Accessibility statement

Time, timing and termination of pregnancy

A qualitative analysis of patients' and health professionals’ experiences


One in three women will have a termination of pregnancy (abortion) by the time they are 45. However, these women's voices are often missing from discussion of termination of pregnancy. 

Through confidential interviews, this project collected women's stories of their experiences of having a termination. It also explored the experiences of health professionals who work in this area of reproductive healthcare. While the research addressed all aspects of participants' experiences, it focussed particularly on what 'timing' means to women who have had a termination of pregnancy, and to those who provide this service.

The project is enormously grateful to all the women and health professionals who have given their time to take part in interviews. Data analysis is now complete, and the findings are being written up for publication. 

Publications from the study:

Beynon-Jones, Sian M. (2016) Gestating times: Women's accounts of the temporalities of pregnancies that end in abortion in England. Sociology of Health and Illness. (published online ahead of print).

This paper explores how women talk about the meaning of 'time' in relation to having ended a pregnancy. Commonly, we talk about pregnancy time in terms of weeks and days of gestation. Pregnancy time is described as a linear process with a clear beginning and end, something that simply passes and can be measured using weeks and days. This linear, 'gestational time' framing of pregnancy is central to the way in which abortion is discussed within healthcare, in the law and in public debate (for example, in discussion of 'time-limits' on abortion). Interviews with women concerning their experiences of abortion illustrate that the lived experience of pregnancy time is much more complex than this.

Beynon-Jones, Sian M. (2015) Revisioning ultrasound through women's accounts of pre-abortion care in England. Gender & Society, 29 (5), 694-715.

This paper explores women's descriptions of having an ultrasound to date their pregnancy prior to having an abortion. It illustrates how women's experiences of ultrasound in this context are shaped and constrained by dominant narratives of the meaning of this technology and, in particular, the scripts which are central to popular cultural portrayals of what it means to have an ultrasound during pregnancy. However, it also demonstrates several ways in which women contest these narratives and argues that there is a need to tell better stories about ultrasound, which create space for women's diverging experiences of the meaning of pregnancy. A blog post which provides an accessible summary of the paper's findings is available here.


If you have any questions, then please email Sian at or phone her on 01904 323064.


Grant number: 095720/Z/11/Z

Start date: 01/08/2011

End date: 31/01/2015

The views expressed in this website are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wellcome Trust.



Credit Oliver Burston, Wellcome Images. Image cannot be reproduced without written permission from the Wellcome Trust. Computer graphic depicting the passage of time. Tens of analogue clocks fill an hourglass. Cogs and mathematical formulae appear against a blue background dotted with stars.

Credit: Oliver Burston, Wellcome Images (Time: B0006866 )

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Dr Siân Beynon-Jones

Department of Sociology
Wentworth College
University of York
YO10 5DD


Tel: +44 01904 323064