Abortion is one of the most common procedures provided in the UK, and many people have a positive experience, well supported by caring health professionals. Abortion is widely discussed in the media, but rarely in ways that represent the relief and gratitude people often feel following abortion.
Abortion though, is all too often represented as something unusual or even shameful. This can stop people from receiving the support they may want or need or simply talking about and reflecting on their experiences whether positive or more complex and challenging.
We’re here to change that.
Our story starts with our co-founders, Lesley Hoggart and Jayne Kavanagh who had individually been exploring ways to create safe spaces for people to talk about abortion for years.
Jayne first started to think about the need for safe spaces for abortion providers to talk about the more challenging and emotional aspects of their work in 2012, when a friend and colleague was reported to the GMC following the Care Quality Commission ‘raid’ on abortion clinics. Her subsequent experiences facilitating workshops with abortion providers, Contraception providers and obstetrics and gynaecology trainees reinforced her belief that providers would benefit from a supportive space to talk about their work outside the clinical setting.
For Lesley, things began back in 2014 when she was interviewing women who’d had an abortion for a research project. At the end of the very first interview, she asked, ‘Why did you agree to do this interview?’ The participant told her that there was no-one else to talk to about her experiences – a response that was repeated several times during her study.
Between 2016 and 2019, Jayne worked with Lesley on the multimedia travelling exhibition My Body My Life, a community engagement project based on Lesley’s research. The exhibition highlighted the persistence of internalised abortion stigma in people who attended and reinforced the concern that although abortion is safe, accessible, and legal in the UK, it can be an isolating and stigmatising experience for some. Though many people would feel nothing but relief about their abortion, Lesley and Jayne and many others who are now Abortion Talk Trustees and Advisers felt they could do more for those that didn’t.
Jayne and Lesley were also profoundly influenced by INROADS (International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma). At an INROADS global gathering in 2020, they learnt about how in some countries where abortion is illegal, people are emotionally supported through and beyond abortion by feminist campaigning groups. This inspired them to try and provide similar supportive space in the UK.
Following conversations and work with other pro-choice, pro-voice advocates, Jayne and Lesley founded Abortion Talk in early 2021.
Created with the needs of both those who seek and provide abortion care in mind, we are a community committed to fighting stigma by ensuring people feel heard and valued and receive the support they want/need. We are Abortion Talk.