It’s Time to Speak Out About ‘The A Word’ – Will You Join Us?

// 14 October 2010

This is a guest post by Education For Choice, who were guest bloggers here at The F-Word in April 2010.

The A Word logoHere at Education For Choice we are wondering how to shore ourselves up against massive and imminent public sector spending cuts. So, last week we met with a professional fundraiser. She told us that if we wanted to get money from charitable trusts we should leave the word abortion out of our funding applications. She described it as ‘the A word’ and explained that ‘it puts people off’. We nearly fell off our seats. Talking about abortion is what we do. It’s 40 years since abortion was legalised in this country. More than a quarter of all women in the UK will have an abortion in their lifetime and still we’re being asked not to mention it.

It’s precisely because the word abortion ‘puts people off’ that EFC needs to exist and why we do not intend to stop talking about it. In fact we’ve decided to name our new campaign ‘The A Word’. We at EFC are here to say out loud that abortion is not a dirty word and that our young people have the right to evidence-based information. Young people should be given the opportunity to acknowledge how common abortion is and that it is safe and available, but also the chance to think about how and why it happens, how complex the decision to have an abortion can be, and how they can focus on preventing unwanted pregnancy in the first place.

With just 4 staff, EFC has to work efficiently on a small budget. Because we can’t reach every young person in every school, we also train professionals (such as teachers, school nurses, sexual health workers, and social workers) around the country to talk to young people about pregnancy decision-making in educational and healthcare settings. Every time we train a group of professionals, we learn about a local anti-choice organisation that is spreading lies and misinformation about abortion in local schools. These stories are coming from every town in England from Newcastle to Penzance.

Our ‘A Word’ campaign has one goal: to ensure that young people can receive accurate information and good quality education about abortion whoever they are and wherever they are. To achieve this we will:

  1. Continue providing our pregnancy decision-making and abortion education workshops in schools so that we can continue meeting young people, providing them with information, finding out what they need to know, and training professionals to provide them with the best possible education and support.
  2. Conduct an audit of what and how schools in England are teaching about abortion within Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and Religious Education to demonstrate the paucity of good quality abortion education.
  3. Campaign for comprehensive SRE that includes evidence-based information and discussion about abortion – with no opt outs for schools or parents.

We know that readers of The F Word believe in the right of all young people to have access to evidence-based information on abortion and a non-judgemental educational space in which to explore pregnancy decision-making. If you support ‘The A Word’ then please visit our Just Giving page and help us reach our goal of raising at least £50,000 by the end of December. Any amount from £1 and above is gratefully appreciated.

You can also support EFC and our work with young people and professionals by showing that you are not afraid of ‘The A Word’. We ask you to:

Visit our website to learn more about our work and read our blog. To discuss other ways of supporting us, or to find out more about how we will use your donation, email us at efc (at)

Comments From You

Gina // Posted 14 October 2010 at 2:38 pm

I suppose this will be looked on as nitpicking, but it should really be the ‘T’ word. Abortion is when a pregnancy ends spontaneously in a miscarriage for whatever reason, termination is when it is ended deliberately. Termination is so often referred to as abortion, and this is wrong.

For the rest…good post, and I totally agree.

kiwihelen // Posted 14 October 2010 at 6:14 pm

I’m glad to see the efforts of the EFC. Recently I had a young client who thought she was pregnant, and after a pause I decided I had to say “You do realise there are choices other than keeping this baby?” We had an open and frank conversation about choices and about her feelings about possibly being pregnant. I dispelled some of the myths.

It turned out she either wasn’t pregnant or she had an early miscarriage, but I was pleased when she showed up for her next appointment and showed me her implanon scar – she said to me “What you said made me really think – I need to make choices rather than have the decision about when to have kids left to chance.”

I’m glad I spoke up.

S // Posted 15 October 2010 at 2:32 am


Whether that is the clinical definition, I don’t know, but I work for the NHS in an admin role, and I regularly handle documentation relating to terminations. I’m no expert- I just pull it out of the fax machine and hand it on – but some of it does indeed use the term “abortion”. Termination is what we call the procedure when we deal with the public, as it is a softer term.

NHS Choices also uses the term:

So I think that both terms are in equal circulation…

Loplop // Posted 15 October 2010 at 11:33 am

I think the difference is really between an induced abortion and a spontaneous abortion, but this is kind of an aside!

Sarah // Posted 16 October 2010 at 6:14 pm

It’s awful to see the anti-abortion organisations spreading misinformation in schools. Fine for them to have an opinion on the moral right or wrongness of abortion (though I’m not sure state schools are the correct place for evangelising about religious moral positions) but why do they have to make up things like abortion causing breast cancer, or the non-existent ‘post-abortion syndrome’. Do they fear their position is too weak if they only tell the truth?

On a similar note of the disturbing things I’ve seen recently is adverts on the London underground for pregnancy counselling from ‘Life’, offering a supposedly impartial advice and listening service for women and girls with unplanned pregnancies. It’s fine for them to offer counselling and support for those who do want to continue their pregnancy, but shouldn’t they be up-front about the fact that they are an anti-abortion organisation and any information and advice they provide is going to be decidedly one-sided? Why do they feel they need to hide their true beliefs and what they stand for? Presumably they hope the woman doesn’t find out until it’s too late! I find this quite sinister and unpleasant, and it seems to be a recurring characteristic of the ‘pro-life’ movement that it operates with lies and deception (I suppose we should be grateful they’re not shooting doctors and blowing up clinics like in the US!) It’s good to see EFC offering evidence-based and non-judgemental information.

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