Ending a pregnancy for fetal abnormality

Signing the consent form

Before a pregnancy can be ended, the hospital is required to get written consent from the woman concerned. Consent forms explain what will happen during the termination. Some hospitals publish consent forms on their websites so that people can read them in advance. 

Most of the women we talked to said they couldn't remember signing the consent form, though most realised looking back on what happened that they must have done so. 

Those who could remember signing the consent form had strong feelings about whether women should have sole responsibility for signing the form - some wanted their partners to share responsibility for the decision and to sign the form, others felt just as strongly that women only should sign the form. Men also held opposing views about whether they should sign consent forms.

Seeing particular words and phrases set out on the consent form shocked people. The words 'termination', 'abortion' and 'feticide' all upset some people. A woman who read all her medical notes said she was shocked to see that her file contained documents referring to the 'Abortion Act'. 

Ending a pregnancy consent forms also have to be signed by two doctors who are required to check that the woman understands what she is about to do and that she has had all the information she needs to make the decision. One woman described how even though she realised the doctor was only doing his job she found his questions unsettled her at a very difficult time when she wanted reassurance. She felt she was being asked to justify her decision and which seemed more important to her at that moment than signing the consent form.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated June 2014.



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