Can abortion be reimagined as an empowering rite of passage for the people experiencing it

What is the impact of doing so and how can it affect the way in which abortion is handled within our national health care system?

One-third of women in the UK will have an abortion before their 45th birthday’ (Hannah Thomson, Midwife Practitioner, British Pregnancy Advisory Service; and Maternity Advocate). This statistic is shocking, not because of the number of people having abortions, but because it exposes how very few people feel comfortable sharing their experiences. 

‘What occurs during childbirth teaches the woman about herself and about how her culture values motherhood’ (Reed, Reclaiming Birth as a Rite of Passage). This is as true for abortion as it is for childbirth– so what are people experiencing abortion learning about themselves and how their society values them? The stigma surrounding abortion poses a serious threat to the way in which people perceive themselves, their bodies, and their power. 

Our national healthcare system treats abortion as a one-point medical solution, neglecting to support the emotional and spiritual transformation of the person undergoing a termination (Zachi, Abortion Doula 

After researching rites of passage across cultures and religions, what has emerged is that a crucial aspect to making a successful passage is that it is necessary for the individuals undergoing the transformation to receive support and affirmation from their community. This is an aspect that is currently missing within our health care system as people are made to have to go through this transformation on their own or in secrecy for fear of being shamed.  

Could creating a community-led support group help individuals feel better held when going through an abortion? And together, can we empower people to celebrate their choice and their right to choose?

The initial stage of the project will see the creation of an intimate support group and the erection of a publicly visible online temple that will contain documentation of stories, observations and affirmations made by the group.