Why women present for abortions after 20 weeks

British Advisory Pregnancy Service

British Pregnancy Advisory Service
Jul 2017

Between July and October 2015 BPAS clinics and consultation centres in England, Wales and Scotland asked women presenting over 20 weeks’ gestation if they would participate in a study recording their reasons for needing an abortion. Some women were too distressed to take part, some were over the legal time limit and some did not want their story shared. Twenty eight women ultimately consented to their situation being documented by staff for publication. There is of course no single reason why women have later abortions; nevertheless, several key themes emerged. Overwhelmingly, women did not need an abortion at a later gestation because of an inability to access abortion services or secure an appointment earlier, as has been illustrated by previous research. Their reasons for needing a later abortion highlight the intricacies of avoiding pregnancy, identifying pregnancy and pregnancy decisionmaking. They are all examples of the complex nature of women’s lives today, and the themes which emerged will be explored in the following report. Names have been changed to protect identities.