Although abortion is legal there is no law which requires the NHS to provide abortions. Where sufficient NHS services are not available many women can only get abortions if they pay for them. The Department of Health encourages Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and the relevant medical authorities to improve both the speed and quality of NHS-funded provision. The overall percentage of NHS-funded abortions in England and Wales rose from 50 per cent in 1991 to 78 per cent in 2002; however, there are still wide variations throughout the country, ranging from more than 90 per cent in some areas to less than 60 per cent in others.
Even in areas with good service provision, women may be obstructed by doctors who do not agree with abortion. A 1999 Marie Stopes International (MSI) survey found that about 18 per cent of GPs were opposed to abortion in some way.