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From Northern Ireland

0345 300 3737

From Republic of Ireland

(Freephone) 1 800 200 374

Step-by-Step

We believe in Choice

If you’ve just found out you are pregnant, we are here to help you. In the UK, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. So, you are not alone.

We respect the right of women to decide whether and when to have children. It’s about what is most suitable for each individual and for each couple. Whatever your circumstances, we are here to support you with the information you need to make your own choice.

Deciding to have an abortion

There are many reasons why people may decide to have an abortion. This can be due to personal circumstances but also medical reasons for which terminating a pregnancy may be necessary. Rest assured that with us, you will not be judged and will be taken care of in a compassionate and caring way. All your details will be confidential.

Find out more about your pregnancy options

The Law on abortion in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

In both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, access to abortion services is highly restricted and thousands of women travel to access safe abortion care legally in England every single year.

Find out more about the law and eligibility criteria where you live

Travelling to England or Belfast

If you do not qualify for an abortion where you live, it is perfectly legal to travel to England to access treatment. 

If you do not have a passport, our team is just on the other side of the phone to assist you.

Abortion care is safe and legal in England up to 23 weeks + 6 days of pregnancy.

Marie Stopes UK will no longer be charging women from Northern Ireland for consultation or treatment. Find out more here

Why trust Marie Stopes UK

There are many ‘support organisations’ that claim they are here to help you, but please be aware that some organisations might not be truthful about the support they offer and may seek to influence your decision with anti-choice bias. 

So why should you trust us? Here are some reassuring facts.

  • Marie Stopes UK is the largest and most trusted abortion care provider in the UK
  • We operate abortion care services on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS) in England in over 80 locations
  • We have over 40 years of expertise in this field
  • All our centres and clinics are registered with the Department of Health (DoH)
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England, inspects, monitors and regulates all our locations to make sure we meet the standards of quality and safety
  • All our doctors are registered with the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • All our nurses are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • All our counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and adhere to their Ethical Framework for counselling professionals
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Which abortion method is right for me?

Generally speaking, the earlier an abortion is carried out the better.

The earliest someone can have an abortion is from 5-6 weeks of pregnancy – that is the time since the first day of your last period. Most abortions happen before 14 weeks but it is crucial that you are given enough time to consider all your options so you are as comfortable as possible with your decision.

Finding out how many weeks it has been since you last had a period is the first thing to take into account. Use our calculator to have an idea of how many weeks and how many days it has been. Just enter the first day of your last period.

Based on the results you will be able to see if you could choose to have a medical abortion - take the abortion pill(s) - or a surgical abortion.

Once you have an idea of which abortion method may be right for you, please do get in touch.

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Are you pregnant?

One of the first things we will do is to confirm that you have had a positive pregnancy test.

Please be aware that pregnancy test kits which state how many weeks you have been pregnant for may only go up to 5 weeks, so you may be over this timeframe. Only a trained medical professional will be able to give an exact date with an ultrasound scan.

Checking if you qualify for abortion in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland

Our team will be able to assess if you qualify for treatment in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland, in which case we may be able to book you for a medical abortion in our centre in Belfast.

If you are unable to have treatment or have your ultrasound scan in our Belfast Centre, we will be able to book your appointment for treatment and scan in England.

Checking you are sure of your decision

We will ask if you have considered all your treatment options. We will then ask if you’d like to speak to one of our qualified counsellors to talk through your emotions. This service is free as part of your treatment and can be done over the phone. 

Ensuring your security and confidentiality

We will then give you a personal PIN number and ask for your answer to our security question. Please keep those details safe with you as you will be asked for them in any future communication with us. We will then book a time to call you back for your medical pre-assessment.

Your medical pre-assessment before treatment

It is really important to take your medical history into account to make sure that your choice of abortion is safe for you. This is why we need to have a medical consultation before you come for your visit.

There are two ways to have this medical pre-assessment:

  1. face-to-face (including ultrasound scanning)
  2. over the phone (without ultrasound scanning until your appointment is booked in England or in Belfast)

The easiest option is to have your medical pre-assessment face-to-face in our Belfast Centre if you live nearby. This will accurately indicate which treatment option is available to you. If your appointment for treatment is in England, this will mean that your appointment will be faster.  

Otherwise, you can arrange the assessment with one of our health care assistants over the phone at a time that suits you. You would then have your ultrasound scan in England.

You will pay the fee for the pre-assessment over the phone before you travel.

Read more about what medical pre-assessment is and how much it costs?

You could also opt to have your ultrasound scan at one of our trusted partner’s clinics in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Find out who our trusted partners are where you live

Booking your appointment

The next step is to choose which centre you’d like to visit for treatment.

Our Centres

We have 12 centres in the UK, which offer both medical and surgical options. Our centre in Belfast may be able to offer you medical abortion treatment if you meet the Northern Irish legal criteria but cannot offer surgical options.

Find a centre for your treatment

Priority appointment

We try to offer priority appointments for Irish women. For example, if you’re booked for a medical abortion, you could take the 2 tablets and may be able to go home on the same day.

Why we advise Irish women to choose a centre

As a registered provider of abortion care, we have two main types of clinical set ups: centres and clinics. Typically, a centre would offer both surgical and medical abortion appointments and a clinic would only offer medical abortion treatment.

We tend to book women coming from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland into one of our centres.

This is because if your ultrasound scan shows that you are over the limit for the abortion pills (9 weeks + 3 days pregnant), we would quickly be able to change your appointment to a surgical abortion on the same day depending on availability.

See all of our centre locations

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Helping you plan your visit

We understand how stressful it can be to book transport and accommodation if needed, especially if you’ve not visited England before. This is why our dedicated concierge team will be able to support you in planning your visit.

Our unique Concierge service

Our unique concierge service is available to help you. Once your appointment is booked we can help you coordinate your flights or ferry travel with your appointment times.

Please do not book your flights before your appointment is confirmed. Often flights cannot be changed or reimbursed for cancellation.

Depending on your treatment type, you may be able to go home on the same day, or may need to stay in England overnight.

Our expert concierge team can:

  • Search for the cheapest flights/ferries with travel times to fit around your appointment
  • Give you support to book local hotels if you need to stay overnight
  • Book your complimentary taxi to take you from the airport/ferry ports to our centre/clinic and back
  • Offer advice if you’re in financial difficulty but still want to access legal & safe abortion care services in England
  • Send you medical Visa documentation if you do not have a passport

Find out more about how long you may have to stay

 

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Preparing for your appointment

There are a few things to keep in mind before you come for your appointment. 

Fasting guidelines 

There are fasting guidelines for each abortion treatment that are very important to follow.

This is for your safety, and your appointment may need to be moved to another day if you don’t follow the guidelines.

If you have any questions before your appointment about these fasting guidelines, or anything else, please call us.

For a medical abortion

  • 24 hours before appointment - do not drink alcohol
  • 48 hours after treatment - do not drink alcohol until 48 hours after treatment

For a surgical abortion without anaesthetic

  • 24 hours before appointment - do not drink alcohol
  • 48 hours after treatment - do not drink alcohol until 48 hours after treatment

For a surgical abortion with anaesthetic 

For your safety, it's very important that your stomach is empty before you have a procedure under general anaesthetic or sedation.

  • 24 hours before appointment - do not drink alcohol
  • 6 hours before treatment - stop eating (you must not eat anything for at least 6 hours prior to your appointment. You can drink clear liquids such as water)
  • 2 hours before treatment - stop drinking (you can drink clear liquids, such as water, only up to 2 hours before your treatment)
  • 48 hours after treatment - do not drink alcohol until 48 hours after treatment

Please avoid heavy meals as they may not have passed through your stomach in time for your appointment.

You can chew gum and suck boiled sweets up to when you get called through for your procedure.

Anything you drink before your procedure should be a clear liquid, such as water or clear apple juice. Please do not drink milk or anything milk-based.

You will be able to eat and drink as normal after your treatment.

 

What to bring with you

  • Sanitary towels suitable for heavy flow (jumbo packs of around 20 night time pads are best) – in particular for a medical abortion. You will not be able to use tampons to avoid infection
  • Painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, or Co-Codamol
  • Supportive underwear - knickers not thongs
  • Loose and cosy clothing for your comfort. If you are having a surgical abortion it’s best to wear a long t-shirt or top on the day. You won't need to fully undress for your treatment – you'll only be asked to remove your lower garments. If you are having anaesthetic it is best to wear short sleeves. You may want to bring a warm jumper in case you get cold
  • Flat shoes – not high heels in case you are a bit unsteady on your feet afterwards
  • Please don’t bring valuable items
  • Mobile phone charger and maybe a good book to pass the time

Please bring a form of ID

Please remember to bring a photo ID with you to your appointment.

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On the day when you get here

If you want to, we can book you a complimentary taxi to get you to your appointment on the day. This taxi will be arranged in advance by our advice team when you book your appointment so it’ll be waiting for you at the airport or ferry port. At the centre, you’ll be greeted by our receptionist who will check your details and arrange payment. You will then be asked to sit in the waiting room until your appointment. You may be coming with a companion who can sit with you in the waiting area and unfortunately they will not be able to come with you into assessment, treatment, or recovery rooms.

There may be people outside who use emotional or graphic images to try to make you change your mind. Please follow the guidance we will give you over the phone with regards to this. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, don’t hesitate to call us and someone can walk you in.

Paying for your treatment

Our private fees are discounted for women travelling from the Republic of Ireland.

You can view our private fees here

Marie Stopes UK will no longer be charging women from Northern Ireland for consultation or treatment. Find out more here

Seeing a nurse for your scan and final checks

One of our registered nurses will perform an ultrasound scan (this can be either an abdominal ultrasound on the belly or a vaginal ultrasound which is inserted). The nurse will also complete a finger prick blood test and check your blood pressure.

This is done to confirm the abortion method you are booked in for is safe for you.

Contraception advice

You may be thinking that you don’t want to fall pregnant again - at least not unintentionally. This is why contraception is an important thing to consider whilst you visit us. The nurse can talk to you about types of contraception that may suit you.

It's possible for women to conceive immediately following an abortion, so please make sure you don’t take the chance with having unprotected sex after your abortion.

Read our FAQs about sex after abortion

For a medical abortion

If you have chosen a medical abortion, our nurse will give you the first tablet at this stage. She will explain exactly how to take this and what to expect. You are free to go outside of the centre if you want to before coming back for your second appointment or decide to stay within the clinical environment.

You would then come back typically between 6 to 72 hours after the first tablet for the second set of tablets. The nurse will explain what’s involved in having the second tablet and what to expect afterwards.

Find out more about the medical abortion pill(s)

For a surgical abortion

If you have chosen a surgical abortion, you will meet with our doctor and anaesthetist who will go through your notes and make sure you are medically fit for the procedure. You will then go to the pre-treatment waiting area which is where you’ll be asked to change your trousers or skirt for a sarong we’ll give to you. You can keep your top on. If you have any questions, at this stage, please ask one of our nurses.

For later surgical abortions over 15 weeks, you will need to take a tablet to prepare your cervix which may take a couple of hours to take effect. But you will stay in the centre for this necessary part of your treatment.

The doctor will then proceed with the abortion. The nurses are always here if you need to hold someone’s hand.

Recovery

Once the treatment is complete, you will be taken into a recovery area where you can sit back, have a biscuit and a drink to start your recovery. We want to make sure everything is ok before discharging you.

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Our abortion care doesn’t end once you leave our centre

Your pre-booked taxi will drop you back at the airport or at the ferry port so your return journey can be as quick and easy as possible. The Marie Stopes UK Centre you visit will arrange the taxi back for you on the day. This is a free taxi as part of your treatment fee but you can opt out of this if you want to. Just let us know!

For your comfort, please read our guidance on what symptoms to expect if you’re flying back.

Read our advice on flying back to Ireland following treatment

Reassurance

You may have worries about your abortion when you are back home. For the abortion pill(s) for example, you may worry that it has not worked, that your bleeding levels are too high or too low. You may be worried you have an infection or that something is not quite right. Our nurses are available 24hours a day on the end of the phone if you’re worried about anything.

View our aftercare advice on tips to recover quickly

Your pregnancy test

We advise that you take a pregnancy test 4 weeks after your treatment to confirm that your abortion has been successful. If you take a pregnancy test too early, it may show a false positive.

Read our guidance on your pregnancy test

Free access to counselling

Abortion can be an emotional experience. If you have no one you can talk to about your feelings, our specialist counsellors are here to listen. There is no time limit for you to start counselling, if you need to talk the day after your appointment, or three years after, our qualified hand-picked team will be there for you.

Find out more about post-abortion counselling

Rare complications

We are here to support you 24 hours a day. We can offer our medical expertise and reassurance when you most need it.

Read about our advice on signs to watch out for

With an abortion, each individual will have a different experience but with Marie Stopes UK, you can have the confidence that you are in expert care and that we will go the extra mile to look after you as best we can.

If things don’t go to plan, you can always fall back on us.

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We're here to help 24/7. Get in touch.

From Northern Ireland

0345 300 3737

From Republic of Ireland

(Freephone) 1 800 200 374

^ Please note that calls are recorded for quality and training purposes. In the UK, calls to 0345 numbers are included in most mobile and landline free minutes agreements. If you don't have a contract or are on pay as you go, you will be charged at the same rate as if you were calling an 01 or 02 number. If you are unsure, please check with your mobile/landline provider.

We offer free taxis

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We help with flights

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We offer counselling

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We will support you, every step of the way

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Gestation calculator

This calculator has been designed to give you an idea of the abortion treatment options available to you. If you decide to have an abortion with Marie Stopes UK, one of our nurses will give a more approximate gestation date during your appointment by way of a scan.
Please note that this online calculator will only give you an estimated gestation based on the details you have provided.

Enter the date of your last period.