Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Thursday, 24 March 2011
After an interactive training session (with lots of fruit tea!) the advisors have been using their knowledge and enthusiasm to advise us on our work as well as to create content on the topic of young people’s reproductive health. They’ve commented on a resource we’re developing, acted as ambassadors for EFC at a sexual health event and are now working on their own advocacy film about abortion. The film will bust some common myths about abortion and the group are interviewing their peers and sexual health professionals to present a range of views and experience.
Of course we’ll post the film up on our YouTube page as soon as it’s finished but for now here’s a little teaser with EFC Youth Advisor Ruth debunking the myth that abortion leads to infertility...
Monday, 21 March 2011
This week we're borrowing another myth from the brilliant Scarleteen article How to (un)Pack for a Real Discussion About Abortion. Thanks again to Heather Corinna at Scarleteen for giving us permission to reproduce this extract. Be sure to visit the site for more information about sex, contraception, relationships and more: www.scarleteen.com.I spent a lot of my childhood in a hospital: my mother was a nurse and a single parent, the hospital was often my after-school hangout, and I was a curious kid. I probably saw more blood and guts than most children do for that reason. I was also an adventurous child who got injured a lot: I severed two of my fingers when I was seven, scraped the mush of them off the sidewalk, and carried them rather casually back to our apartment. (Some of my ability to do that without flinching was likely shock, mind you, but some was probably because I was used to dealing with or seeing injuries.) I also personally have seen blood and violence in my personal life outside medical situations, and have lived through a few incidents of brutality, as have other members of my family. And I have observed a number of abortion procedures, both in the first and second-trimester. I’ve also had a termination myself, and did so only with a local anesthetic.
Certainly, to some people, any surgery seems or looks bloody and brutal, especially those who get queasy around this stuff. Too, not everyone can manage emotions well around blood and other things involved in surgery and healthcare.
However, ANY surgical procedure usually involves blood. Most involve pain or discomfort, either before, during and/or in recovery from the surgery, and when a surgery is not painful, it’s usually because anaesthetic and/or sedation was used: some abortion providers offer both, others just one. Are abortions more bloody than most other procedures? No. More bloody or physically (or emotionally, though that, varies very widely from women to women and birth to birth) intense for a woman than childbirth? Not usually. I have to wonder sometimes if the people who call abortion things like bloody or brutal have ever witnessed a birth or even listened to honest accounts of birthing.
Are most women I have observed in horrible pain during their abortions? No. All of our pain thresholds vary, so what a woman experiences varies, but again, we’re not talking about a birth here (birth is usually painful, but we hardly suggest that's a reason women should not give birth), and remember, too, that most abortion procedures only take a few minutes, not hours and hours. Most abortions are not highly painful procedures, and pain can also be managed with medications, as with any surgery. While like other aspects of abortion, experiences of pain vary, some women even report that their monthly menstrual cramps or some sex they have in their lives had has been more painful than an abortion was.
I have yet to see an abortion procedure I’d describe as brutal or violent. As someone who has observed procedures first-hand, I’m always amazed by how many people who have NOT done so will tell me how things happen, or how awful everything is, apparently forgetting that of the two of us, I’m the only one who actually knows and has experienced how abortions are performed.
Monday, 14 March 2011
Statistically legal abortion is safer for women than carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth. This fact has been in the news recently thanks to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ recommendation to healthcare professionals that: ‘Women should be advised that abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term’.
Recent RCOG Guidelines ‘ The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion’
Friday, 11 March 2011
In an interview with the magazine the teen sensation was asked to share his views on everything from health care to premarital sex. When pressed on the issue of abortion, Bieber said: “I really don’t believe in abortion. I think [an embryo] is a human. It’s like killing a baby.” When asked whether he believed this even where a woman is pregnant as the result of rape he answered: “I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position so I wouldn’t be able to judge.” Rolling Stone has since corrected the quote, admitting that they had edited it incorrectly. Despite this, the quote still stands in the print version currently circulating on newsstands and has been reproduced in thousands of publications and online forums all across the world.
The resulting furore has many strands to it. Some have questioned why he was even asked for his opinion on this matter in the first place. Bieber is a self-professed Christian, raised by a born-again mother and is somewhat of a poster boy for the abstinence movement. It looks as though Rolling Stone were seeking to court controversy – something they are no stranger to - and manipulated him to this end. It’s easy to feel sympathetic towards the young singer as it seems as though he was a mere pawn in the hands of Rolling Stone. In an interview with a teen singer, we so have to wonder why they felt these questions needed to be asked, and why he was in a position to comment on them.
Some have gone further and questioned why he, a sixteen-year-old boy, has expressed a view on this, suggesting that his gender should have precluded him even having an opinion on the issue. There is something of a societal expectation that abortion is an issue for women, and women alone. To continue to reinforce this view alienates half the population, many of whom will experience an unplanned pregnancy with their partner. Men need to be able to hold an opinion on the matter, as it affects them too. Often the only time men’s voices are heard in the abortion discourse are from politicians and activists seeking to impose their own religious and ethical views on women. To exclude young men from the abortion debate can only lead to these types of views being held and lacking any real underlying facts and principles.
More concerning than all of this is just how much influence he actually yields. I don’t wish to be condescending about how easily influenced young girls are, but I only have to look at my cousins obsessively filing away Justin Bieber facts to feel even slightly worried. For many of his young fans this might be the first time they’ve even heard the word “abortion” before. Their teen hero has just told them it’s wrong. And what do they have to rebut it with? Young people are not being provided with the information about unplanned pregnancy and abortion they need to be able to make an informed choice about their beliefs and opinions.
This is exactly why Education For Choice is so important. My cousins and all the other young girls out there hanging on his every word should be able to make an informed choice about their sexual and reproductive freedoms. They should know that Bieber’s view is only one way to think. They should be able to separate the myths about abortion from the truth. They should be able to talk about it freely in a non-judgmental atmosphere. They should know their rights. EFC is the only UK charity dedicated to ensuring all young people can make and act on their own, informed choices about pregnancy and abortion, and this is exactly why I volunteer with them.
Monday, 7 March 2011
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Radio 4’s PM show (listen from 43.15) featured a discussion on leaflets being distributed by anti-abortion organisation The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) to GPs across the country. SPUC claim that over 1,000 GPs have requested their ‘Abortion: Your Right to Know’ leaflets and GP Dr Greg Gardner asserts his reasons for stocking the pamphlets. He claims they provide women with useful information on the ‘possible physical complications’ of abortion including an ‘increased risk of breast cancer’.
Before we move on let’s just have a little mini myth-bust on this claim that women need to know about the increased risks of breast cancer following abortion. The myth that abortion causes breast cancer has been debunked by Cancer Research UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). Which brings us on to the RCOG. During the radio discussion Dr Gardner claims he requested SPUC leaflets because there is a ‘dearth of accurate information for women considering abortion’ and that they need ‘proper information about potential long-term harms’. He doesn’t seem satisfied by the medical guidance put forward by the RCOG – a body dedicated to women’s health, which, in order to produce guidance for medical professionals and patients assesses and evaluates existing research in each relevant field.
Gardner’s claim that he proffers SPUC leaflets to provide women in his surgery with clinical information is, as Ann Furedi of bpas (also on the show) claims, ‘staggering’. Furedi goes on to make a point we really wish didn’t have to keep being made – that there are two separate discussions to be had here. One about the rights and wrongs of abortion; moral issues such as when life begins which are open to debate, and clinical evidence and information on the physical and psychological risks of abortion. As she points out, this medical information would surely be better obtained from reputable health organisations such as the RCOG rather than a campaigning organisation such as SPUC with a politically motivated agenda.
Clearly SPUC wish to dissuade women from having abortions. They have a right to present the viewpoint that abortion is immoral, or discuss their belief that human life begins at conception. However, we object to any obstacle which stands in the way of women’s access to evidence-based information on their health. When anti-abortion organisations make misleading claims related to medical information, those who support evidence based education and healthcare should be alarmed. When SPUC tell young people in schools that abortion causes breast cancer or infertility, ‘facts’ which hold no weight in the scientific/medical community; or when they use family doctors to relay this message, our ability to make an informed choice is compromised. Why can’t SPUC accept that abortion isn’t going to give a woman breast cancer, or make her infertile without relinquishing the belief that it is wrong?
Transcript of EFC presentation on facts and ethics