CMO clarifies time limit for termination of pregnancy performed under Grounds C and D

Posted 7 August 2018

Date: 07 Aug 2018

Type: Sexual and Reproductive Health News

In late July, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) wrote to healthcare professionals to clarify the time limit for abortions performed under Grounds C and D of the Abortion Act 1967. The Act sets out that abortion can be legally performed under these Grounds where “the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week”.

The Department of Health and Social Care, following legal advice, has confirmed that this means the time limit for abortion under these grounds equates to a pregnancy not exceeding 23 weeks and 6 days. The taking of the second abortion drug (misoprostol) or surgical evacuation forms part of the treatment for abortion and therefore all elements of treatment must be completed by 23 weeks and 6 days.

To remove any ambiguity, HSA4 forms and other relevant documentation, including the Required Standard Operating Procedures for independent sector providers, will be amended to clearly state that abortion under Grounds C or D can legally be performed up to and including 23 weeks and 6 days.

You can read the CMO letter here.