The aim of this guideline is to ensure that all women considering induced abortion have access to a service of uniformly high quality. It is hoped that this guideline will be implemented across all relevant healthcare sectors and will promote a consistent standard regardless of the sectors in which an individual woman is managed.
The guideline does not cover prevention of unintended pregnancy other than to recommend robust arrangements for contraceptive provision after abortion. Counselling to assist individuals in making the decision to have an abortion, rather than to continue the pregnancy, is not discussed in detail. The starting point of this guideline is the point at which a woman presents to a health provider requesting induced abortion of an unintended/unwanted pregnancy.
The guideline has been developed under the auspices of the RCOG for its Fellows and Members practising in Great Britain. The guideline is also intended for other professional groups who share in caring for women considering abortion: primary care teams, sexual health services, gynaecology nurses, staff participating in non-NHS assessment centres and clinics and all those professionals providing abortion counselling. Those with responsibilities for planning and/or commissioning abortion services, for example directors of public health, local government, NHS trust managers and managers of primary care groups, may also find the guideline helpful.
In this guideline, the term ‘clinician’ is used to refer to all healthcare professionals who participate in direct clinical patient care. Thus, the term includes doctors, nurses and midwives.
The guideline has been developed taking into account abortion legislation and available resources in Great Britain. The guideline may be used for reference in other countries, but readers should bear in mind that legislation, resources and facilities will be different.