I had begun to write an article about Elle Magazines #MoreWomen campaign. However, I became distracted by another hashtag that was gaining equal prominence and realised the two were intrinsically linked. I'd never really given abortion much thought before but #shoutyourabortion was so insightful and powerful I had to find out more. The hashtag encourages women to talk about their abortions in response to the campaign to close state-funded abortion clinics in the U.S. As a result, they have faced a barrage of abusive messages from pro-life campaigners.
#ShoutYourAbortion is the ultra-modern battle about an age-old score. The hashtag war between pro-choice and pro-life camps has been gathering pace. Unfortunately the #Shout Your Abortion the campaign was leapt upon by Pro-lifers, with retorts that make the EDL sound like The Intelligentsia.
With a lot of this happening in the States and not wanting to get drawn into the political battle that is going on across the pond between Congress and their call to cut funds to the Planned Parenthood Organization, I wondered, what is the state of affairs in the UK? What would happen if such a call was put out here? What is our system like?
According to Brook, the sexual health charity, 'About a third of women in the UK will have an abortion by the time they are 45'. So far we are lucky, we have the right to choose, we can have an abortion funded by the NHS, but the one thing that seems to be missing and what many comments on the UK parenting forums are about is a lack of aftercare, sure it's there if you look for it. It's thought that once you've had your (seemingly in particular medical abortion) the aftercare is non-existent. You pop the pills, and away you go. Don't travel, just go home and rest, have someone to stay with you and take a couple of days off work.
Fairly standard, but what happens when you are a working single mother? What if you can't just cease normal life, what if you don't have anyone around you?
Naomi is in her late thirties and a working single Mum of two.
"I was quite confident and unemotional about my abortion I knew what I wanted and why. It was my choice, and it was supported by my partner. I don't live with my partner, and as I already have two children, I have no desire to have anymore. I had a medical abortion (pills taken at a clinic, and then you are allowed to go home), It was straightforward, but for me the worst part was the isolation that you go through, you could have the most supportive partner and friends in the world unless they are with you every moment of the day when your hormones decide to kick in, you're done for. I chose not to tell people; I know too many people who wouldn't understand. My partner and my best friend were the exceptions. I feel no guilt, although I do feel it's important to mention you need to have someone with you. The thing I struggled with was just to have someone there who could hug me and tell me that everything would be ok, someone to talk it over with, not all the time but when I'm scared it's how I work, I push people away and tell them I'm okay when I'm really not. If you have someone, use them. As I found out support from the clinic wasn't offered unless it was in a medical situation."
Naomi's story mirrors many others that I have read about on various parenting forums, if this is the only complaint, we should count how lucky we are in this country to be able to have a termination through the NHS, and to be allowed to make the choice. It's 2015, the choice shouldn't be an issue.
However, over in Ireland right now, it's a very different story. You can be thrown into prison if you have an abortion, thankfully there is a campaign, spearheaded by Amnesty, calling for change. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/abortion-ireland-crime
Graham Linehan (Writer of Father Ted, The IT Crowd, and Black Books) and his wife Helen, have put their support behind the campaign. After their own tragic experience had led them to discover that had they been living in Ireland, Helen would have been imprisoned for 14 years or face carrying a baby full term that was destined to die just minutes after birth.
The need for change is clear for all to see. I hope that for women like Naomi, the UK centres continues to receive funding, the right to choose to have a termination stays available to all, women will no longer need to travel to another country for the procedure, and that abortion can finally become an uncensored word.
Just like Naomi's choice, it is a fine balance between doing the right thing as opposed to what is deemed to be the correct decision to make. It's time to think about what choice means to us as individuals, are we making a choice for ourselves or are the decisions that we make, choices that we have been conditioned into making?
'Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns' - Tara Brach