Thursday 24 February 2011

Guest Blog: America’s Uterus Police

Today’s guest blogger is Reni Eddo-Lodge, a 21 year old English Literature student who writes about issues facing young people for The Guardian and has her own blog discussing ‘politics, feminism and other stuff’.

It must be very difficult to be a poor woman in the US right now. Rich, white, powerful men have spent the past few weeks in Congress making life changing decisions that will ultimately determine whether women will be granted control over their own bodies.

Unfortunately, it looks like Congress is winning.

If you follow American politics, you may have noticed that there has been an unprecedented rise of right wing patriarchal traditionalism in recent months- a movement that is callously concentrated on keeping women in their subordinate place.

First came the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. In this bill, speaker of the house John Boehner asserted that funding for abortions should only be provided to women who have been ‘forcibly raped’. With this phrasing, Boehner aspired to realign the definition of rape so that it fitted neatly with his own ideology. ‘Forcibly raped’ quite unsubtly suggests that women who don’t emerge from rape or sexual assault covered in bruises are somehow lying or disingenuous when they ask for help. It excludes victims of incest who are over 18. ‘Forcibly raped’ immediately eliminates those women who have been raped whilst drugged, raped whilst intoxicated, or manipulated and groomed.

Then, Congress voted to strip Planned Parenthood, America’s largest sexual and reproductive health provider of funding - effectively barring access to hundreds upon thousands of poor women across America who can’t afford healthcare.

Currently, South Dakota is considering a law that would determine abortion ‘justifiable homicide’- a crime punishable by death.

And now, Republican Rep. Bobby Franklin is campaigning to classify abortion as murder, and wants to put policy in place that would require hospitals to report all spontaneous miscarriages so that women can be investigated for abortion. He’s joined Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker in an all-out assault on abortion rights.

For too long now, the misconception that pro-choice means anti life has warped public debate about women’s reproductive rights. This mistaken logic leads to anti-choicers branding sexual health and abortion clinics as murder houses, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The same people campaigning to ban abortion are often those campaigning to restrict sex education, with the misguided belief that abstinence is the only way to curb teen pregnancy.  To assert that young women shouldn’t have sex if they don’t want to get pregnant is absurd. Take a look around at our hyper sexualised culture and you’ll notice one stark factor - the idea of pregnancy has been completely divorced from the concept of sex.

Educating young women about sex and relationships, as well as granting them access to contraception and the morning after pill are all key factors that are likely to reduce the rates of abortion.  Pro-choice means granting women the dignity to make their own decisions without governments interfering with and attempting to control their reproductive organs. Motherhood is glorious, but women aren’t baby machines. Much of the abortion debate has been fuelled by ideology; with those in government putting their own beliefs before the health and well-being of women in their own country. A recent US study found that 77% of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant.

It’s a funny paradox that the American republican right occupy themselves with. In the midst of all this passion to rescue potential life, they’ve forgotten actual life - the women having to make these difficult and devastating decisions. The women who own these bodies. In the middle of a recession, America’s republican men and women are more interested in policing women’s bodies instead of focusing on wider social, cultural and economic causes of a catastrophic financial crisis. It seems, in times of austerity, it’s easier to bully and belittle those with no power rather than address real issues. These false bastions of the family are currently channelling all their energy into making the world a harsher place for American women.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Zalika's Blog

You may know that EFC recently set up a Youth Advisory Group to make sure all the work we do remains youth-focused. Over the next few months we'll be asking members of the 'YAG' to produce blogs for us - here's the first one from Zalika on why she joined the group...

Hi my name’s Zalika, I joined EFC to help give young people the facts so they can make choices. My experience with sex education in school was basically a group of people coming in to school showing us a drama sketch or two of different situations that young people could be involved in involving sexual situations and then talking us through the different forms of contraception. Although there was a lot of information on contraception there was none on what would happen if the girl involved fell pregnant, where they could get help from, any information on abortion or adoption and hardly any on sexually transmitted diseases/ infections.

This is why I feel that it is important for groups like EFC to be involved in communities, not only to give young people the facts and to help them understand their choices should they be in any of those situations but also be a group that young people can turn to should they need to be put in the right direction for any other sexual health services. Joining EFC has been a good opportunity to get a clear understanding of abortion and overcome all the negative taboos surrounding this topic.

Monday 21 February 2011

Myth Busting Monday: 'No woman has an abortion casually'

This week we're borrowing another myth from the brilliant Scarleteen article How to (un)pPack for a Real Discussion About Abortion. Thanks again to Scarleteen for giving us permission to reproduce this extract. Go to their site for more information about sex, contraception, relationships and more:
Just as the case is with the great range of experiences with how a woman feels about abortion, so it is with the motivation for, or decision-making process with abortion. Some women DO have abortions in a way you or I – or even they – might call or see as “casual.” For some women, having an abortion is not a big deal, is not upsetting, is not something she feels carries a lot of weight for her. It should also be noted -- though this is not to say if a woman is "casual" about abortion it is only for this reason -- that certain developmental disabilities, addictions, traumatic life experiences or psychological conditions can cause a woman to give any number of things, like death, abuse or pregnancy, less gravity than others might give them or feel about them.

Having talked to a lot of women about their abortions, would I say there are many women who feel casually about abortion or take it lightly? No, I would not: in my experience, that’s the exception rather than the rule. In fact, I think we can go one step further and say few women feel casual about a pregnancy, period. But again, we have to be very careful not to deny any woman’s real experience, even if the reason we might be tempted to do so is in an effort to try and retain her/our rights.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Why does EFC recommend against inviting anti-abortion speakers into schools?

We’ve recently had a couple of teachers asking us to provide the ‘other’ side to a debate with a ‘pro-life’ (anti-abortion) speaker in their school. We tend to try and dissuade schools from taking this approach and here’s why...

It’s completely understandable that when tackling a subject like abortion teachers want to stimulate engaging debate and provide balance and interest by inviting in outside speakers. After all, the media habitually presents abortion as a ‘controversial’ topic, with ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ activists being pitted as opposing teams. Although here at EFC we agree that abortion can be an engaging topic through which to think about moral and religious beliefs, choice and rights we don’t think that pitching the issue in a debate format is necessarily the right way to go about this:

Pro-choice isn’t the ‘opposite’ of anti-abortion: Anti-abortion organisations think that abortion is unacceptable in any situation and would like to see the practice outlawed. The opposing view to this would be a pro-abortion stance – the view that abortion is always the right solution to unwanted pregnancy, which of course no organisation would advocate. The pro-choice viewpoint is inherently balanced as it respects each individual’s right to decide what’s best for them. EFC’s work is about equipping young people with the facts and encouraging them to make their own informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

A debate can be polarising: Unplanned pregnancy is a real life issue for many women (and their partners, friends and family) so it’s important that the topic is covered in a sensitive and informative manner. An abstract moral debate can simplify the issues and doesn’t necessarily help young people to acquire the attitudes, skills and knowledge they need to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Good abortion education can help young people think about the importance of safer sex and provide motivation for using contraception properly and consistently.

Where possible EFC will suggest teachers deliver a lesson on abortion themselves rather than invite in anti-abortion groups to speak to students (see resources below).  In our years of experience in abortion education we have found that these groups can offer material which is:

Stigmatising: A third of women in the UK will have an abortion in their lifetime.  This means that every student in that audience will know someone who has gone through or will go through this experience, and may go on to have an abortion themselves. Presenting an anti-abortion agenda, and in some cases, showing graphic images of aborted fetuses can lead to students being upset or distressed, and, crucially to the option of abortion being highly stigmatized by the speaker.

Factually incorrect: The presentations we've seen by anti-abortion groups in schools have all included at least one piece of misinformation (such as enforcing the myth that abortion leads to infertility or breast cancer). Some anti-abortion groups also oppose homosexuality, sex outside of marriage and certain forms of contraception – something which would surely be at odds with any kind of inclusive SRE policy and again, which can be disempowering and confusing for students. Abortion is a topic already cloaked by stigma and myths – school can be the one place children receive evidence-based reliable information - it’s vital that their right to good quality information is not dismissed in the interests of ‘holding a good debate’.

Persuasion not education: Anti-abortion speakers often come with a particular agenda – to convince young people that abortion is wrong. This can mean that open discussion of the facts and space to allow pupils to consider their own views and values is lost. RE teachers often want to invite a speaker to present a particular religious point of view on abortion, which can provide a valuable learning experience – unfortunately the main UK anti-abortion organisations claim to be non-religious and speak very little about religious views at all, meaning that again this educational aspect is lost.

Advice for teachers:
•    If you’re planning to invite an external speaker in to talk to young people about pregnancy and abortion do a bit of research. Check out their website and ask to see the materials they plan to use. Our Abortion Education Toolkit gives a list of things to look out for.
•    If in doubt teach the lesson yourself! Use reliable evidence-based sources of information like the RCOG and the Department of Health to ensure you have the facts.
•    Contact EFC for advice, information and resources – that’s what we’re here for! If you’re in London we may even be able to come in and deliver a workshop or presentation – just email

‘Shock Tactics’ article on the issue of anti-abortion speakers in schools, The Guardian 2008

Monday 14 February 2011

It's always best to have an abortion in a clinic

Every Monday EFC busts myths and takes names, cutting through the misinformation, disinformation, and straight up nonsense to bring you the facts. For today's Myth-Busting Monday, following a ruling on this issue in the High Court, we ask is it really better for women to have to make multiple clinic visits to have an Early Medical Abortion?

It may seem intuitive that a clinic is the best place for an Early Medical Abortion (EMA), but there is no medical evidence to support this. Given the lack of evidence for current EMA protocols, it is hard to see what benefit there is in forcing women to come into the clinic for the second part of their abortion medication unless a) we think women are too stupid to remember to take their medication at home or b) we think we should make the process as hard as possible for them. Like many sexual health organisations in the UK Education For Choice would like to see access to abortion made as straightforward as possible. Today's ruling was a lost opportunity to do this.

What was the court case all about?
When a woman has an Early Medical Abortion she requires two separate kinds of medication. The first, mifepristone, causes the lining of the womb to start to fall away. The second, taken 24-48 hours later, is called misoprostol. This medication causes the cervix to soften and stimulates contractions that accelerate and complete the process of miscarriage.

The protocol in the UK (because of the way in which the 1967 Abortion Act has been interpreted) is that women must return to the clinic for an additional visit 24-48 hours after taking the first medication and must take the second stage of the medication in the clinic.

Bpas – the independent abortion provider - took a case to the High Court to request a ruling that the wording of the Abortion Act could be interpreted in such a way that a woman having received the first part of the EMA treatment at the approved clinic could have the choice of taking the second part of her medication at home. The judgment, published today, did not support this new interpretation.

At home / in the clinic – what’s the difference?
For some women it may be preferable for her to take misoprostol and complete her abortion in a clinic, away from the responsibilities or lack of privacy she may experience at home. For women who are young, vulnerable or have additional health issues, having some professional care in a clinical setting may be more appropriate than going home.

For other women it is preferable to experience the completion of her abortion in the comfort of her own home, rather than on a hospital ward. This may be because she is just happier at home, because she has difficulty travelling to a clinic, because she has caring responsibilities at home that are hard to rearrange, or for any number of reasons. Women in the US, France and Sweden are routinely given the second part of their abortion medication to take at home and there is no evidence that they either forget to take the medication or that they find this experience unacceptable. For many women, a return visit (which, including consultations, may be her third or fourth visit) to a clinic is burdensome. They would be happy and able to take home the second part of the abortion medication and follow the instructions on the prescription as to when and how to take it – as people all over the country do with medication every day (even women apparently manage this process !).

Education For Choice and our colleagues in Voice for Choice ,the UK pro-choice coalition, think that once a woman has made the decision to have an abortion, the process should be as straightforward as possible for her. We do not believe there is any intrinsic benefit in requiring all women to return to a clinic to receive the second part of her medication. We would like women to have a choice as to whether they undergo the second part of their abortion on a ward with professionals on hand, or at home.

Is it safer to come back to the clinic for an abortion?
Those opposed to giving women misoprostol to take home often assume that it is safer for her to be given it in a clinical setting, but the latest evidence-based guidance on induced abortion from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists supports the provision of misoprostol at home. In 2007 the House of Commons Science and Technology committee scrutinising the Abortion Act, concluded that there was no reason regarding ‘safety, effectiveness, or patient acceptability’ that should prevent Parliament from allowing women to take the medication at home.

So what actually happens in UK clinics and does it provide any real benefits over letting the woman take the medication at home?

Depending on the clinic there are a range of different EMA protocols in place. The most common are:

Give the woman the pill/insert the pessary on the clinic premises, but allow her to leave immediately. The woman may feel this is a wasted journey, but at least she may be able to get home before the bleeding begins.

Give the woman the pill/insert the pessary and require that she stays on the premises for a set amount of time (normally based on the average time it takes to complete an early medical abortion). She may complete her abortion during this time and be discharged, or may be discharged before her abortion has taken place in which case – with every passing hour – the likelihood of the bleeding beginning on her journey home is increased. Women have reported beginning bleeding and cramping on public transport which is surely the worst case scenario.

Education For Choice and our colleagues in Voice for Choice the UK pro-choice coalition think that once a woman has made the decision to have an abortion, the process should be as straightforward as possible for her. We do not believe there is any intrinsic benefit in requiring all women to return to a clinic to receive the second part of her medication, but would like women to have a choice as to whether they undergo the second part of their abortion on a ward with professionals on hand, or at home.

In today’s ruling the judge made it clear that it is up to the Secretary of State for Health to define the places in which an abortion can take place, and that this definition can be informed by ‘changes in medical science’. He ruled that the Secretary of State has “the power to approve a wider range of place, including potentially the home, and the conditions on which such approval may be given relating to the particular medicine and the manner of its administration or use.” In the light of today’s ruling and all the evidence from countries where misoprostol is routinely taken at home, we hope that the Secretary of State for Health will approve ‘the home’ as a place in which abortion medication can be taken.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Letter to Channel Four re: sex shows

Education For Choice was pleased to be signatory to this letter asking Channel Four to rethink the way it commissions and makes shows about sex. We're part of a group of experts in sex education, sexual health, health promotion, and psycho sexual health who are up for supporting programmes that are informative, empowering, entertaining and positive about human sexuality and adolescent sexuality. We think Channel Four keeps missing a trick by focusing on the sensationalist at the expense of the informative. We're also worried that poor quality programme plays into the hands of the anti-sex education lobby. Here is the letter some of us have written to Channel Four asking for an expert panel to be put together to support quality programme making.

8 February 2011

Dear David Abraham

Cc: Sue Murphy, Andrew Jackson, Katy Boyd, Liam Humphreys, Kate Teckman, Dominique Walker

We are a group of professionals who are pro-sex education and accessible sexual and reproductive healthcare. We believe in accurate and open discussions about relationships and sex, and feel television can be an effective and powerful medium for sex education programmes that are entertaining as well as informative. 

For the past decade Channel 4 has been making programmes addressing sex and relationships issues for teens and adults including: The Sex Inspectors (2004), Orgasmatron/Body Shock (2005), The Dark Side of Modern Love (2005), Am I A Sex Addict (2007), The Sex Education Show (2008-present), and most recently The Joy of Teen Sex.  This clearly demonstrates a commitment on behalf of the Channel which we feel is important given how little coverage these topics receive. 

While these programmes may have attracted high viewing figures, they have been criticised by therapists, healthcare providers, and educators for portraying inaccurate or outdated and misleading representations of sex education, healthcare, clinical treatments and therapies.

Many of us have been approached to participate on these programmes, or publicise them to our colleagues/clients.  We have repeatedly shared our worries about the direction programmes appear to be taking, although have had little success in having those concerns heard.  

The recent series The Joy of Teen Sex has been even more problematic than previous similar shows, raising complaint and concern from sexual and reproductive healthcare staff, sex educators, youth workers, sex researchers, parents and young people.  In particular they have been worried by:

- the range of topics covered, which may not be representative of the needs/questions teens may have

- some of the skills and qualifications of the professionals used in the programme

- the advice given to programme participants which left little room for exploration, choice, and the right to refuse sexual activity that doesn't appeal to them

- misleading and/or factually incorrect information, and frequently used unreliable statistics to back up points made. For example the inaccurate claim made at the start of each programme that the average teen has had three sexual partners by the time they reach 16. In fact reputable research finds most teens have not had intercourse before they are 16.(1).

- little attention paid to communication, confidence, respect, romance, affection, closeness
- an overemphasis on sexual techniques and products 

- offering options that may not be realistic for viewers, particularly younger teens or those on a low income 

- valuing the 'televisual' over more relevant issues to young people - e.g. exploring vajazzling

- consistent muddling of key terms (e.g.  vagina used when vulva is meant), or using outdated terms such as 'hymen'

- inaccurate representation of what sex education is like, what sexual health services deliver, and how sex education and healthcare professionals should act. For example a medic making a client cry by showing her graphic images of STIs; telling young women to expect bleeding as part of losing virginity; or not making clear the difference between normal vaginal discharge and an STI

- mixed messages from programme makers in their casting calls to young people/parents, and what professionals being consulted for the series were told it would offer (see Appendices 1 and 2)

- an overall tone that encouraged teen blaming, slut shaming and homophobia, while perpetuating messages of hegemonic masculinities and narrow sexual norms

- not listening to numerous professional concerns during the development stage

- no awareness of, or respect for, cultural diversity

- producers of the show using twitter to promote the programme while simultaneously dismissing professional and parent complaints of the series, referring to anyone who questioned the series as ‘haters’  (see also Appendix 3) 

We are concerned the Commissioners and Channel Four have not shown due diligence over this series. It seems to be fitting a pattern of programme development where viewing figures are prioritised over empowerment but where programmes are still marketed as 'educational'.  It does not appear to fit with the Channel’s Public Service Remit or Corporate Responsibility.

We are worried misinformation about sexual and reproductive healthcare and education has been grossly misrepresented, leading to parents feeling anxious, young people's right to accurate information not being delivered, and professional advice being ignored at all stages of programme development. 

The right of young people to comprehensive sex and relationships education is still contested in this country. Many individuals and organizations oppose sex education on the grounds it will sexualise their children, claim it will not give accurate information, or will encourage sexual activity rather than encouraging thoughtful decision-making about relationships.  For this reason it is vital that any programme claiming to provide education about sex and sexuality does not provide fuel for these arguments.  Sadly we have seen reactions to The Joy of Teen Sex in public discussions and on places like twitter that indicate the programme is already being used as evidence of the 'failings' of sex education.
As a result we fear this style of programme making could lead to young people and adults not getting the sexual and relationships advice they need; making the job of healthcare providers, therapists, educators, parents and youth workers more difficult; and causing distress to young people and parents. We have been overwhelmed with emails from anxious teens and parents who support sex education, but are concerned about the messages of teenagers, sex, relationships and sexuality portrayed in this series.

Channel 4 clearly intends to continue making programmes about sex and relationships.  We are hoping as Channel Directors you will wish these future broadcasts to be accurate, entertaining and empowering.  To ensure this happens we are calling on Channel 4 to establish an advisory group made up of sexual and reproductive health practitioners, sex educators, youth workers, parents and young people to oversee the development of future programming and ensure that it is entertaining, accurate and empowering.  This idea is endorsed by Brook, the young people’s sexual health service.  All of the signatories below are happy to help you with this endeavor, and are now expecting you to listen to our concerns, and promise quality sex and relationships broadcasting in the future.  We look forward to hearing your response soon.

Petra Boynton PhD, Social Psychologist and Sex Researcher, University College London
Dr Stuart Flanagan, Genito Urinary Physician
Justin Hancock, Bish Training, trainer and consultant
Lisa Hallgarten, Director, Education For Choice
Wendy Savage MBBCh FRCOG MSc (Public Health) Hon DSc
Marge Berer, Editor, Reproductive Health Matters
Romance Academy - a nation-wide, holistic, relationships and sex education initiative
Dr. Meg Barker, Sex therapist and social psychologist, The Open University
Chris Ashford, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Sunderland
Alice Hoyle, Sex and Relationship Education Advisory Teacher
Alison Terry, Second year student, Applied Community and Youth Work Studies, University of Manchester
K. Barratt, Second year student, Applied Community and Youth Work Studies, University of Manchester
Becca Thompson, BSc MA COT
Steven Norris, Student Teacher
Clare Bale, RGN, BA (Hons),MPH, PhD Candidate, University of Sheffield
Dr. Lesley Hoggart, Principal Research Fellow, School of Health and Social Care University of Greenwich
Matthew Greenall, advisor on international HIV & sexual health programmes
David McQueen, International Speaker and Youth Advocate 
Janet Horrocks, Healthy Schools Project Officer
Joelle Brady, MSc, Researcher
David Evans, Researcher and Chief Executive SRE Project
Peter Bone, Chair of the Advisory Council, PSHE Association  

(1) Wellings, K, Nanchahal, K, Macdowall, W, McManus, S, Erens, B, Mercer, CH, Johnson, AM, Copas, AJ, Korovessis, C, Fenton, KA, Field, J Sexual behaviour in Britain: early heterosexual experience. Lancet, 2001: 358; 1843-1850


Example email correspondence from researchers on The Joy of Teen Sex, to professionals:
"We are in the early stages of shaping our series and are keen to talk to industry professionals, so we can get it right. I understand your concerns and I can reassure you that our aim is to make a thought-provoking and positive series that will look at relationships, emotions and identity as well as “the act of sex”."The Joy of Teen Sex will not be gratuitous, voyeuristic or salacious. Our aim, working alongside dedicated professionals, is to provide a platform for teenagers and parents to discuss the emotional, physical and psychological pressures young people face when they are seeking to forge loving relationships." 


Example of casting call information to recruit participants to the programme:
• How much is too much porn?
• Which STIs are untreatable?
• Are you still a virgin?
• How easy is it for a girl to orgasm?
We want to talk to teenagers, 16+ who need sex and relationship advice or who are keen to share their sex and relationship experiences.
We want to talk to teenagers and their parents who need sex & relationship advice from a team of professionals.
No issue is off limits.
Sex is the most important thing in a teenager’s life….and the biggest worry for their parents…
If you’re a parent, concerned about what your teenagers are getting up to in the bedroom, we want to hear from you.
• Do you think your teenager is addicted to porn?
• Do you think your teenager is sleeping around?
• Has your teenager told you they’re bi-sexual?
• Is your daughter a virgin, but you fear her boyfriend is pressuring her into having sex?
• What do you do when your son says he wants to have unprotected sex?
TV Production company betty are making a new Channel 4 series featuring frank and candid discussion of sexually aware teens.
(see other calls here and here 


Metro Newspaper’s account of Twitter remarks from one of the producers on The Joy of Teen Sex, made during and after episodes were aired 
(These have since been removed from twitter by said producer).

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Abortion Facts and Values, the EFC Approach

We’ve had some comments questioning the way we address abortion and faith issues, and how we define ‘the facts’ concerning abortion. This blog outlines EFC’s position and looks at how we approach these issues in our work with young people.

When brainstorming in our schools workshops it’s very common to hear words like ‘murder’ or ‘killing’ from students asked to identify terms they associate with abortion. This provides a great starting point for a discussion around facts and values. Students are able to identify words within the brainstorm which can be tied to factual information (for example, ‘time-limit’, ‘law’), and words which are debateable/subjective. An EFC facilitator would at this point make clear that although legally abortion is not considered murder, some people may hold this opinion. So, we can talk about the differing stages at which some people believe ‘life begins’ (be it conception, viability, birth etc. We can discuss different faith positions on abortion including those that prohibit abortion, and those that see it as the ‘lesser of two evils’ or prioritise the woman’s life and health over that of the fetus. We acknowledge a range of viewpoints and their origins while making clear that abortion is legally distinct from murder.

Similarly, when discussing Emergency Hormonal Contraception (aka the ‘morning after pill’) with young people we’d be clear to stress that in medical law Emergency Hormonal  Contraception (EHC) is not considered to be an abortion (see previous blog) This explanation is important, as students can conflate ‘the morning after pill’ and ‘the abortion pill’ thinking them to be the same thing. It’s important that they recognise in which circumstances these different medications are taken, what the process entails and what their purpose and effect is. Of course, part of this explanation involves acknowledging that some people, who believe that sacred life is present at the moment an egg is fertilised, or who believe that pregnancy is established before implantation, believe that EHC can end a pregnancy , and may not wish to take EHC.

Abortion education, whether in PSHE, RE or Citizenship lessons gives a great chance to open up some of these discussions around faith, belief and values which can be highly engaging and constructive for the young people involved. EFC welcomes exploration of different faith and value positions but cannot condone the misuse of facts/statistics to support a moral view. So, we think it’s valuable for a speaker to talk to students about why they feel abortion is inconsistent with their faith or moral framework but not acceptable to misinform students, for example telling them that abortion leads to breast cancer or infertility which is not true. By providing young people with medical and legal facts and giving them a chance to consider different moral and religious positions on abortion we hope that they will be able to come to their own informed opinions.

If you support our work providing evidence-based information to young people, please consider making a donation to our current education appeal.

Monday 7 February 2011

Myth Busting Monday - No Woman Wants to Have an Abortion

Each Monday we've been busting common myths about abortion. for the next few Mondays we're borrowing short extracts from a great article on the Scarleteen website called How to (un)pPack for a Real Discussion About Abortion We think Scarleteen is brilliant. Abortion is one of the many topics they cover spanning the whole range of issues relating to human sexuality. They address every issue with a rights-based, compassionate, evidence-based approach. If you haven't visited DO!
Thanks Scarleteen for giving us permission to reprint this extract from your article.

No woman wants to have an abortion
Many women, if not most, who choose an abortion want to have one. If a woman freely chooses abortion for herself, rather than being pressured or coerced into it, then an abortion is absolutely what she wants.

And let’s be real about that: women are pressured or coerced into all of the possible choices with a pregnancy with some frequency. Sometimes that pressure is direct, from family, partners, friends. Sometimes that also comes from communities, cultures, religions, politics. No matter WHAT choice a woman is making about her pregnancy, from a pro-choice perspective, pressure, coercion or force is absolutely unacceptable.

By all means, some women have pregnancies they do NOT want to terminate, where the last thing they want is an abortion, yet they still decide to terminate, usually based on very serious or grave circumstances. Some women feel that of the three choices available they don’t want to make any of those choices: but one has to be made, even if none of them are wanted.

There is a range in this: for some, abortion is an ideal choice, what is most wanted, full-stop and without any feelings of conflict. For others, neither abortion nor childbirth are wanted outcomes, but abortion is the more wanted choice and what seems best to that woman with her pregnancy. For many, feelings lie somewhere in between those two poles.