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Fighting for the Facts about Abortion

2010 December 1

Photo: banana, picture from morguefile.comHands up everyone who had crappy sex education at school. You know – where you learnt about the tubes and the hormones, watched a video of someone giving birth and then a teacher put a condom on a banana and you were sent on your way. Maybe they also told you to wait til you were married, or you were 21, whichever came first. Hands up – yes, I thought so.

Mine was pretty similar (aside from one teacher telling us that an orgasm was like a really good sneeze… no, I don’t know either). Relationships and feelings and other relevant things weren’t discussed, and neither was abortion, despite the girl I sat next to in design tech having had one just the year before.

The A Word

In a way, I am relieved. Because I have seen some of the materials used to discuss abortion in schools all over the country, and they make my blood run cold. Most of it is little better than anti-choice propaganda, and much of it is simply untrue. Abortion makes you infertile, abortion gives you breast cancer… These lies are imparted to young people at the hands of abortion ‘experts’ who are invited into schools, often by well-meaning teachers desperate for guidance on how best to handle ‘the A word’. Young people deserve better than this.

The problem goes far deeper than the curriculum, of course. Abortion happens, whether it is legal or not, safe or not, all over the world. Globally, about 1 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion (some global and local stats). Reluctance to discuss abortion openly and truthfully in the media and in popular culture is doing untold damage to individuals and to women’s precious right to choose. How are teachers and youth workers meant to offer unbiased information and support if they themselves have never had the chance to have an open discussion? To hear the facts?

Secrets and lies

Refusing to tackle the subject of abortion allows stigma to flourish, putting young people facing unplanned pregnancy in a position where they may not even feel able to ask for help. Scaring young women into carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term benefits no one.

But no matter, right? There’s plenty of information freely available, and countless support and counselling services. So here’s a fun game: why not google ‘pregnancy counselling’ and let me know how many of those first page results you reckon are really offering unbiased information? If you find any really choice quotes please comment and share!

Freedom to choose

I’m not assuming all BadRep’s readers are pro-choice, but I’m sure there are some of you. Perhaps, like me, you’ve waved a placard or shouted into a megaphone for a woman’s right to choose and to control her own body.

Standing up for safe, legal abortion is vital, as there are plenty of people who will take any opportunity they can to turn the clock back on reproductive freedom. Some of them are sitting in Westminster right now, deciding your future. (That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?)

But the war is also being waged quietly and efficiently on another front, in our classrooms and in a host of so-called counselling clinics. It’s up to us to expose the propagandists and arm young people with the facts so that they can make their own decisions.

Education for Choice Logo

Yes! But how?

Well… *puts on charity trustee hat* Education for Choice are the first line of defence. They are the only UK-based educational charity dedicated to enabling young people to make informed choices about pregnancy and abortion.

With their mighty army of four staff they do heroic battle against the forces of misinformation on a shoestring budget. Times are hard for everyone right now, but in order for EFC to continue working in schools, with youth workers and health professionals, they urgently need your help.


Help EFC put abortion in the spotlight and make sure that young people’s right to unbiased information is at the top of the agenda.

What else can I do?

  • Teach PSHE or know someone who does? Check out these resources.
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