An abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so it doesn't result in the birth of a baby.
The Abortion Act 1967, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, allows termination of a pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner, subject to certain conditions. This applies to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Under the Act an abortion must be carried out in a hospital or specially licensed clinic, and normally before 24 weeks of pregnancy. Before a legally induced abortion can take place, two doctors must agree that the operation is less risky for the woman than continuing the pregnancy, and that one or more of the following grounds for abortion apply:
(Source: Department of Health, Abortion Statistics England and Wales, May 2012)
The law outlined above does not apply to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.