COVID-19 Wider Impacts - Termination of Pregnancy

As an essential service, care relating to termination of pregnancy has been provided throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Termination of pregnancy can be carried out as a medical procedure or, less commonly, a surgical procedure. Medical terminations involve the woman taking two different medicines 24-48 hours apart to end her pregnancy. Prior to October 2017, women having a medical termination were required to attend a clinic or hospital on two occasions to take the first and then, separately, the second medicine. From October 2017, women requiring an early medical termination (at up to 9 weeks and 6 days gestation) were able to take the second medicine away with them at the end of their first appointment, and subsequently take that at home. From 31 March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, women requiring an early medical termination (at up to 11 weeks and 6 days gestation) have been able to have an initial remote consultation, by telephone or video call, then take both medicines at home.

Termination of pregnancy (also referred to as a therapeutic or induced abortion) is provided under the terms of the Abortion Act 1967 and subsequent regulations. When a healthcare practitioner provides a termination of pregnancy, there is a legal requirement for them to notify the Chief Medical Officer of the termination within seven days of it taking place. Public Health Scotland is responsible for the collation of data derived from notifications of terminations of pregnancy on behalf of the Chief Medical Officer. Detailed information on terminations is published each year by Public Health Scotland. The most recent report covers the year to December 2019.

This dataset presents information on the number of terminations of pregnancy carried out in Scotland, and the average gestation (stage of pregnancy) at which they occurred. Data is shown at Scotland and NHS Board level, as well as broken down by age group and deprivation.

This data is also available on the COVID-19 Wider Impact Dashboard. Additional data sources relating to this topic area are provided in the Links section of the Metadata below. Information on COVID-19, including stay at home advice for people who are self-isolating and their households, can be found on NHS Inform.

All publications and supporting material to this topic area can be found in the weekly COVID-19 Statistical Report. The date of the next release can be found on our list of forthcoming publications.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
Source These data are derived from the Notifications of Abortion to the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland (CMO) under the Abortion (Scotland) Regulations 1991.
Author PHS Maternity Team
Version 1.0
Last Updated October 5, 2023, 09:52 (BST)
Created March 16, 2021, 15:14 (GMT)
Contact Address Public Health Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB
Subject COVID-19 Impact, Maternity & Births
Frequency Monthly
Time frame of data and timeliness The notification of abortion form should be completed and sent to the CMO within 7 days of the termination. The office of the CMO then send forms onto PHS.
Coverage The number of terminations of pregnancy is shown for each month from January 2018 onwards. Data is shown at all Scotland level and for each mainland NHS Board of residence. Due to small numbers, data is not shown for individual Island Boards of residence (NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland, and NHS Western Isles, however the Island Boards are included in the Scotland total.
Completeness Generally considered complete due to the statutory nature of notification submissions.
Accuracy Completing and submitting of notifications of abortion is a legal requirement therefore the quality of the data is thought to be relatively high, although occasional omissions and administrative errors in submitting notification forms may occur. Information on forms is clerically checked, with additional validation on data entry.
Continuity of data Reports data from January 2018.
Concepts and definitions Please see description above. Additional information and commentary are available on the Wider Impacts Dashboard (see Links section).
Disclosure Disclosure control methods have been applied to the data in order to protect patient confidentiality.
Revision statement Figures contained within each publication may be subject to change in future releases as submissions may be updated to reflect a more accurate and complete set of data.
Official statistics designation Management Information Statistics
Relevance and key uses of the statistics The data are used to describe the current impact and the severity of COVID-19 in Scotland.
Format csv
Language English

PHS Weekly COVID-19 Report

COVID-19 Wider Impact Dashboard

PHS Termination of Pregnancy Statistics

comments powered by Disqus