If someone tells you they’re considering having an abortion, it’s because they trust you
In the wake of Ireland’s historic decision to repeal the Eighth Amendment and legalise abortion, we were thinking about the role we can all play in supporting people who are considering ending a pregnancy.
After all, we want to be the most active and understanding friend or family member that we can be, right?!
Abortion has been legal in the UK since 1967, and chances are we’ll all know somebody who will have one or will considering having one. An estimated one in three women will have an abortion at some point in their lives.
So, in order to be the best supporters of that person as we can, here are some tips to navigate your role as an active bystander:
Don’t pass judgment. The person is considering an abortion. No matter how much they tell you, you’ll never know the full set of circumstances that they’re living with, or what’s happened in their life that has brought them to this point.
Keep checking in with them. Although abortions are a very safe procedure, that doesn’t make them easy, nor are they simple. They can take a serious toll on an individual’s body and mind.
So, while a one-off chat might allow you to play the role of a friendly ear or sounding board, don’t stop there. Instead, use this conversation as a springboard for ongoing support and keep checking in with them to see how they are.
Don’t jump in with your opinion on what that person should do. It’s their body and ultimately their decision. Even if you offer an ear and they choose not to accept it, remember that it will help them to know that you’re there if they need you.
Remember that it’s not your decision. It’s not your body, so it’s not your decision – it’s as simple as that. Your role is to support that person, not take the lead on an extremely important decision for them.
In order to find more information that may be more specific to the circumstances that you’re dealing with, you might need to do some of your own research too. So take some time to log on and look around. And remember that when you find it, don’t ram it down someone’s throat; instead, use it to help signpost them.
If you think a person may need professional support, here are some places they could go:
- Call the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) on 03457 30 40 30 from the UK or on +44 1789 508 211 from elsewhere
- Call National Unplanned Pregnancy Advsory Service (NUPAS) on 0333 004 6666 for help and advice
- Call Marie Stopes on 0345 300 8090 – or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Treat everything with confidentiality. There’s a reason that a person has chosen to confide in you about the fact that they’re considering having an abortion – it’s because they trust you. So, don’t break that confidentiality.
Abortion is more common than you might think. About a third of women in the UK will have an abortion by the time they are 45, and people from all walks of life have abortions every day for every reason imaginable.
Sometimes, even people who are against abortion might decide to have an abortion if they get pregnant and don’t want to be – and that’s OK too. The most important thing to remember is that everyone has the right to choose, and everyone has the right to confidential and safe medical treatment.