To encourage our supporters to respond to the government consultation on DIY/home abortions we continue with another interview with a medical professional to see what their concerns are surrounding the possibility of these ‘pills-by-post’ abortions becoming permanent. Any abortion is a traumatic experience but the thought of a woman or teenager consenting to this after having only a telephone call, with no scan or physical appointments, is deeply worrying. The apprehensions increase at the thought of the woman administering the pills herself, alone in her bedroom or bathroom and with no aftercare or follow-up appointments.

We were delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Julia Gibbons who is a midwife in the UK about this procedure. Julia has been practising midwifery for around 8 years. She spoke to us initially about what it’s like to be pregnant during lockdown: ‘I’ve noticed a general increase in anxiety in (pregnant) women‘ Julia told us, ‘This anxiety has been exacerbated by the fact that as midwives we’ve been asked to limit our face-to-face consultations as much as possible’. Julia went on to explain how these anxieties are particularly evident in first time mothers and even those with planned and much wanted pregnancies could be suffering with heightened anxiety because of the isolation and insecurities caused by the lockdown.

This led to Julia discussing how people can talk about it being something positive that with DIY/home abortions things can be sped along quicker, but in reality when many women are already feeling anxious and vulnerable (emotions which are common in pregnancy anyway due to hormonal changes but have increased during lockdown) the fact things are moving along quickly could be something negative as it’s not giving women time to think. ‘Telephone consultations are generally far quicker than face to face consultations’ Julia told us, ‘In face to face consultations you can pick up on certain body language or reactions to what you’ve said which you cannot pick up over the telephone.’ Julia went on to explain how there are certain side effects with the abortion pills but women may not know what is normal or abnormal. ‘Women can feel a burden or a nuisance’ she explained, and this may make them reluctant to call as psychologically they don’t feel that they should.

Another point that Julia discussed with us was the sensitive subject of what happens to the foetal remains during a DIY/home abortion. ‘A baby at 10 weeks is recognisable’ Julia told us ‘And I don’t think that many women are aware of that’.

Julia reminded us that when we are dealing with 10 week old babies they have distinguishable arms and legs. She explained that in a wanted pregnancy when a natural intrauterine death occurs it can be the midwife’s job to induce labour. They will ask the mother if she would like to see her baby and even though the woman has the support of family and a midwife, not many women want to see their child as that would be too traumatic. During a DIY abortion a woman may have no such choice. Even midwives can find this a difficult sight Julia explained;

‘As midwives it’s traumatic for us as well but we are used to seeing this as it’s our job’ but how does that experience sit with a teenage girl who’s alone in her bathroom?

Our discussion with Julia ended with her relating how ‘Being aware that the remains of the baby have been disposed of with dignity and in a suitable way can aid the healing of a woman following a loss.’ Of course with a DIY abortion this happens at home so it is most likely that the final and lasting memory a women or teenager may have of their child will be seeing it flushed down the toilet. ‘During DIY/home abortions not only will the child have not been disposed of properly but the woman will have witnessed that which could increase the trauma linked to the experience.’ Julia explained.

It seems clear from our discussion that when considering DIY abortions we need to think further than the physical procedure and consider the emotional and psychological wellbeing of women which may only come to light fully when we begin to hear testimonies from people who’ve been through these procedures themselves. Let’s respond to this consultation while we have the opportunity to have our say on ending the dangerous practice of home abortions. If we are silent then it is the young women of today who will be paying the price for years to come.

To watch the full video of Julia Gibbon’s discussion with March for Life UK on DIY abortions click below.

To respond to the government consultation on home abortions by Feb 26th 2001 click here

To watch a video made as a collaborative project by the pro-life movement on how to respond to the consultation (step-by-step instructions) click below

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