Termination for medical reasons

Each year in the UK, more than 40,000 pregnant women will be told there is a risk their baby has a serious fetal anomaly and face an unimaginable choice. This is one woman's story.

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Tommy's news, 17/07/2018

Each year in the UK, around 800,000 women will become pregnant. More than 40,000 will be told there is a risk their baby has a serious fetal anomaly.

This then leaves parents in facing the decision to end their pregnancy. 

If the choice to terminate a pregnancy is made, parents are then left to navigate the complex and painful emotions, including bereavement.

Pregnancy termination of any type is a divisive and emotional issue, both personally and politically. Nevertheless, the loss of a much wanted pregnancy remains a loss and in our eyes, very much part of the baby loss community. 

Tommy's Midwife, Anna states: 

As midwives we have first -hand experience in caring for distraught parents who have been faced with making the decision to continue or end a very wanted pregnancy due to a diagnosis of abnormality with their little one. We wholly embrace these families and wish them to know that we want to support them in their grief and recovery. 

An article on the blog Little Big Fierce Co, explores the 'burden of choice' the writer faced:

In May 2014, we had to say goodbye to the little girl that we had, but never had. We had received the heart breaking news that our unborn baby was unwell and very unlikely to survive to term. We were given the burden of choice. We ‘chose’ to ‘interrupt’ our pregnancy and met our girl too soon. She was the tiniest thing. My little butterfly.

Termination for medical reasons is an incredibly important topic and one which we must keep talking about to help #breakthesilence. Our midwives are available Monday- Friday from 9am-5pm on our free information line to answer any questions you might have or even just to chat if you need to talk through your decision. We are here. 

You can reach the team at on 0800 014 7800 or via email at [email protected].

An individual decision

The decision to end a pregnancy is a highly personal one. Whatever you choose for the health of your baby and/or your own health and safety is entirely up to you. In all cases, it is a tremendously difficult decision for parents to make and is often accompanied by significant sadness and grief. 

Antenatal screening and diagnostic tests explained

All pregnant women in the UK are offered antenatal screening tests*. Most women will be reassured by the results but some will be given a result that leads to decisions about diagnostic testing. It is your choice to have any test.

Learn more about antenatal screening and diagnosis.

Our statistics

In the UK if a pregnancy is terminated for medical reasons, this represents a very small number and while this is not encompassed in the 1 in 4 statistic of pregnancy loss, we do know that many terminated pregnancies happen because of heretic abnormalities or a complication with the fetus growth, which is why all of our research is focused on identifying these pregnancy problems early on, to help stop loss from happening.

So while this number is not currently included in the statistic, we fully understand how devastating having to terminate a much wanted pregnancy can be, and we absolutely welcome those women into our support group and in the #togetherforchange movement.

How we hope to change these statistics 

Through our research, we aim to halve the number of babies that die during pregnancy or birth by 2030. We are achieving this through through the world leading research we conduct across all of our centres, looking into the causes and treatment of pregnancy complications. 

Research such as our study looking into the ways we could learn more about the genetic causes of miscarriage by examining traces in the placenta.

To do this, our researchers are looking at two techniques: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS). Both of these could be used to look at samples of the placenta, to find if the baby had genetic problems that stopped it surviving, so we can start giving parents the answers they need. 

Another of our studies, the EPOS study is looking at how to tell early on if there are complications with a baby’s heart that could put it at risk, and the best ways to manage ectopic pregnancies.

You can find out more about our research here. 

A safe place to share

We understand that it can be hard to tell your story, especially when you are not certain how it will be received but if you feel ready our Tommy's support group is here for you. 

Our Tommy’s Group, a safe destination for all members of the baby loss community. As part of the terms of joining the group, our members agree to help us maintain our supportive environment without judgement, as this is a place for everyone.

Tommy's support group

Antenatal results and choices helpline 

If you are looking to speak to someone about your tests or your decision, the Antenatal Results and choices helpline is available Monday to Friday, 10.00am-5.30pm call 0845 077 2290 or 0207 713 7486 from a mobile.


Our Research

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