Monday 14 June 2010

We DO talk to men about abortion

An article in the Daily Telegraph today asks why no one is holding men responsible for abortion.

I can reassure you that some of us are absolutely committed to including men in the discussion about abortion; helping them to understand the scope and limitation of their rights when it comes to abortion; and acknowledging their responsibility and role in unintended pregnancy. We do this by creating resources and facilitating workshops that help young people to explore men’s role in pregnancy and men’s positive and negative feelings when their partner finds herself pregnant. We do this by working with teachers to facilitate discussion with BOTH sexes about pregnancy prevention, pregnancy options and abortion. We do this by encouraging the youth-workers, sexual health workers and nurses who work with young people to make spaces for young men to explore and express their feelings about their partner’s unintended pregnancy. We do this by asking policy-makers to ensure that constructive and evidence-based discussion of pregnancy decision-making and abortion is included in all programmes of Sex and Relationships Education.

Only by positioning abortion as a real-life health issue which acknowledges how common it is, rather than a solely abstract moral issue which says how wrong it is can we begin to make space for the kinds of discussions Education For Choice encourages: how do unintended pregnancies happen in the first place? what role could young men play in helping prevent them? what does it feel like to face the dilemma of an unintended pregnancy for the young woman and for her partner? what would you need to think about and who would you need to talk to if this happened to you or your partner? how would you manage the conflicting opinions of your partner, family and peers? how do you find a way to listen to what you actually feel and want in all of this? which professionals can you go to for accurate information and impartial support... and on and on. These are the conversations that help young men understand that abortion is an issue that directly and intimately involves and affects them. These are the kinds of conversations we have every day. These are the conversations that result in this kind of feedback from young men in answer to our question ‘what has this workshop taught you?’:

'To think about my actions that might take place and their consequences'

'It is important to think forward before having sex'

'Contraception is more important than ever – be more serious about it'

'I would really think before I have sex because I don’t want to take the risk'

'Use protection and be more careful'

'I will think before I have sex'

Visit Education For Choice for more information on professional training, best practice toolkits and resources for teachers

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