Wednesday 13 October 2010

'The A Word'

“You might be more successful with your fundraising applications if you stopped using ‘The A Word’”. This was the advice we received last week from the professional fundraiser we are working with. According to her, “it puts people off”. The 'A Word' she was referring to was abortion.

It’s precisely because the word ‘abortion’ puts people off that Education For Choice (EFC) needs to exist. Up to one in three women in the UK will experience abortion. It is a safe, common, legal medical procedure available on the NHS. So why are we so reticent to talk about it, to provide our young people with evidence-based information about it, even to name it? Education For Choice is launching a new campaign to make sure that all young people know the facts about abortion. Our new campaign, ‘The A Word’, aims to improve provision of education about pregnancy prevention, pregnancy decision-making and abortion.

When abortion is discussed in schools, too often it is done by those with a political agenda who are prepared to disseminate misinformation in order to support their argument. Anti-abortion organisations claim to reach tens of thousands of young people in schools across the country, invited by teachers unaware of the damage they may inflict. Instead of creating a safe environment for young people to consider this complex issue, they often use graphic images and misinformation to promote their anti-abortion agenda. Myths that EFC has been fighting for years, such as the idea that abortion causes infertility, gain strength and momentum as they are presented in the classroom environment.

This form of abortion education has set a dangerous precedent – that it is acceptable to deliberately misinform young people and to conflate facts and values in topics that have an ethical dimension. Parents and scientists worry about what topic will be next in which the opinions of teachers or visitors might trump the facts.

‘Surely issues like abortion should be addressed in a way that makes all the facts available rather than merely opinion, thus enabling the students to reach a conclusion by informed debate. When it comes to abortion it’s so important – it can affect the rest of their lives.’
Samantha Bracey, Parent.

At EFC we believe that young people should not be lied to. School should be a place where they can learn to recognise the difference between values and evidence and to avoid conflating opinion and fact, sermons and science.

Our ‘A Word’ campaign has one goal: to ensure that young people can receive accurate information and good quality education about abortion whoever they are and wherever they are. To achieve this we will:
1. Continue providing our pregnancy decision-making and abortion education workshops in schools so that we carry on meeting young people, providing them with information, finding out what they need to know, and training professionals to provide them with the best possible education and support.
2. Conduct an audit of what and how schools in England are teaching about abortion within Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and Religious Education to demonstrate the paucity of good quality abortion education.
3. Campaign for comprehensive SRE that includes evidence-based information and discussion about abortion – with no opt outs for schools or parents.

All our education work is currently unfunded. If you believe that young people have a right to accurate information and good quality education on abortion, please visit our Just Giving page and help us reach our goal of raising at least £50,000 by the end of December which will help EFC to carry out its education and advocacy work for the next year.

You can also support EFC and our work with young people and professionals by showing that you are not afraid of ‘The A Word’. We ask you to:
Sign our statement of support for The A Word campaign
Follow us on Twitter
‘Like’ our Facebook page
Tweet, blog and spread the word about our important campaign
Become a Champion For Choice and offer EFC some of your time to support this work.

Visit our website and read the rest of our blog to learn more about our work. To discuss other ways of supporting us, or to find out more about how we will use your donation,
email us: efc (at)


  1. Like my sons 'community' school which is run by a headmistress and head of governers who both attend the same local church and give voice to every fundamentalist roadshow and preacher that passes by. My objection is people like this who use their own private personally held beliefs to inform school policy. The no opt out is really the only way you will get anything like this past people in control who have a religious axe to grind.

  2. I finished secondary school a couple of years ago. Quite a lot of girls were pregnant whilst at school, and everyone knew at least one person who had an abortion, so they knew the 'reality'. We never had people come in to the school to talk to us about abortion and it did't come up until year 11. That was only because we needed to know religious views on abortion for our RE exam! It was nothing to do with giving us information that may affect us in life - and I think this is one of the issues - schools have become focused on exams and not the emotional/other sides of life.