Unplanned Pregnancy

Pregnant and unsure what to do?

Having an unintended pregnancy can be a frightening time, but there is support available. It is important to ensure you have an accurate pregnancy test- you can get this done through your GP, Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinics (formerly Family Planning Clinics), Integrated Sexual Health Clinics (formerly GUM Clinics) or some chemists.

Your options are:

To continue with the pregnancy and keep your baby
To continue with the pregnancy and have the baby adopted
To have a termination of pregnancy (abortion)

You will need to carefully consider your options, and it often helps to talk this through with someone- whether that is your family, boyfriend/ partner or a friend.

If you are at school and unsure of who to talk to, you may find the school nurse or public health nurse would be a good first contact. Your GP and Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinics (formerly Family Planning Clinics) will also be able to talk to you about your options and refer you to the appropriate service.

Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) Services

If you decide you cannot continue with the pregnancy it is important to get advice quickly. Your GP, local Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic (formerly Family Planning Clinic) or Young Person’s Service will be able to discuss this with you and refer you to a hospital based clinic. To make an appointment in the Sexual Health Service, call our appointment line on 0300 303 0251 (Line open Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.)

When you attend this clinic you will -

  • see a nurse and a doctor
  • have an ultrasound scan- to tell how many weeks pregnant you are
  • discuss the different methods of termination of pregnancy and decide which method is safest for you
  • have a blood test taken- to check your blood group and that you are not anaemic
  • be offered screening for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis
  • talk about what method of contraception you want to use after the termination of pregnancy

This appointment can take 1-2 hours.

Before you leave the clinic you will have information on the procedure, the dates of the procedure and any special instructions.

Please be aware that you are not committing yourself to any procedure by coming to this clinic. You will be able to talk to the nurses and doctor about your decision; we understand that having an unintended pregnancy can be a very difficult and often emotional time- we want to ensure that you make the right decision for you at this point in your life. NHS Lothian have developed a short film providing more information about the procedure and can be viewed here;



Helping you to prevent an unintended pregnancy in the future is an important part of the service we offer.

Most methods of contraception can be started immediately or very soon after a termination of pregnancy.

Where possible we will provide you with the method you choose on the day of your procedure- along with written and verbal information. If we can’t provide the method immediately we will ask you to return to our unit in 1-2 weeks for this.

What does a termination (abortion) involve?

A termination is a way of ending an unwanted pregnancy either using medicines (drugs) or a surgical procedure.

Early Medical Termination (up to 10 weeks of pregnancy)

This is the safest and most effective method for women who are less than 9 weeks pregnant.

  • You will need to attend the unit on 2 separate days
  • The first visit will be to take a tablet and stay for about an hour
  • On the second visit (48 hours later) you will be given tablets internally- these help the womb to expel the pregnancy. This usually happens within 4-6 hours
  • You can have someone with you throughout the procedure if you wish
  • We may ask you to return for a follow up appointment after 3 weeks, you MUST agree to attend if we have not seen evidence of the pregnancy being passed while you are in our unit

Medical Termination after 10 weeks of pregnancy

This is a possible choice at any stage of pregnancy, although the procedure can take longer if you are between 10-14 weeks pregnant.

  • In Lanarkshire we offer medical termination up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The medication is the same as for early medical termination (see above), but on the second visit repeat doses of the internal tablets will be required every 3 hours until the pregnancy is passed
  • You will be nursed in a single room
  • You can have someone with you throughout the procedure if you wish
  • Different methods of pain relief will be available
  • Most women having this procedure will be allowed home later the same day, although some do have to stay in hospital overnight

Suction Termination from 7- under 14 weeks of pregnancy

This is a surgical procedure carried out under General Anaesthetic.

  • You will be given a date to come into hospital, and given details of when to stop eating and drinking prior to having the anaesthetic
  • You should be well enough to go home about 2-3 hours after the procedure
  • You must have someone to take you home after the procedure.

Abortion and the Law

In Great Britain (Scotland, England and Wales) the law (Abortion Act 1967, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990) allows a woman to have an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, if two doctors agree that it is less likely to cause harm to her physical or mental health than continuing with the pregnancy.

  • Most abortions (80-90%) are carried out before 13 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Only about 1% are carried out after 20 weeks.

Within Lanarkshire we can offer abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, women who are over 20 weeks are referred to BPAS. These very late abortions require the medical team to have highly specialized skills and are usually only carried out in London.

A doctor or nurse has the right to refuse to take part in abortion if they do not believe in abortion. However, they should always refer you on to another doctor or nurse who will help. The General Medical Council guidance for doctors makes it clear that a doctor’s ‘personal beliefs’ should not affect patient care. There is similar guidance provided by the Nursing and Midwifery Council for nurses, and by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain for pharmacists.

If your doctor is not being helpful, try to see another doctor or nurse at your general practice or visit your local family planning or sexual health clinic.

The decision to have an abortion is a matter between you and your healthcare team. All information and treatment is confidential whatever your age. This means that information cannot be shared with anyone else without your agreement, unless we have serious concerns about your immediate safety.

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