Updated 20 December 2018
Words you may need to know
Pregnancy - this is when a woman is carrying an unborn child
Abortion - an abortion is an operation to end a pregnancy
Confirming - making sure that something is true
Period - this is the monthly bleed that women have. It is also called menstruation
Distress - mental suffering/ grief , anxiety or suffering
Termination - when something is terminated, it is ended
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist- these are doctors who specialise in pregnancy, delivering babies and caring for pregnant women
Paediatrician - this is a doctor who has been trained in the medical care of babies and children
Abnormalities - a condition which is not correct or usual, not normal
Procedure - method or how it happens
Consultation - a meeting with someone who is going to give you advice or medical help
Counselling services - help with personal or matters affecting the mind which is usually given by a professional
Adoption - when a child is adopted, an adult or adults agree to take on the legal responsibility of the child. The birth parents no longer care for or have a say in the child's upbringing
Certificate - this is a piece of paper which confirms something. It is often signed
Authorised - has permission to / is allowed to
Residence - where you live or stay
Contraception - this is methods of preventing or stopping pregnancy
Unprotected sex - this is when sex has taken place but no contraceptives were used
Paternal rights - this is the rights of fathers
Precedent - this is something that has happened before. It provides guidance
If you think that you are pregnant, you should have a pregnancy test as soon as possible. It is really important that you do this straight away because, if you decide you want an abortion, there are time limits.
Pregnancy tests vary in how soon they can tell you are pregnant. Some tests can tell after a period is one day late. Others do not work for several days after an expected period. You must check the instructions that come with the test.
After a period has been missed a urine sample is tested. The first urine sample of the day should be used.
Pregnancy tests can be done by:-
- using a home pregnancy testing kit which you can get from a chemist
- your GP or doctor
- the Family Planning Clinic at Le Bas Centre
- the Brook Advisory Centre, if you are under 21 years of age
If your test says you are not pregnant but you still believe you are, or miss another period, you should have another test to check the results. If you do decide to have another test, you should wait at least a week after the first test.
After about 12 - 16 weeks of pregnancy, urine tests are not always able to be trusted. You should therefore contact your own GP who will check you to say whether you are or you are not pregnant. Abortion on the grounds of distress is not available after the twelfth week.
Deciding whether or not to have an abortion
Once a woman has had her pregnancy confirmed she may find it difficult to decide whether or not to continue with the pregnancy. If you are unable to make the decision alone, you should talk it over with your partner, or a friend or relative. If those are not an option, you could go to;
- the trained counsellors at the Brook Advisory Centre (telephone 507981) if you are under 21 years of age
- a GP/ Doctor
- to the General Hospital where there is a fully qualified counsellor-telephone 442116.
If you are in any doubt about having the baby, it is really important that you get a pregnancy test and make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. You must not delay.
You will have to discuss what options you have with the doctor you see to get an abortion.
Getting an abortion
Under the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997, as amended, there are many different situations under which a woman may be offered a termination of pregnancy. There are also time limits which apply which depends on the reason for the termination.
To get an abortion two doctors approved by the Health and Social Services Department must agree that one of the following applies:-
- a termination is needed to save the woman's life or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health. One of the doctors must be an obstetrician and gynaecologist, and the other must practice in an area linked to the reason the woman requires the termination e.g. mental health. There is no time limit under this reason so a termination can take place at any time up until birth
- the woman is no more than 24 weeks pregnant, and that there is a serious risk that if born, the child would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to have a serious disability. One of the doctors must be an obstetrician and gynaecologist, and the other must be a paediatrician.
- the woman is no more than 12 weeks pregnant and her condition causes her distress.
Also, any registered doctor can end a pregnancy at any stage where the woman's life is in urgent danger.
Abortion up to the twelfth week - procedure
There are special procedures for getting an abortion up to the twelfth week in pregnancy for reasons of distress which must be obeyed:-
You must visit either;
- your GP / doctor
- any doctor in general practice
- the doctor at the Brook Advisory Centre if you are under twenty-one - telephone 507981
2.30pm - 7pm
3.30pm - 7pm
12noon - 3pm
3.30pm - 7pm
11am - 2pm
- the doctor at the Family Planning Clinic, Le Bas Centre, St Saviour's Road, telephone 443781 (daytime) or 769656 (during evening clinic hours only). (All by appointment only).
The doctor must give you :-
- Information about the health risks of abortion
- Printed information about the rights, grants and benefits which are given to mothers and children
- Printed information about counselling services, adoption and hospitals and clinics where abortions can be carried out
- A certificate to be given to the medical practitioner at her second consultation
If the woman's GP or the doctor she visits is not willing to refer her for the second consultation, she can consult another doctor who may have a different view of the case. However the first doctor must issue a Certificate to show that the first consultation has taken place.
Second consultation, after seven days
If the woman still wishes to have an abortion she must then see a gynaecologist / obstetrician who is authorised to carry out abortions. This consultation must happen at least seven days after the first, and the certificate from the first consultation is given to the gynaecologist / obstetrician.
There is a weekly clinic called the Termination of Pregnancy Outpatients Clinic which you might be sent to for your second consultation. The abortion will usually be carried out in a Day Surgery clinic so that you do not have to spend a night in hospital.
There is a charge of £155. If you have difficulty in paying the fee you should contact the Income Support , Special Payments, Section at Customer and Local Services.
On the day the abortion is carried out, the woman must have lived in Jersey, or have been resident in Jersey for ninety days before the abortion.
If you are under sixteen years of age
Many GP's / doctors may not be willing to refer a woman under sixteen years of age for an abortion without her parent's agreement. If this is the case, you should make an appointment at the Brook Advisory Centre for counselling, and to see Centre's doctor.
Although in the UK a young woman who is under sixteen year of age could have an abortion without needing her parents' consent, in Jersey this has never been legally tested and there is nothing in the law to cover this.
Under the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997 the length of a pregnancy is worked out from the first day of the woman's last period. Where this date is not known, the doctors belief of the length of the pregnancy is acceptable in law.
Where may abortions be carried out?
The law says that any hospital or nursing home which carries out abortions has to be approved. Any hospital under States of Jersey control is approved under the law. It is not expected that nursing homes will be allowed to carry out abortions.
Counselling after abortion and medical aftercare
If you attend the Termination of Pregnancy Clinic at the Visitors Clinic you will be seen by a fully trained counsellor who can offer counselling if this is wanted. An appointment will also be made for you to go back to the clinic, see your own doctor, a doctor at the Brook Centre or at the Family Planning Clinic as you wish, a week after the abortion has been carried out. This will be both a medical check up, and a chance to discuss counselling services if they are needed and also contraception advice. You can get counselling at the hospital at any time by phoning 442116.
Abortion in the UK
It might be that you would prefer to have your abortion carried out at a clinic in the UK rather than in Jersey. If that is the case you can contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Helpline Mon - Fri 8am - 9pm, Sat 8.30 - 6pm, Sun 9.30am - 2.30pm. Telephone 08457 304030.
Abortion pill and the 'morning after' pill
The abortion pill, known as RU486, is not available in Jersey at this time. This pill should not be mixed up with the 'morning after' pill which is available in Jersey and is used after unprotected sex. You can get the 'morning after' pill from GP's, the Family Planning Clinic and Brook. It can be taken up to three days after sex has taken place.
Paternal (fathers) rights
The question of whether any paternal rights exit in Jersey is not covered under the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997, and there has been no legal case in Jersey to set precedent. The Health and Social Services Department state that UK guidelines are normally followed where there is no legal precedent in Jersey.
In the UK the Abortion Act and Regulations do not give the right to stop or right to any information about abortion to the father, whether husband or not. A legal case found that an unborn child could not take legal action, nor could the father take legal action as the child's 'next friend'. The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the English law's refusal to give a married father any say in the decision.