Empowering Women to Access Abortion Care without Stigma | Abigail, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service for the #ItStillTakesAVillageBlogSeries

Welcome to the latest addition to the It Still Takes a Village – Working in Baby Loss Interview Series where we take a closer look at those who dedicate their day to day to preventing baby loss and supporting those affected. You can read more interviews, here.

One subject that is slowly getting more shared about is termination of pregnancy. On the many sides of the coin that there is to this topic, there is a lot happening – whether its awareness, debate, improved care, or even public votes on the matter across the world. Whatever the circumstances, people still sit at the centre of it all – whether its the family involved, or those caring for them. I was really pleased to be approached by Abigail with this submission, as with everything I do, I try and seek diversity and inclusion as much as possible. Meet Abigail…

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So, to start us off, please can you let us know a little about your current role?

I am a midwife, and I have worked for BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) providing abortion care for five years. I look after women who are ending pregnancies for a variety of reasons. I have had lots of experience of looking after women and their families who have chosen to end a pregnancy due to an antenatal diagnosis. These women may have been offered late medical terminations via the NHS but feel unable to cope with the trauma that they associate with that. 

 

“If women feel they have experienced substandard care or not been treated with respect, there seems to be precious little external support available.”

 

What are you currently working on? Is there a particular project or aim that you’d like to share with people.

There are a few things that I am focusing on, the most obvious being encouraging and empowering women to access abortion care without stigma. This is a long journey, but there are certainly steps to progress being made! On a day to day basis, my primary focus is purely to ensure that any woman accessing our service is provided with the highest possible quality of care and support, with non judgemental and evidence based information to enable her to name an informed choice about her future. 

 

What motivated you to do the job/role that you are doing now?

I love my job. I am so proud to work within a setting that radiates respect and empowerment (a recent visiting student midwife said our clinic was “the most women centred place” she had ever been). My personal motivation comes from an understanding of the importance of receiving the best possible care in times of emotional and physical pain. 

 

“No matter what the reason for ending a pregnancy, the way you are made to feel at the time is likely to stay with you forever, we must get it right.”

 

In what ways does your current job/role allow you to get involved in the baby loss cause?

We encourage women to talk about their births, it is widely acknowledged that to share your positive birth story is empowering both to you and the people you share it with. Likewise, after a traumatic birth or loss debriefing and counselling are encouraged. Where can women go to talk about their abortion? If women feel they have experienced substandard care or not been treated with respect, there seems to be precious little external support available. Therefore, I believe that it is vitally important to get this area of care provision right, ensuring that women and their support networks (should they have them) receive the very highest quality of care from the outset. No matter what the reason for ending a pregnancy, the way you are made to feel at the time is likely to stay with you forever, we must get it right. 

 

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Who else do you work alongside in terms of baby loss support or prevention? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague/volunteer that you couldn’t manage without? 

I work closely with many screening midwives, counsellors and I often recommend ARC and SANDS to the couples I look after. 

 

Do you think that Baby Loss is still a taboo, and if so, why? Do you encounter issues with it being a taboo in your day to day work?

I think that social media has been an amazing tool in increasing awareness and openness for discussions around baby loss. There is clearly still work to be done, but I feel the direction is generally positive. Here at BPAS, the biggest aspect we encounter is protestors, who can set up outside clinic and target women and families at such a vulnerable time of their lives. Women who are often already upset, or feeling guilty, can find the presence of these strangers most disturbing, and it only serves to make a difficult day even harder. Families who have made decisions about their pregnancy due an antenatal diagnosis often feel that the protestors have no understanding or compassion for their personal plight, and enter the clinic even more distraught than they already were.

Our team endeavours to support every woman who accesses the service in the same way, but we are acutely aware that often those who are terminating pregnancies after a diagnosis of foetal abnormality require a different approach, and we aspire to understand their individual circumstances, and deliver the client centred care they deserve.

 

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

I am proud to say that I support women and their families throughout these times in their lives, and I know that all my colleagues feel the same way.

 

You can find out more about BPAS here

Website | Twitter | Facebook


 

it takes a village

This blog post is part of an ongoing spotlight on those working in baby loss. To read more from It Still Takes a Village series, visit the hub page here.

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