Every year, many thousands of couples and single women face an unplanned pregnancy. At bpas, we provide abortions for over 55,000 women each year. Naturally, we make every effort to involve partners in the process, and aim to keep men fully informed about what will happen if your partner decides to have an abortion.
bpas provides abortions for women who wish to terminate their pregnancy. Legally, it is the woman who must make the final decision about whether or not to have an abortion. However, if you and your partner are considering this option, there is a lot you can do to help her.
Firstly, let her talk about it if she wants to, and make sure she is getting appropriate and supportive advice. A decision to have an abortion is not always an easy one.
Secondly, if or when your wife or partner does decide to have an abortion, encourage her to get advice as soon as possible. There are limits (24 weeks into pregnancy) to when a woman can get an abortion in the UK. And the sooner the abortion is performed, the less complicated the procedure.
Finally, after the abortion, your partner may feel like talking about it. She may not. It is up to you to be as supportive and caring as possible, so that the two of you can get on with your lives and consider the future, including safe contraceptive options.
Is abortion legal in Britain?
Abortion is legal in Britain if two doctors agree that certain conditions are met. These include careful consideration of the effect the continuing pregnancy may have on the mental and physical health of the woman.
Why do women decide to have an abortion?
About one in every three women have an abortion at some time in their lives. The reasons they are faced with the decision of whether or not to have an abortion will vary. Their regular method of contraception may have failed. They may have not realised that they could still become pregnant. Or they may not have been using adequate protection against pregnancy.
Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, women need to consider their options. They may decide to go ahead with the pregnancy, unplanned as it may have been. But they may feel that having a child may affect their existing family, or their relationship, or their current professional and personal life. The decision to have an abortion is not an easy one for any woman. But the option is there to ensure that women can protect themselves from an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, and continue to plan how, when and if they have children.
Is there an age limit to how young women can be to have an abortion?
bpas will not perform abortions on women under the age of 12.
Does she have to tell anyone about it?
Confidentiality means that what a woman says to bpas staff stays private. If she wants an abortion, she will have an opportunity to talk to bpas staff to make sure that she is fully aware of what is involved. If she is sure that it’s what she wants to do and she understands everything that will happen, she can agree to an abortion by herself. She won’t need to tell anyone else – not even her GP or school. Practically, she may or may not want to inform her family or friends about having an abortion. And if you are her partner, you should respect that choice.
All staff at bpas will respect confidentiality and will not give anyone else this information about her, even if she is under the age of 16, unless she agrees to it. The only time we would need to tell someone else would be if we thought that she was in serious danger. In that case, we would always try to tell her what we were going to do first.
How does the actual process of getting an abortion work? And is it safe?
This will depend on where the woman chooses to have an abortion. If she chooses bpas, she will usually need to seek a consultation at a bpas centre. This consultation will include a full medical examination from a trained health care professional. If she decides to go ahead with the abortion, she will need to book a further appointment for treatment. You are welcome to accompany her to either or both of these appointments if she wants you there, although time will be needed with her alone for consultation and treatment.
Actual methods of abortion vary depending on how pregnant the woman may be, Abortion is a very safe and straightforward procedure in the early weeks of pregnancy. A doctor or nurse will explain exactly how the procedure works, and any possible complications or side effects with the woman.
A more detailed description of abortion procedures is available here.
How much will it cost?
In many cases the cost of an abortion will be paid by the NHS through a contract with the local Primary Care Trust (PCT), call the bpas Booking Centre on 08457 304030 for more information.
If you wich to pay for the procedure, the bpas price list can be found here.
What are the after effects of abortion?
bpas clients will be given a course of antibiotics to reduce any risk of infection after the abortion. It is usual for some women to experience some bleeding several days after the abortion. Some women find that their hormonal levels change quite dramatically after their abortion, which may result in them feeling quite low for a few days after the treatment.
Depending on the individual, women may experience a sense of loss or relief or confusion after an abortion. As a partner or friend or member of her family, you are best placed to see how a woman is feeling and to give her any support and reassurance that she may need or ask for.
Does my partner need counselling?
If your partner is having difficulty coming to terms with an abortion, bpas offers a confidential counselling service.
Do women feel differently about having sex after an abortion?
A woman has usually had an abortion because contraception has failed, or because she did not know about suitable contraceptive methods available to her. This means she could well feel insecure about getting pregnant again. You should discuss this with her, and seek advice from your family planning advisor. bpas provides a full contraceptive advice service for women after abortion.
Women should certainly avoid vaginal sex for two weeks after the abortion. And if you can’t wait, use a condom to avoid any infection.
It is not the same since she had the abortion. What is wrong?
Men may also feel excluded from the abortion decision and process because the final decision to have an abortion is always made by the woman. But you will feel more involved if you ask your partner how she would like to be supported through the process, and respect her requests and wishes.
No-one pretends that the decision to have an abortion is easy. And some couples may disagree about whether or not a woman should have an abortion. If you feel that the abortion has affected your relationship in any way, you may like to seek out advice from an organisation such as Relate who specialise in couple counselling and encouraging couples to communicate with each other about their feelings and concerns.