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’ is a public engagement project that seeks to challenge this stigma around abortion 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 women (and men) can share their stories, 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.
Visitors to the exhibition have the opportunity to read abortion stories, watch video diaries, explore the abortion stories displayed in our clothing display, and, if they wish, contribute their own story in our swing-tag display. The exhibition is staffed with collaborators and volunteers who are able to discuss the project and abortion generally, and refer visitors to other services if needed.
These resources are outputs from our project "A mixed method investigation into the acceptability of intrauterine contraception, from the perspectives of women, GPs and Practice Nurses”, funded by Bayer PLC.
Practitioner training was identified as a barrier to IUC uptake in UK General Practice. Just under half (46.8%) of GPs, but only 8.2% of nurses reported being trained to fit. Lack of knowledge about IUC was cited as a barrier to fitting, and also to recommending IUC. Practitioners who were not trained to fit IUC were less likely to recommend it. To address this issue we are developing a 10 step ‘Aide Memoire’ to support IUC contraceptive consultations.
We also found that the concerns reported by never users of IUC were not adequately addressed in patient information leaflets. For example concerns about the longevity of the device, what happens to the device within the body, and misperceptions about the device were not addressed. In response we are developing a short animated film to address these concerns reported by never users in our study.
Both resources are being developed in consultation with practice partners.