March 2016

Talking about abortion!

Thank you to everyone who submitted their videos for our ‘Talking about abortion’ film! A youth volunteer at Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association – Dennis Glasgow – is the winner of the video competition and he will be attending the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen in May! We now have the final product to share with you – hope you all enjoy it!



‘Yo Decido Cuándo’, arming young people against stigma

by Marianne Forsey, youth intern at IPPF Central Office

This illustration, which was created by one of the young volunteers on the ‘Yo Decido Cuándo’ project in Spain, features on all of the publicity and information materials. The young woman stands strong and defiant in the face of the threatening tentacles. If the tentacles represent the many of branches of abortion stigma that young women face in Spain, then the sword represents the tools that they need in order to fight this stigma.spain logo

As education is a key tool for changing attitudes, the ‘Yo Decido Cuándo’ project has helped young people tackle abortion stigma by providing myth-busting and empowering education workshops. The young volunteers have facilitated over 50 sexuality education workshops and have offered a training programme for peer educators, as they believe that young people will be able to disseminate the information more widely and most effectively amongst their peers.

With a recent amendment to the Spanish abortion law which requires parental consent for 16-17 year olds, it seems that politicians are out of touch with young people. In order to get young people’s voices heard in the political sphere, the ‘Yo Decido Cuándo’ project asked young people to write messages to politicians on postcards stating what they want to change in relation to sexual and reproductive rights in Spain. Young people felt empowered to have the opportunity to express their opinions to politicians and the most common response was that they demanded better sexuality education. The volunteers took these postcards to meetings with political parties in the run up to elections in order to remind politicians of their duty to represent young people and listen to their demands. This branch of the project educated politicians on young people’s sexual and reproductive rights and enabled young people to participate in the political sphere.

Given that young women who seek an abortion in Spain can face stigma in many ways, ‘Yo Decido Cuándo’ decided to offer an accompaniment service to support those young women who might not be able to take a close friend or family member to their clinic appointments. The accompaniment service has allowed F.P.F.E’s young people’s centre and the local clinics to provide more integrated sexual health and abortion services for young people. As a result of this collaborative work, the young people’s centre is able to offer more personalised referrals to local clinics, and the clinics are able to refer young people back to the centre for further advice about contraception and any questions relating to sexuality. Young women are encouraged to take a follow up appointment with the young people’s centre in order to evaluate the services they received. This ensures that young women are supported at every point throughout their experience of the services and tackles the stigma surrounding abortion services.


“I urge you to put yourself in her shoes”

by Dyuti Krishnan, volunteer at the Family Planning Association of India

Abortion is completely legal in India. It has been legal since 1971, when the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed.

But if I asked people in India, ‘What’s the first thing that strikes you when you hear the word Abortion?’ I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard the words ‘killing’, ‘murdering’, ‘sin for unmarried people’, ‘female feticide’ and so on. Hopefully, some would say ‘rights’ or ‘self-choice’, or acknowledge that it is a common experience – kudos to them.

Many religious beliefs have implied that abortion is a sin and the very meaning is ‘killing a baby’. Well, let me tell you this. First of all, abortion does not mean ‘killing’ and second of all, it is not a ‘baby’. A woman carries a fetus during her pregnancy, not a ‘child’ or a ‘baby’. A fetus becomes a child or a ‘baby’ only when it has the ability to exist independently of the woman. When you look at a seed, you call it a seed, not a tree.

Abortion is a very common process. Regardless of whether people judge women who have an abortion or whether the laws in the country are made more stringent, women will still voluntarily terminate their pregnancy. It is her choice. You are no one to judge it because you don’t know her situation. I urge you to put yourself in her shoes. I urge you to respect her decision. If not respect, at least don’t criticize her. She has the right to her bodily integrity.

Dear Society, I urge you to stop judging a young woman who has had sex before marriage. If she can’t speak openly or access information she may choose to have an unsafe abortion, rather than access safe abortion care. So stop judging her and stop discriminating against her because she chose to have an abortion. Be a real human being by informing her and guiding her to a proper centre for abortion services because many women don’t know about the complications that can arise from an unsafe abortion.

We no longer live in a generation where abortion should even be a ‘stigma’.


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