Online Archive  
Issue 5 - May 1972
Abortion is legal if performed by a registered medical practitioner in a hospital or other approved place, and if two doctors genuinely believe that:
1) the continuance of pregnancy would involve risk of the mother's life or injury to her or her existing children's physical or mental health (taking into account her actual or foreseeable environment), and that this risk would be greater than the risk involved in terminating the pregnancy, or
2) there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would suffer a serious handicap from physical or mental abnormalities.

If these conditions are not met, abortion is legal if performed by a registered medical practitioner who genuinely believes that the termination is immediately necessary to save the life or prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the woman (Abortion Act 1967). If a woman is married, her husband's consent is usually required.

Taken from the NCCL guide (Penguin Books).

Before considering an abortion you must find out if you are definitely pregnant - sounds strange but because of a late period sometimes it is automatically assumed that this is the case. To find out, first go to your family doctor who will provide you with a specimen jar which will have to be either taken or sent to a hospital (in N/cle the Royal Victoria Infirmary). National Health Service tests usually take two or three days to be confirmed. This test costs you nothing. If you do not, for some reason, wish to consult your doctor then you may consult a pregnancy testing service. The service offered is for a fee of £2.00p and takes approximately five minutes for results. Pregnancy testing services in N/cle are available from:
1) The Pregnancy Testing Lab, 16 Jesmond Road, N/cle 2, tel N/cle 810536 for an appointment.
2) Southfield Labs, Stanhope Parade, South Shields, tel S Shields 3217 for an appointment.
3) The Family Planning Association, 4 Graingerville North, N/cle 4, tel N/cle 39560.

Before taking any step in this direction you must be at least fourteen days late on your period.

If you contact your family doctor regarding a National Health abortion and he is not sympathetic, then two courses are available:
1) Change your doctor (all you need to do is register).
2) Consider having a private abortion.

However, on point 1 you must be over 16 years old to change doctors without parental permission.

If you are considering a private abortion, then unfortunately in N/cle we do not know of any place where you may have a legal private abortion, so the only alternatives open to you are:
1) Contact a local registered gynaecologist either privately or at a hospital and ask if he will consider performing a private abortion.
2) Otherwise you will have to go to either of these two addresses: (London) Pregnancy Advisory Service, 40 Margaret Street, London W1N 7SB (01 629 9575 or /76) or (Birmingham) Pregnancy Advisory Service, 109 Gough Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 15 (021 440 2570).

The cost can vary from £60 to £200.

National Health abortions can be had if you can provide your practitioner with a suitable reason, e.g. to have a baby would ruin my career, the father has left, I don't feel mature enough to keep the baby, I don't want my baby adopted, to have a baby would have serious effects upon me mentally, I don't know who my baby's father is, rape (court case).

However, if you are over three months pregnant you will have a lot of trouble getting an abortion (emergency conditions).

In this article I have briefly outlined how to go about getting an abortion. If there are any points on which you require further information then contact Muther Grumble or Release.

Backstreet abortions can lead to death, sterility or serious infection. Do-it-yourself abortions with knitting needles, boiling water, quack oral remedies, gin, hot baths etc carry the same risks and do not work, anyway. If you are under 16 you should have little trouble getting NHS abortions, although again parental permission may be required.

Andy (N/cle)

This article outlines the technicalities of getting an abortion but it should be realised that the emotional stresses are extreme, whatever course of action one takes.