UNITED KINGDOM. The Abortion Act 1967 (as amended through 2008).

Medical termination of pregnancy

1. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner of two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith:

a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or

b) that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or

c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or

d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

(2) In determining whether the continuance of a pregnancy would involve such risk of injury to health as is mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1) of this section, account may be taken of the pregnant woman's actual or reasonably foreseeable environment.

(3) Except as provided by subsection (4) of this section, any treatment for the termination of pregnancy must be carried out in a hospital vested in the Minister of Health or the Secretary of State under the National Health Service Acts, or in a place for the time being approved for the purposes of this section by the said Minister or the Secretary of State.

(3A) The power under subsection (3) of this section to approve a place includes power, in relation to treatment consisting primarily in the use of such medicines as may be specified in the approval and carried out in such manner as may be so specified, to approve a class of places.

(4) Subsection (3) of this section, and so much of subsection (1) as relates to the opinion of two registered medical practitioners, shall not apply to the termination of a pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner in a case where he is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the termination is immediately necessary to save the life or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.

Notification

2. (1) The Minister of Health in respect of England and Wales, and the Secretary of State in respect of Scotland, shall be statutory instrument make regulations to provide:

a) for requiring any such opinion as is referred to in section 1 of this Act to be certified by the practitioners or practitioner concerned in such form and at such time as may be prescribed by the regulations, and for requiring the preservation and disposal of certificates made for the purposes of the regulations;

b) for requiring any registered medical practitioner who terminates a pregnancy to give notice of the termination and such other information relating to the termination as may be so prescribed;

c) for prohibiting the disclosure, except to such persons or for such purposes as may be so prescribed, of notices given or information furnished pursuant to the regulations.

(2) The information furnished in pursuance of regulations made by virtue of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section shall be notified solely to the Chief Medical Officers of the Ministry of Health and the Scottish Home and Health Department respectively.

(3) Any person who wilfully contravenes or wilfully fails to comply with the requirements of regulations under subsection (1) of this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.

(4) Any statutory instrument made by virtue of this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

Application of Act to visiting forces etc.

3. (1) In relation to the termination of a pregnancy in a case where the following conditions are satisfied, that is to say:

a) the treatment for termination of the pregnancy was carried out in a hospital controlled by the proper authorities of a body to which this section applies; and

b) the pregnant woman had at the time of the treatment a relevant association with that body; and

c) the treatment was carried out by a registered medical practitioner or a person who at the time of the treatment was a member of that body appointed as a medical practitioner for that body by the proper authorities of that body, this Act shall have effect as if any reference in section 1 to a registered medical practitioner and to a hospital vested in a Minister under the National Health Service Acts included respectively a reference to such a person as is mentioned in paragraph (c) of this subsection and to a hospital controlled as aforesaid, and as if section 2 were omitted.

(2) The bodies to which this section applies are any force which is a visiting force within the meaning of any of the provisions of Part I of the visiting Forces Act 1952 and any headquarters within the meaning of the Schedule to the International Headquarters and Defence Organisations Act 1964; and for the purposes of this section:

a) a woman shall be treated as having a relevant association at any time with a body to which this section applies if at that time:

i) in the case of such a force as aforesaid, she had a relevant association within the meaning of the said Part I with the force; and

ii) in the case of such a headquarters as aforesaid, she was a member of the headquarters or a dependant within the meaning of the Schedule aforesaid of such a member; and

b) any reference to a member of a body to which this section applies shall be construed:

i) in the case of such a force as aforesaid, as a reference to a member of or of a civilian component of that force within the meaning of the said Part I; and

ii) in the case of such a headquarters as aforesaid, as a reference to a member of that headquarters within the meaning of the Schedule aforesaid.

Conscientious objection to participation in treatment

4. (1) Subject to subsection (2) of this section, no person shall be under any duty, whether by contract or by any statutory or other legal requirement, to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection:

Provided that in any legal proceedings the burden of proof of conscientious objection shall rest on the person claiming to rely on it.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall affect any duty to participate in treatment which is necessary to save the life or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of a pregnant woman.

(3) In any proceedings before a court in Scotland, a statement on oath by any person to the effect that he has a conscientious objection to participating in any treatment authorised by this Act shall be sufficient evidence for the purpose of discharging the burden of proof imposed upon him by subsection (1) of this section.

5. (1) No offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 shall be committed by a registered medical practitioner who terminates a pregnancy in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

(2) For the purposes of the law relating to abortion, anything done with intent to procure a woman's miscarriage (or, in the case of a woman carrying more than one foetus, her miscarriage of any foetus) is unlawfully done unless authorised by section 1 of this Act and, in the case of a woman carrying more than one foetus, anything done with intent to procure her miscarriage of any foetus is authorised by that section if:

a) the ground for termination of the pregnancy specified in subsection (1)(d) of that section applies in relation to any foetus and the thing is done for the purpose of procuring the miscarriage of the foetus, or

b) any of the other grounds for termination of the pregnancy specified in that section applies.

Interpretation

6. In this Act, the following expressions have meanings hereby assigned to them:

"the law relating to abortion" means sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, and any rule of law relating to the procurement of abortion;

"the National Health Service Acts" means the National Health Service Act 1946 to 1966 or the National Health Service (Scotland) Acts 1947 to 1966.

Short title, commencement and extent

7. (1) This Act may be cited as the Abortion Act 1967.

(2) This Act shall come into force on the expiration of the period of six months beginning with the date on which it is passed.

(3) This Act does not extent to Northern Ireland.

 

The Abortion Regulations 1991, Statutory Instrument No. 499 of 1991.
 
Citation and commencement


1.—(1)  These Regulations may be cited as the Abortion Regulations 1991, and shall come into force on 1st April 1991.

(2)  These Regulations extend to England and Wales only.
 
Interpretation

2.
In these Regulations - 

 

"the Act" means the Abortion Act 1967;

"electronic communication" has the same meaning as in section 15 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000[4];

"practitioner" means a registered medical practitioner;

"solicitor" means a person who is qualified to act as a solicitor as provided by section 1 of the Solicitors Act 1974


Certificate of opinion

 

3.  - (1) Any opinion to which section 1 of the Act refers shall be certified -

(a) in the case of a pregnancy terminated in accordance with section 1(1) of the Act, either -

(i) in the form set out in Part I of Schedule 1 to these Regulations; or

(ii) in a certificate signed and dated by both practitioners jointly or in separate certificates signed and dated by each practitioner stating: -

(a) the full name and address of each practitioner;

(b) the full name and address of the pregnant woman;

(c) whether or not each practitioner has seen or examined, or seen and examined, the pregnant woman; and

(d) that each practitioner is of the opinion formed in good faith that at least one and the same ground mentioned in paragraph (a) to (d) of section 1(1) of the Act is fulfilled.

(b) in the case of a pregnancy terminated in accordance with section 1(4) of the Act, either -

(i) in the form set out in Part II of Schedule 1 to these Regulations; or

(ii) in a certificate giving the full name and address of the practitioner and containing the full name and address of the pregnant woman and stating that the practitioner is of the opinion formed in good faith that one of the grounds mentioned in section 1(4) of the Act is fulfilled..

Notice of termination of pregnancy and information relating to the termination

 

4.—(1)  Any practitioner who terminates a pregnancy in England or Wales shall give to the appropriate Chief Medical Officer—

(a) notice of the termination, and

(b) such other information relating to the termination as is specified in Schedule 2 to these Regulations, and shall do so by sending them to him within 14 days of the termination either in a sealed envelope or by an electronic communication transmitted by an electronic communications system used solely for the transfer of confidential information to him..

(2)  The appropriate Chief Medical Officer is—

(a) where the pregnancy was terminated in England, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NS; or

(b) where the pregnancy was terminated in Wales, the Chief Medical Officer of the Welsh Office, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NQ.
 
Restriction on disclosure of information

 

5.    A notice given or any information furnished to a Chief Medical Officer in pursuance of these Regulations shall not be disclosed except that disclosure may be made—

(a) for the purposes of carrying out their duties—

(i) to an officer of the Department of Health authorised by the Chief Medical Officer of that Department, or to an officer of the Welsh Office authorised by the Chief Medical Officer of that Office, as the case may be, or

(ii) to the National Statistician duly appointed under section 5 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007(3) or an employee of the Statistics Board (established under section 1 of that Act) authorised by the National Statistician, or

 

(iii) to an individual authorised by the Chief Medical Officer who is engaged in setting up, maintaining and supporting a computer system used for the purpose of recording, processing and holding such notice or information; or;

 

(b) for the purposes of carrying out his duties in relation to offences under the Act or the law relating to abortion, to the Director of Public Prosecutions or a member of his staff authorised by him; or

(c) for the purposes of investigating whether an offence has been committed under the Act or the law relating to abortion, to a police officer not below the rank of superintendent or a person authorised by him; or

(d) pursuant to a court order, for the purposes of proceedings which have begun; or

(e) for the purposes of bona fide scientific research; or

(f) to the practitioner who terminated the pregnancy; or

(g) to a practitioner, with the consent in writing of the woman whose pregnancy was terminated; or

(h) when requested by the President of the General Medical Council for the purpose of investigating whether there has been serious professional misconduct by a practitioner, to the President of the General Medical Council or a member of its staff authorised by him or

 

(i) to the woman whose pregnancy was terminated, on her supplying to the Chief Medical Officer written details of her date of birth, the date and place of the termination and a copy of the certificate of registration of her birth certified as a true copy of the original by a solicitor or a practitioner.
 
Revocations

 

6.    The whole of the Regulations specified in Schedule 3 to these Regulations are revoked.
 

SCHEDULE 1

Regulation 3(1)

PART I

 

IN CONDIDENCE          CERTIFICATE A

 

ABORTION ACT 1967

 

Not to be destroyed within three years of the date of operation

 

Certificate to be completed before an abortion is performed under Section 1(1) of the Act


Form HSA1 (revised 1991)

 

PART II

 

SCHEDULE 1

 

IN CONFIDENCE           Certificate B

 

Not to be destroyed within three years of the date of operation

 

ABORTION ACT 1967

 

CERTIFICATE TO BE COMPLETED IN RELATION TO ABORTION PERFORMED IN EMERGENCY UNDER SECTION 1(4) OF THE ACT


 

SCHEDULE 2

Regulation 4

Information to be supplied in an Abortion Notification
     1.
Full name and address (including postcode) of the practitioner who terminated the pregnancy and the General Medical Council registration number of the practitioner.

     2. In non-emergency cases particulars of the practitioners who gave a certificate of opinion pursuant to section 1(1) of the Act and whether they saw or examined, or saw and examined the patient before giving the certificate.

     3. Patient's details - 

(a) patient's hospital or clinic number or National Health Service number or (if unavailable) patient's full name;

(b) date of birth;

(c) in the case of a patient resident in the United Kingdom, her full postcode or, if the postcode is unavailable, her address;

(d) in the case of a patient resident outside the United Kingdom, her country of residence;

(e) ethnicity (if disclosed by the patient);

(f) marital status; and

(g) parity.

     4. Name and address of place of termination.

     5. Whether the termination was paid for privately or not.

     6. Date and method of foeticide if appropriate.

     7. In a case where the termination is by surgery - 

(a) date of termination;

(b) the method of termination used; and

(c) in cases where the dates are different, the date of admission to the place of termination and the date of discharge from the place of termination.

     8. In a case where the termination is by non-surgical means - 

(a) the date of treatment with antiprogestrone;

(b) the date of treatment with prostaglandin;

(c) the date on which the termination is confirmed;

(d) in cases where the place of treatment with prostaglandin is different from the place of treatment with antiprogestrone, the name and address at which the prostaglandin was administered;

(e) details of other agents used and the date of administration; and

(f) the date of discharge if an overnight stay is required.

     9. Number of complete weeks of gestation.

     10. The ground(s) certified for terminating the pregnancy contained in the certificate of opinion given pursuant to section 1(1) of the Act together with the following additional information in the case of - 

(a) the ground specified in paragraph (a), whether or not there was a risk to the patient's mental health and if not, her main medical conditions;

(b) the grounds specified in paragraphs (b) and (c), the main medical condition(s) of the patient;

(c) the ground specified in paragraph (d), any foetal abnormalities diagnosed, together with method of diagnosis used, and any other reasons for termination.

     11. The ground(s) certified for terminating the pregnancy contained in the certificate of opinion given pursuant to section 1(4) of the Act and the patient's main medical conditions.

     12. In cases of selective termination the original number of foetuses and the number of foetuses remaining.

     13. Whether or not the patient was offered chlamydia screening.

     14. Particulars of any complications experienced by the patient up to the date of discharge.

     15. In the case of the death of the patient the date and cause of death.".

SCHEDULE 3

Regulation 6

REGULATIONS REVOKED

 

Column 1

Column 2

Regulations revoked

References

The Abortion Regulations 1968

S.I. 1968/390

The Abortion (Amendment) Regulations 1969

S.I. 1969/636

The Abortion (Amendment) Regulations 1976

S.I. 1976/15

The Abortion (Amendment) Regulations 1980

S.I. 1980/1724