Marie Stopes International – a leading global sexual and reproductive healthcare charity – is today launching a campaign to #SmashAbortionStigma as it reveals that just one in three women (33%) in the UK would tell their family if they were considering getting an abortion.
The new research, commissioned by the charity and conducted by YouGov, also reveals that only one in three women (34%)[viii] would speak to their friends about their choice and just 62%[ix] of women would tell their sexual partner.
Sadly, 6%[x] of women disclosed that they would not to talk to anyone, aside from a medical professional, if they were considering getting an abortion.
The study shines a spotlight on women’s attitudes to abortion in the UK, where despite more than nine in ten women (92%)[xi] identifying as pro-choice, on-going abortion stigma means there is still a wall of silence around the topic.
Emily, had an abortion while at university:
“I’d taken emergency contraception, but it wasn’t effective, so when I found out I was pregnant it was a complete shock.
“I knew straight away that I was not in the right circumstances emotionally or financially to continue with a pregnancy, and although I have a good relationship with my family, having an abortion wasn’t something I felt I could speak to them about.
“I eventually told my mum six months later. I didn’t regret my decision, but my body had been through a lot of changes and not being able to talk about my experience was scary and isolating.”
“The first thing she said was “I hope you haven’t told anyone”. This reaction affirmed why I didn’t want to tell her, I didn’t feel supported at all and it was very painful experience.”
79%[xii] of women, however, think abortion should be talked about more openly. Top reasons include: to help women feel more supported (76%)[xiii] to increase understanding around abortion (75%)[xiv] and to reduce stigma around abortion (67%)[xv].
Through the launch of its new campaign - #SmashAbortionStigma - Marie Stopes International is addressing this need for open conversation by calling on people to break the silence around abortion. The charity is encouraging people to get involved by sharing their stories on social media using the hashtag or by recording a short video explaining why they are pro-choice.
The campaign aims to counteract negative attitudes towards women seeking abortion care, to amplify the support that already exists for women and choice both in the UK and worldwide, and to bring abortion to the forefront of everyday conversations – it is supported by a number of high-profile figures including Heidi Allen MP, novelist Marian Keyes and Derry Girls actress, Siobhan McSweeney.
#SmashAbortionStigma also aims to bust abortion myths, something nearly half (49%)[xvi] of women feel talking about abortion more openly would do.
Dr Caroline Gazet, Clinical Director for Marie Stopes UK, said:
“In the UK, one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, yet we know that abortion stigma can make women feel judged, shamed and silenced.
“Women want to talk, and our research shows that open and honest conversations about abortion help women and girls feel informed, educated and supported when it comes to making their own choices about their own bodies.
“The UK is a pro-choice nation, but with a small minority of anti-choice voices threatening abortion rights worldwide, it is more important than ever that we smash abortion stigma and champion the right of women to access abortion care.”
Join the movement on social media or at www.mariestopes.org/smashabortionstigma.
For interviews and further information please contact:
Tel: 020 7034 2377 / 020 3219 8245 or 07769 166 516 (out of hours)
i. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,684 UK women (18+). Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 25th September 2019. The survey was carried out online. Respondents were asked: Imagine you were in a scenario where you were considering getting an abortion. Of the following, who do you think you would talk to about it?
v. YouGov Plc. (2019) Respondents were asked: In general, do you think women should or should not be able to access abortion services in the UK?
vi. YouGov Plc. (2019) Respondents were asked: Thinking about the topic of abortions in general, do you think it should or should not be talked about more openly?
vii. YouGov Plc. (2019) Respondents were asked: Imagine you were in a scenario where you were considering getting an abortion. Of the following, who do you think you would talk to about it?
xi. YouGov Plc. (2019) Respondents were asked: In general, do you think women should or should not be able to access abortion services in the UK?
xii. YouGov Plc. (2019) Respondents were asked: Thinking about the topic of abortions in general, do you think it should or should not be talked about more openly?
xiii. YouGov Plc. (2019) Respondents were asked: You said abortions should be talked about more openly, why do you think this? (Please tick all that apply)