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Abortion- how far gone can you have one?

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sair5412 | 21:39 Sun 09th Jul 2006 | Body & Soul
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Before I start, I realise that this may be a very sensitive subject for some people and I hope I do not offend or upset anyone. I have just heard that a girl I know had an abortion when she was 5 months pregnant. I was told that at first no-one would do this for her so her parents took her to somewhere in London where she had to give birth to the baby but it was not born alive. I am very shocked at this and quite distressed if I am honest. How long can you leave it and where would she have had this done? Is it legal? Is she safe? I just don't know what to think and I am finding it quite hard to take in. I understand people have their own reasons for abortion and I am not starting a debate on pro or anti abortion, I just wonder if anyone has heard of anything like this before?

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5 months???????? Bloody hell. Never heard of that before. I thought 4 months was the legal maximum.
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It does vary from one health authority to the next. An abortion is legal in the UK up to 24 weeks, however if their is substantial rick to the women or the foetus there is no time limit. I believe late terminations of pregnancy, start with stopping the babies heart via an injection and then the woman is given drugs to induce a labour. Obviously this a very traumatic experience for the lady and would not be a decision that has been taken lightly, generally some sort of abnormality with the child or severe health problems to the lady. I do know of a girl who had an abortion at 20 weeks privately because she was 14, she had felt to scared to tell her dad and her mum had just died of cancer (when she was pregnant), so again things have to be taken case by case.
In Somerset you can have a termination up to 15 weeks. Then after, I think there has to be serious reasons for you needing to have one.
24 weeks is the legal limit - that is very nearly 6 months.

http://www.brook.org.uk/content/M2_5_abortion. asp
Part 1 : In the UK , an abortion is legal up until the 24th week of pregnancy - unless it can be proved that continuation of the pregnancy would pose a serious risk to the mother's health or mental well being. Another exception would be if the baby would have no 'quality' of life ie severe handicap. I must admit that the notion of a late pregnancy deeply disturbs me if it is purely on the grounds that the mother just simply does not want her baby. I do not agree with abortion and am very pro life but understand that sometimes there are circumstances which make it difficult for a lot of women to proceed with their pregnancy. Rape and severe handicap would be too much for most women to cope with for example. Having said that , having stupidly watched a programme on late abortion when I was six months pregnant with my first child (and wishing I hadn't) I broke down and cried when I realised HOW the abortion was performed. I will spare you the gory details but suffice to say , it wasn't pleasant. Yes , the mother has to give birth in answer to your question and I will leave it at that regarding the details.

Part 2 :
The programme which I watched wasn't about babies with handicaps - simply that the 'mothers' did not want their baby due to a variety of reasons :age , career , interfering with plans for university etc. The focus of this programme was the ethical dilemma which doctors face regarding the cut off point. Abortion is legal up until 24 weeks - the same age that babies are classed as 'viable'. So on one hand doctors are killing babies and on the other , saving them. 24 weeks is the same as six months pregnant. At this stage it is a foetus - not an embryo. The foetus can see , hear , kick - which can be felt by the 'mother' and they have a chance of survival. That's why I feel that it is so damn heartbreaking when his/her little life is over before it begins - especially when there are so many childless couples aching to parents and who could give them a loving home. I'm trying not to rant but it's a subject which I feel very passionate about. How could a woman NOT possibly know that she does not want her baby until 24 weeks into pregnancy ? Utter madness !
It is extremely rare that this would happen. Most health authorities impose a 12 - 15 week limit on these cases (where a mistake has been made with first step contraception and the baby is not wanted). I know that until very recently here you could not get your scan sexed because they feared that couples from cultures where it was favourable to have a boy not a girl would ask for abortions on these grounds.
I think we need to tackle the children in schools and get safe sex drummed into them. We have an 18 yr old lad at work who says he never uses a condom and it revolts me that he would put himself and his numerous conquests at such risk. As a child of the 80s (I am 27) we had safe sex drummed into us, i grew up terrified of HIV and unwanted pregnancy.
Also would like to add that if they didnt put the most extreme horrific cases in the press and on the tv, it would not make "good" viewing now would it?? Noone is going to gasp at a woman who is 23 weeks pregnant and found out at her 20 week scan which got delayed for 2 weeks that her baby has no brain, and would not survive outside the womb and decided to have a termination.

http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/00000000 54E2.htm

I think this is a very good article and points that I think should be highlighted are that at 24 weeks a fetus does not have a life, medicine can intervene to keep that fetus alive. Also 40 % of women by the age of 45 have had an abortion in the first trimester whereas midtrimester abortions are very rare so we cannot empathise with them.

Goodsoulette - A foetus CAN have a quality of life if born at 24 weeks. There is no guarantee of a healthy baby in ANY pregnancy and at 24 weeks although the foetus is 'viable' there is no guarantee that they will survive but nevertheless , it is important to remember that they CAN have the possibilty of a quality or at least a promise of life. To reiterate a point which I made earlier , at 24 weeks a foetus can hear , see and can kick independantly. Putting aside the notion of birth defects and focusing solely on so called 'social abortions' - which without being in possession of all of the facts but reading between the lines on this post (as no suggestion was made of birth defects) - how can a 'mother' not know before 24 weeks that she does not wish to continue with her pregnancy ? I can understand apprehensions of a mother being told that her baby may have no 'quality' of life due to severe birth defects and she may wish to abort on the information given but as there was no mention of this in the origianl question , I focused mainly. on social abortions.

The programme which I watched - as I mentioned - was about the ethical dilemma faced by doctors who had to kill perfectly healthy babies whilst saving viable tots. It was gut-wrenching for them to have to kill a healthy baby just because the 'mother' had changed her mind.

I think that it is important to bear in mind that a foetus CAN have a life if the pregnancy is not abruptly halted and therefore would not neccesarilly NEED medical intervention. Furthermore , the programme which I watched was geared around social abortions - not birth defects. So that in my mind changes things quite dramatically. This I fail to comprehend.
I never said it wasnt viable, I am just reiterating that a baby born at that stage would not live without medical intervention.
Cases for "social" abortions would be where a previously wanted pregnancy became unwanted because the womans partner left her for another woman. Thus leaving the woman feeling violated by her pregnancy. Or say her husband/partner had been found guilty of a hideous crime, bearing in mind only 1 % of abortions occur after 19 weeks I would have thought these cases are all very probable. Would it be best to let woman continue with preganacy develop severe post natal depression and then murder her own child, I dont know.
At no point did I mention quality of life, I purely pointed out that it would not survive.
Part 1 : With all due respect goodsoulette , I think that you are submising a little about what would happen if a woman's relationship crumbled. Women ARE capable of surviving without men and indeed many a woman has found herself in this situation but does not necessarily develop post natal depression and go on to harbour murderous thoughts towards her child. Indeed , many women with postnatal depression recover with support and sometimes medication and yet feel no grievance towards her child. I think that you are in danger of confusing post-natal depression with post-partum depression - which is something different altogether. This is a severe form of post-natal depression and is very rare.
Part 2 :
None of the women in the programme which I watched were in the position you say and I have to say that I find theose sort of circumstances quite rare as I just do not see why a woman would terminate her pregnancy JUST because a man left her. There are a lot of good single mothers out there who have braved it alone and who would beg to differ with that statement. That's like saying that women are inadequate human beings who can not function without a man by their side. Yes , it would be all rosy and ideal if all babies were born to a home with mummy and daddy to play happy families but life isn't always like that. Why should a child be denied a right to life because daddy played the field or to use your other example , commited a hideous crime ? Should the sins of the father be revisited on the son ? I am not saying that women should not have the right to abort but I fail to see why when a baby can be saved at 24 weeks , a termination can be legal up until this point. I think that your argument for social abortions is flimsy and I hope that through time the limit is significnatly reduced to say 12 weeks - unless of course there are medical complications , threat to mother's life , defects etc. A woman does NOT need 24 weeks to make up her mind and in the case of the women on the programme which I watched , interferance with career plans , uni plans etc are not good enough reasons. Was there career not there at the 12 week mark ?
I mentioned 'quality of life' to concur with the point which you made about a foetus not having a life at 24 weeks - the possibility is there if the pregnancy is not abruptly ended and it is irrelevant whether or not medical assistance is required. Is a lethal injection to the baby's heart and bit by bit removal a preferable alternative ?
SORRY FOR HIJACKING SAIR....
I have 2 children, I have also had 2 abortions.
1st pregnancy didnt find out I was pregnant till 16 weeks, boyfriend left me at 19 weeks and I continued with that pregnancy to have healty baby boy. I was a single parent and yes I coped. Some women couldnt. Its case by case and 2 doctors have to agree that it is best for the woman to have the procedure than to continue with the pregnancy. I dont think that lowering the age is going to help, maybe ensuring doctors have stricter guide lines as to what fits into the 15 - 24 week category would be more beneficial.
Like I said before though I know that on the NHS in my area you CANNOT get an abortion for social reason above 15 weeks.
I'm not judging you Goudsoulette and apologies if you thought so. I do not believe that a decision to abort is taken lightly but I feel that the long term psychological damage due to a late abortion , needs to be taken into consideration. I have never aborted a baby - but then I have been in the fortunate position of having a supportive husband. We have our ups and downs like any couple of course but I know that he is supportive of me. I was only 22 when I had my first child and apprehensive - like any new mother but I know in my heart of hearts that even if my hubby had left me , abortion would NEVER have been an option because she was not just my hubby's baby - she was my child too. I could feel her kicking inside me, I saw her little image on the scan and I spent my time wondering what she would look like , what kind of person she would grow into etc.


I appreciate that not every woman feels this way and this is why every case of abortion is treated on it's own merit. I just can't get my head around the fact that it can take 24 weeks for some women to arrive at this decision. I just feel that in late abortions , the woman is conscious of the transformation from embryo to foetus and has felt it kick thus putting her in a position of understanding that this is in fact not just a mass of cells but a little person. The long term effects of this could be quite devastating and if the time limit was lowered , then I believe that women who wish to abort would have no choice but to do so or continue with their pregnancy. How can a woman NOT know she is pregnant at 24 weeks ? The foetus is kicking at between 16-18 weeks. I agree that more stringent checks should be made on abortions and that the guidelines are changed to stop flimsy excuses for terminations being made. Only genuine cases where real medical , psychological damage to mother dictates an end to pregnancy should be considered.

Apologies Sair from deviating from your
original question.
and with that enigma I totally agree with you. I just get peed off with film makers sensationalising tragic situations, they could have put that money into counselling the women in question into maybe having there children and then possibly adoption..
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I understand this would have raised sensitive issues with some people and I am sorry if anyone has been upset by my post. Thank you for your views though and I can't help but say my bit now. The person who it was is actually a member of my family and I can't really get over it since I was told earlier this evening. I have a 3 year old son myself who was conceived under not so great circumstances but, I got pregnant and it was my choice to keep him and my responsibility to provide and look after him. That aside, I completely agree with the view that how can a woman not know she is pregnant at 5 months? (that is what she had told her parents) I just can't believe it. Her circumstances were that she had split up with her boyfriend and 5 months later 'realised' she was pregnant and didnt want his baby, being single and 19. Yes her life would have been tough and she would have had to remain in contact with her ex for the sake of their child, but how can someone put themselves before their child (ok, foetus) and 'get rid of it', for the want of a better phrase, because she didnt want to have to remain in contact with the ex. It is actually upsetting me quite a lot as I have been heavi ly critiscised (sp) by members of my family for being a single mum blah blah but I just couldnt do that. At the same time, I am deeply distressed for her and can't imagine what she must have gone through and to be told she'd had a boy. It tears my heart out to feel sadness for her and at the same time confusion at how she could go through with such a horrific ordeal. I really feel upset about this and needed to talk. Sorry
I wish that more women WERE offered counselling as I know women who have rushed into abortions and deeply regretted it or have been deeply troubled by what they have done. Instead of presenting abortion as a solution to a problem , it would be nice if women had the chance to discuss other possibilities ie adoption. By that stage , who knows - the mother/child bond is very potent and once you hold your baby in your arms , I defy most women to want to let go again. If the woman still wishes to proceed with the abortion , then of course her wishes should be respected. I would hate to see a return to the days of women dying in dirty , backstreet abortion clinics because they were in desperation and felt that they had no way out. More should be done to educate women on safe sex and what to do when things go wrong ie unwanted pregnancy. I just feel that from what I know about abortion - which I admit I have never been a party to - there is no or very little of follow up care for the woman. Once she has 'done the deed' so to speak , she is very much on her own , with perhaps a handful of leaflets and a few tel numbers to call if she feels down. Other than that she is very much on her own and I worry about the rammifications of that in terms of long term psychological damage in the case of late abortions.


The programme which I mentioned did not really sensationalise late abortions. The main thrust of it was to highlight the plight of the poor doctors who have to perfom these operations - many of which are not deemed a medical necessity. These were hardened men/women who were crying uncontrollably because they did not wish to perform these ops but felt duty bound to do so. If it deters one woman and makes her think twice about what she is doing then it can't be all bad.
Gosh, that is a very tough situation for you but awful for her. Lots of woman have concealed pregnacies though. I know where you are coming from on the family disapproving, my grandad wouldnt tell his brothers about me having a baby because I was a singleton.
Its a done deed for her now though, she needs to live with this for the rest of her life so make sure she is well loved and supported.
Very few NHS doctors will perform a late abortion so they get referred to BPAS to do it. From here women go to Bournemouth or London.
I was offered excellent care throughout my before and aftercare, I received more than adequate couselling and adoption was discussed. I knew that if I continued with my pregnancy I would never be able to give a child up for adoption, just as I would never have been able to have a late termination (I was fortunate enough to be 7 weeks at the time). By the way I was breastfeeding and on the minipill when I got pregnant this time so was very very unfortunate to catch.
Sair ~ I really hope you and your family can work through this.

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