Abortion - the full story

Abortion: The full story

By Charlotte Fantelli

Abortion: a subject so taboo and controversial that it is only spoken about in a whispered hush, the only loud voices seeming to come from those with agendas of their own.

Many activists put political, religious and moral debate of higher importance than the real and disturbing facts of the situation. Lives of mothers, fathers and children are being hurt by lack of information, counselling and support, before, during and after an unexpected pregnancy (whatever choice one makes).

One in three

With one in three women admitting to having an abortion by the age of 45, we believe it is about time that the whole picture of abortion was discussed. Mental Healthy has teamed up with CareConfidential, a charity which provides unbiased pregnancy and abortion counselling, to bring you a complete picture of the choices available to those who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy, and the physical and psychological repercussions of those options. 

This feature was originally published in Uncovered Magazine issue 3

The debate

When it comes to this topic, emotions run very high, whatever side of the fence you sit, whether it is pro-choice or pro-life (although these terms seem very much overused and little-understood!) There seem to be inflamed, impassioned arguments sprouting up all over the place, (just look at Twitter to find some disturbing conversations) with little factual or beneficial information being given.
We are not here to argue, to moralise or demoralise; we are here to discuss, to educate and to understand. After all, at Mental Healthy we are passionate about education and better understanding – without these there is no informed choice at all. 

What is elective abortion?

Women may face the decision to terminate a pregnancy for many reasons; a small percentage will consider this for medical reasons, or perhaps because of a rape or abuse. Most who opt for an abortion do so due to personal circumstances, this is called an ‘elective’ abortion and is what we mainly discuss in this feature.  

Abortion figures

We live in a country where access to contraception is incredible and in most instances free. However, even with increased access to family planning services, contraception and information, abortion had steadily risen over the last decade.
There were 189,100 abortions in England and Wales in 2009 – that is the equivalent of 518 abortions being performed every day, so we have to ask ourselves: why?
Is it, as the pro-choice activists would have us believe, because as it becomes less and less stigmatised women are exercising their right to have this procedure? Or is it, as the pro-lifers would have us believe, that the value put on life is slipping, and, as access grows, moral standards decline and it becomes more socially acceptable, with more and more pregnancies terminated?
In reality, I expect both could be considered true reasons for the increase. Finding yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy is scary, and the quicker you can get help and support the better.
Medical advances and English law make it very easy for a woman to have a ‘quick’ abortion. However abortion is rarely an easy choice to make, and the ‘quick’ availability can leave little time for proper counselling. 

The women behind the numbers

Many women are given numbers and sent to clinics, and while this suits some women whose minds are made up and whose decisions are their own, others are suffering as we lose the human stories behind these numbers. So what is going wrong in our culture that means so many women find themselves in this position?
Perhaps we live in such a privileged culture that our self-satisfying actions rarely have the consequences they once did? Perhaps we should all be happy we live in the ‘live now, fix it later’ era that is the 21st century – who doesn’t enjoy parties, sex and a bit of excess? But the scary thing is that mental health problems have never been so widespread; depression, crime and drug abuse all keep rising, so does this show a society happy with its actions? 
Of those who do have an abortion, a significant number suffer emotional, psychological and mental health issues afterwards (please see our following feature on post-abortion stress). 
Even if a woman doesn’t regret terminating a pregnancy, I’d expect nearly all women have some regret at putting themselves in the position of having to make that choice. A great quote to this effect is: ‘No woman wants an abortion.  Either she wants a child or she wishes to avoid pregnancy’. Of course it is not always that black and white. 
I am one of those 1 in 3 women 'behind the numbers'. Researching and writing this article has been extremely hard for me, as it was the biggest regret of my life, and one of the reasons why my mental health suffered, which in turn led to the creation of this Uncovered Magazine and in turn Mental Healthy.
I am not here to preach, far from it; my personal experience is just that, one experience, and what I went through does not give me the right to decide anyone else’s fate, but what it does give me is knowledge of the complete lack of support that was offered to me when I was faced with a very scary situation.
This is why in writing this I have fought long and hard to bring facts and balance, searched many websites, books and organisations to find out how we can, as a society, better equip people to avoid finding themselves in this situation.


While abortion gives many mothers and fathers a way out, it is far better to practise safe sex until a time you choose to become parents. We often associate unplanned pregnancy with the young and we can be quick to blame poor sex education. 

A sobering fact to consider is that abortions among older women are consistently high, with more abortions taking place in those over 30 than in those under 20. This goes to prove that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re never to old to learn more about available contraception please see up to the minute information on contraception here. 

The only healthy way to protect body and mind is to be informed from a young age that sex can be wonderful, enjoyable and most of all safe.

Pregnancy too can be a fantastic blessing, if and when it is wanted. Your contraceptive choices need to be made, and your own views evaluated, before you find yourself with your back very much up against the wall. We hope the following pages of information can help you do just this.

We believe that there needs to be better contraceptive and sex education before pregnancy, and better counselling and support for those considering an abortion.

Crisis pregnancy help

CareConfidential Helpline
Impartial and confidential: 
0800 028 2228

Abortion information

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