What are the alternatives to abortion?

Options for avoiding pregnancy and dealing with unwanted pregnancy

In 2011 there were 202,402 abortions in England, Wales and Scotland, an increase from 119,000 in 1974.

To avoid an unwanted pregnancy, the following options can also be considered:

  • Contraception - education about contraception for any sexually active individual helps them to take responsibility and avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Contraceptive advice is freely available from family doctors and family planning clinics.
  • Avoiding sexual activity - avoiding sexual activity until the person is ready for parenthood is thought by some to be effective, particularly if there are issues with using contraception. Some people, and many Christians, wait for marriage before beginning a sexual relationship.

When a pregnancy is unwanted, the following options can be considered:

  • Adoption - an individual or a couple become a child's legal parent(s) after its birth. The adopted child usually takes on the surname of the adoptive parent(s) and they also inherit from them. The child's birth parents no longer have any rights or responsibilities towards the child. Adoption is usually the preferred option if the child's birth parents are not able to look after the child.
  • Practical support to keep the baby - some organisations provide new mothers with financial support for housing and to buy baby clothes and food. This is to encourage the mothers to have the child rather than to have an abortion. This might mean that the child can be brought up by its birth mother.
  • Counselling - this can support an individual faced with an unexpected pregnancy in coming to terms with the situation, and thinking through the options calmly before making a decision. Counselling may be available for the wider family as well.