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The biggest, best or worst decision - Abortion stigma.

It's been a while. I've found myself caught in a runt of just not writing recently, for no other reason than 'I don't know what to write about.' I guess I just haven't known where to start. I haven't wanted to bombard everyone with more Covid-related blogs, but is anything else actually relevant right now?

Well, yes it seem abortion is still VERY relevant, and always will be so long as women continue to have them. Yesterday I read this article from The Sun, who I wouldn't usually quote as A* in being either progressive or accurate, but here we are!

I actually throughly enjoyed reading this piece, not only is it pretty positive but is also a huge milestone in portraying abortion. Within the article you can read about three women who have nothing else in common other than their abortions.

Throughout history abortion has been a controversial conversation to say the least. It has always been negatively painted and therefore stigmatised. I think we can all agree that this hostility towards abortion, and the women having them, is slowly turning. The tides are turning, yet even today it feels like 'pro-choice' is both vague and broad.

I still see the same old comments popping up that were over 50 years ago when the Abortion Act was first introduced. This is the opinion that a women's 'need' for an abortion has to have a 'good enough' reason. That some reasons for ending a pregnancy are more acceptable than others.

The three women who shared their stories all chose to have abortions for different reasons. I have always said that women do not choose to have abortions lightly, because they don't. Abortion is a necessary part of female healthcare - available, if and when you need. That's the key. The heart of abortion, and reproductive choice more widely, is that women need these services.

‘I was happily married – but wasn’t ready to have a baby’ - Ella, 28

For centuries we have been forcing this made up ideal onto each other. For women that has always been; get married, move in, have children. End of. This socially constructed idea of the perfect life just isn't true in reality. Life doesn't work that way. One, couples have more on their minds than children. Two, women aren't just baby making machines.

Ella tells her story, being happily married and at 28 definitely 'old enough' to start a family. The reason for her abortion? She didn't (and doesn't) want children.

'As I lay in bed, I couldn’t stop crying. Tomorrow I’d be in hospital ending a much wanted pregnancy. Tonight, all I could do was stroke my stomach in the dark' - Petra, 39

Petra and her husband longed for a second child. During their pregnancy they found out the baby she was carrying had a condition called exomphalos. While this isn't life-threatening, it is certainly life-limiting, with major surgeries and potential heart problems on the horizon.

They made the decision to terminated their pregnancy for their whole family. Themselves, the baby they were carrying, and their pre-existing 4 year old girl.

The discussions surrounding abortion and foetal anomaly are deep. I think whenever we hear about any abortion circumstance we make assumptions. We compare it to our own lives. One thing I hear far too often, from both sides, is suggestions that life-limiting conditions are not 'enough' to terminate a pregnancy. Speaking specifically about Down Syndrome, there are too many voices telling women and families how they would have managed in their situation.

Being pro-choice is not being pro-women who have abortions for reasons that you deem are enough. Just like, being anti-abortion is not being anti-abortions that again don't fit your narrative.

‘I was raped and too terrified to tell anyone the truth' - Hyacinth, 48

Hyacinth's story is probably the example I hear thrown around the most. She was 17 was raped and fell pregnant. She was so ashamed she didn't tell anyone that her pregnancy was a result of this.

We must remember that these are women, who have made possibly the biggest, best or worst decision of their life. These are not stories for you to use in example to attack others with. They are their lives. Their reality.

All of these women made the decision that was best for them, at that time and in that situation. We cannot compare our lives to theirs. We shouldn't compare our reasons for abortion to theirs.

As well as these long-standing social stigmas, women are still facing legal battles when accessing abortion care.

Last month the Government announced its decision to implement telemedical abortion services, which is now being carried our throughout the UK. This measure has been enforced due to the closure of clinics and services, as well as general fears of how women are accessing services during Covid-19.

The campaign for this change, fore-fronted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), has been a long time coming. Despite the use of abortion pills during recommended by all major health providers, the UK Government took time reviewing, reversing and then re-instating their decision.

This is a temporary measure. In England, Scotland and Wales abortion is still a crime within the 1967 Abortion Act, unless it meets the legal requirements.

Northern Ireland decriminalised abortion last month and are currently working on having their services up and running in a post-Corona world. Up until last month Northern Ireland have had no legally available abortion services ever, meaning women would seek illegal sources online or travel overseas.

Northern Ireland has never been progressive, but right now they're ahead of the rest of us.

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