About the Study

The legal limit for abortion in the UK is 24 weeks (except to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, to save the life of the pregnant woman, or for severe foetal abnormality). However, the provision of ‘later’ (second trimester) termination of pregnancy varies between NHS boards in Scotland and most do not provide abortion after 18 weeks, unless for the above exception. Currently, women requesting terminations after 18 weeks have to travel to England for the procedure.

There may be numerous reasons a woman might request a termination after 18 weeks. These include delays in realising or recognising pregnancy, delays in accessing and obtaining terminations, worries about having an abortion, and other concerns relating to relationships, family and life circumstances. To date, however, no research has focused on the experiences of women in Scotland who seek late terminations.

Women presenting at 16 weeks gestation or above at termination of pregnancy clinics in five NHS boards (Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lothian, Ayrshire & Arran, Grampian and Highland) are being invited to take part in an in-depth interview. Participants will be asked about their pregnancy and abortion experiences and reasons for late presentation. The findings will be used to inform the development of services and to help us to understand if interventions to reduce later terminations could be developed.

Research team:

The study is a collaboration between the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, five NHS Health Boards and the West of Scotland Sexual Health Managed Clinical Network.

Chief Investigator: Lisa McDaid, PhD, Sexual Health Programme Leader, MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU), Glasgow

Lisa is an experienced senior sexual health researcher and has responsibility for the overall management of the study.


Sharon Cameron, Consultant Gynaecologist, Chalmers Sexual & Reproductive Health Service, NHS Lothian

Audrey Brown, Consultant in Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sandyford, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Lucy Caird, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, NHS Highland

Catriona Melville, Consultant Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Gillian Flett, Consultant Sexual and Reproductive Health, NHS Grampian

George Laird, Network Manager, West of Scotland Sexual Health Managed Clinical Network


The research is funded by the Scottish Government.

Ethical approval

The research has been approved by the West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee (NHS).

More information

Click here for participant information.

Click here for more information on later termination of pregnancy.