The literature concerning psychosocial aspects of induced abortion is reviewed. Key areas discussed are: the legal context of abortion in Britain, psychological characteristics of abortion-seekers, pre- and post-abortion contraceptive use, pre- and post-abortion counselling, the actual abortion and the effects of termination versus refused abortion. Women seeking termination are found to demonstrate more psychological disturbance than other women, however this is probably temporary and related to the short-term stresses of abortion. Inadequate contraception is frequent prior to abortion but improves afterwards. Few women find the decision to terminate easy and most welcome opportunities for non-judgemental counselling. Although some women experience adverse psychological sequelae after abortion the great majority do not. In contrast, refused abortion often results in psychological distress for the mother and an impoverished environment for the ensuing offspring.