Lifestyle

Cost of Abortion Pill in The UK: A Guide to Abortion Costs

1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45. According to 2021 Government figures (the most recent data at the time of writing), England and Wales saw the highest number of abortions (214,256) since the Abortion Act was introduced and records began. This highlights just how vital and reliable information about early medical abortion is for women.

What is the abortion pill?

Medical abortion with pill (4-10 weeks) is carried out either in a clinic or using a ‘pills by post’ service (also referred to as ‘remote abortion pill treatment’).

‘Abortion pill’ is a bit of a misnomer as medical abortion actually requires two different kinds of pills: mifepristone and misoprostol.

Mifepristone is a pill that is usually taken orally and works by blocking the hormone that is required for a pregnancy to grow. 

Between 24 and 48 hours after taking mifepristone, misoprostol tablets are inserted into the vagina. These cause contractions and soften the cervix so that the pregnancy can be expelled. 

There are two ways to get a medical abortion with pill:

You can opt to have an abortion in a clinic (a face-to-face appointment with a doctor or gynaecologist). This is available both on the NHS and privately. You’ll attend the clinic or hospital for a face-to face appointment and if you decide to go ahead, you will take the first tablet whilst in the clinic, and take the second pill home with you.

You can also choose to opt for ‘pills by post’ which is mainly available privately. This is just as safe and usually involves a telephone appointment with a gynaecologist to run through any medical history and medications that you are taking, and to discuss the risks. Rather than taking the first tablet in the clinic, everything you need is posted to your door so you can complete the entire process from the comfort of your home.

Both methods follow the same process. Though, sometimes, scans may be required if you are unsure of the conception date.

Are abortion pills safe? Risks and complications

Abortion pills are widely considered to be the safest method for terminating an early pregnancy. A study from the University of California found that medical abortion is safe and effective 97% of the time – it is vital that both pills are taken. That being said, any medical procedure has its risks and it’s important to be aware of these. 

The earlier the procedure is carried out, the fewer chances of complications. In a small number of cases (NHS figures state 13 in 100 women require this), not all of the pregnancy passes and a further procedure called manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) is required to fully remove the pregnancy.

There is also a risk of infection, heavy bleeding and sepsis, but again, this is very small (NHS figures state 1 in 1,000 women experience this).

How much is an abortion?

The procedure can be carried out by the NHS or by a licensed private clinic, and the cost of abortion pill in the UK varies depending on which option you choose. Deciding to have an abortion is a personal choice, as is where you choose to have it.

For abortions funded by the NHS, the procedure is free of charge. You can either speak to your GP who will refer you to an abortion service; contact a clinic to ask for a referral to an abortion service; or you can self-refer directly to a provider in your area. You should not have to wait more than two weeks for the procedure.

If you choose to opt for a private clinic, be aware that private abortions incur costs that are to be paid by the patient. The exact cost depends on the location, and healthcare provider or clinic you choose, but you can expect medical abortions in the clinic to start from around £600 and pills by post to start from around £480. You may be able to get a same-day or next-day appointment for the procedure.

Whether you choose to use the NHS or have a private abortion, all details are kept 100% confidential, and you can expect a safe and non-judgemental environment.

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