My Body My Life is a public engagement project, funded by the ESRC, that seeks to de-stigmatise abortion through abortion story-telling. Although one in three British women will have an abortion during their lifetime, terminating a pregnancy remains controversial and stigmatised. Many women who have an abortion will internalise that stigma, and experience isolation and shame as a result, and this may explain some of the negative aspects of women’s abortion experiences, such as why some wish to conceal it. My Body My Life challenges this stigma by bringing real stories of abortion into the open. These stories show how easily an unplanned pregnancy can become part of women’s lives, how different women have made their decision about having an abortion, and what the process was like for them. Our hope is that by creating a space in which anyone can share their story, the project will contribute to opening up conversations about real experiences of abortion – positive and negative – to enable us all to speak, to listen, and to understand without judgment.
On this website, visitors can read women’s stories of abortion in their own words. Originally collected as part of Open University (OU) research into women’s experiences of abortion, this research has grown into a broad public engagement project led by OU in collaboration with the University of Oxford. It now includes a website, a travelling multi-media exhibition and a booklet of abortion stories that is available at BPAS clinics across the country.
Members of the Reproduction, Sexualities and Sexual Health Research Group are working with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) to explore how we can use open distance learning to support the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education in different countries around the world. Initially we are working with IPPF and their member associations in India, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands to develop and evaluate distance learning resources around ‘hard to teach’ topics such as sexual citizenship and sexual pleasure. We anticipate that this one-year project will lead to a roll out of these approaches to other countries in the IPPF member network.
Peter Keogh and Rebecca Jones
In 1996, the introduction of highly effective anti-retroviral medications (ARVs) transformed the HIV field. These medications have now been repurposed for use in a range of ‘biomedical’ HIV prevention technologies such as treatment as prevention (TasP) and pre-exposure prophylaxes (PreP).
The rhetoric around pharmaceutical treatment and prevention is invariably optimistic and promissory and the history of this HIV since 1996 tends to be described in terms of a series of scientific breakthroughs and transformative moments in biomedicine, pharmacology and public health. For example, many have hailed pharmaceutical prevention possibilities era as ‘game-changing’, projecting an end to the global HIV epidemic by 2030. However, this success has not been absolute: globally, 60% of people with HIV are not on treatments and perceptions and experiences of ARVs remain highly contingent upon ethnicity, class, citizenship status, and other social stratifications.
Throughout this period, social researchers in the UK have been investigating the experiences of people living with HIV, those at risk for HIV and those working HIV clinical and community services. This is mostly applied qualitative research carried out to inform HIV service design. This work comprises a rich set of datasets which provide detailed insights into lives lived alongside ARVs across two decades. However, for the most part these datasets have remained under-utilised and have rarely been re-examined.
This project has identified, collated and carried out initial analysis of a sample of qualitative UK social science datasets. This has enabled us to explore more deeply the changing nature of engagement with ARVs over time. We seek to understand ARVS for treatment and prevention within social, political and structural context, paying particular attention to the increasing biomedicalisation of HIV and pharmaceuticalisation of public health. This work will invigorate and inform the UK social science research agenda on ARVS as prevention going forward, and lead to future research collaborations.
Collaborating agencies on the project include University of Glasgow, Sigma Research at the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Edinburgh University and The University of East London). Past funders for this project have included the Wellcome Trust and the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness.
The Alliance aims to facilitate academic, societal engagement and demonstrate economic impact. This is through a dynamic process in which young people with LLTCs, families, carers, academics and practitioners engage in dialogue. This not only has the potential to improve practice but also stimulate researchers to focus their attention on issues that are of major importance to young people, in this case, the sexuality of people with LLTCs.
Maddie Blackburn and Sarah Earle
The overall aim of the study is to understand and investigate the acceptability, or otherwise, of intrauterine contraception (the intrauterine system ‘IUS’ and the intrauterine device ‘IUD’) amongst women across the age range 18-49. It will also explore any barriers that can be identified by two groups of professionals: general practitioners, and practice nurses.
The study is funded by Bayer PLC, and is being undertaken by The Open University in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University.
The findings from this study can be found in the project document (pdf).
Lesley Hoggart and Victoria Newton
The study aims to explore the behavioural, social and service related factors that are associated with unintended and unwanted pregnancy amongst young women (under 25 years). The study uses a multi-stranded approach to investigate different aspects of young women’s experiences of one or more unintended pregnancies and abortion. Component 1 is an audit of UK abortion service provider Marie Stopes International (MSI) data over the past 5 years for clients aged 16-24 years. Component 2 involves a cross-sectional survey among MSI clients aged 16-24 years who have had an abortion for the first time, or a subsequent abortion. Component 3 is a longitudinal investigation using in-depth qualitative interviews with 40 to 60 young women who have had one or more abortions.
This research aims to review the existing literature in the field and conduct empirical work to understand why women with pre-existing diabetes do, or do not, access pre-conception care, focusing specifically on the factors that facilitate or discourage uptake. The research also aims to investigate the views of staff and stakeholders in this area to explore their views on existing and future provision of services.
The study is funded by, and being undertaken in collaboration with, Marie Stopes International. The reports from the study are below:
Lesley Hoggart and Victoria Newton