04:38am Thursday 27 February 2020

RCOG release: Revised guidelines on women seeking induced abortion published

The RCOG believes that abortion and contraception are an integral part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.

The clinical guidelines are for all healthcare professionals and aim to ensure that all women considering induced abortion have access to a high quality service based on national standards.

The recommendations cover commissioning and organising services, possible side effects and complications, pre-abortion management, abortion procedures and follow up care.

In addition there are a number of new and improved recommendations. These include:

  • Services should identify issues which make women particularly vulnerable, for example child protection needs and domestic abuse, and refer them on to appropriate support services in a timely manner.
  • Services should provide women with information about the physical symptoms and sequelae that may be experienced after abortion such as pain and bleeding and gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Service providers should inform women about the range of emotional responses that may be experienced during and following an abortion.
  • Providers should be aware that women with a past history of mental health problems are at increased risk of further problems after an unintended pregnancy.
  • During pre-abortion assessment women should be offered screening for STIs and there should be a system for partner notification and referral to a sexual health service.
  • All appropriate methods of contraception should be discussed with women at the initial assessment and a plan agreed for contraception after the abortion.
  • Women should have access to counselling and decision-making support, however, women who are certain of their decision should not be subjected to compulsory counselling.
  • A 24-hour telephone helpline number should be available for women to use after abortion if they have any concerns.


For more information please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7772 6446 or 020 7772 6357.


To view the new guidelines, please click here.

The RCOG has also produced two Q&As on the revised guidelines.  These are:

The RCOG guideline on The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion was first published in 2000. An updated version followed in 2004 and this guideline served until this revision which took place during 2010 and 2011.

The revision of the guideline was undertaken by a multi-professional group supported by the Department of Health (DH). Members of the Group included representatives of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), as well as Commissioners and Providers of abortion services within the NHS and the independent sector, and a member of the RCOG Consumers’ Forum.

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