how many weeks pregnant you are

To work out how many weeks pregnant you are, you should count the weeks from the first day of your last period.

If you’re unsure of this date, it’s important to have an ultrasound scan to confirm how many weeks pregnant you are.

Pre-treatment tests

Depending on your circumstances, the medical professional assessing you may request an ultrasound if:

  • you’re uncertain about how many weeks pregnant you are
  • you’ve any symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, like pain or bleeding

You can ask to have an ultrasound scan if you prefer.

The clinician may also ask to do some other tests. These might include:

  • blood tests to check your blood group and for anaemia
  • a test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Northern Ireland residents coming to Scotland for an abortion

Abortion services are now available from the five Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland.

Read more about abortion services in Northern Ireland

If you are resident in Northern Ireland and are looking for advice on abortion care, you must contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) which offers advice, counselling and access to abortion services:

Last updated:
29 February 2024

Other health sites

Search for sexual health clinics