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Do women seeking termination of pregnancy need pre-abortion counselling?
  1. Charlotte Baron1,
  2. Sharon Cameron2,
  3. Anne Johnstone3
  1. 1Medical Student, University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Consultant Gynaecologist, Chalmers Sexual and Reproductive Health Service, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Research Nurse, Chalmers Sexual and Reproductive Health Service, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms Charlotte Baron, University of Edinburgh Medical School, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK; s1101681{at}


Background Pre-termination counselling is currently voluntary in the UK; however, there has been political debate regarding the introduction of mandatory pre-termination counselling as well as who should be providing the abortion counselling services.

Objective To quantify the proportion of women who use pre-termination counselling services and to evaluate their experience.

Method An anonymous self-administered questionnaire of women requesting an abortion at Chalmers Sexual Health Centre and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh NHS Lothian from 6 October to 2 December 2014.

Results Only 18 (9%) of the 201 women surveyed reported using pre-termination counselling. The majority of women did not feel counselling was necessary because they were already certain of their decision. Nearly a quarter (22%) of women claimed to not know counselling was available. Women who did use counselling were satisfied with the services they received. The majority of counselling services were provided by the National Health Service and only one woman used a ‘pro-life’ charity. Women stated that they would prefer face-to-face counselling rather than telephone or Internet-based counselling.

Conclusions Most women do not seem to want or need pre-termination counselling therefore policies aimed at mandatory counselling, would be contrary to women's wishes. Counselling should be targeted at women with risk factors for psychological complications post-termination.

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