Dr Lesley Hoggart, (OU) and Prof Sally Sheldon (Kent University)
This presentation will focus on the tensions between the legal and policy framework for abortion, and women’s abortion experiences, throughout the UK. First, we will report on a mixed methods study into different aspects of young women’s experiences (aged 16-24) of one or more unintended pregnancies ending in abortion in England and Wales. One key finding was that despite most abortions following contraceptive failures, women still internalised shame and blame. This reflects the continued stigmatisation of abortion. We then draw on a recently completed study of the home use of abortion pills in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere), highlighting some of the ways in which the current law fails either to prevent abortion or to protect women’s health. At a time when it is possible to end a pregnancy using pills that are readily available on line, it assesses some of the challenges for effective regulation and poses some fundamental questions regarding the need for legal reform.
Date of seminar: 16 November 2016.