Stefania & Amarnah will research a piece of work that explores and expresses both of their experiences in and around abortion. The work aims to be a starting point for a considered yet candid conversation about how people experience abortion, to help destigmatize the topic and advocate for a future with stigma-free reproductive autonomy.
It was after a conversation about their experiences with abortion that Amarnah and Stefania realised: 1) their privileged position in accessing free abortion procedure, purely based on where they live in the world, and 2) that speaking about it was cathartic and extremely helpful with the healing process.
Despite the fact that abortion has been part of reproductive life since the beginning of time, and is accessible in many parts of the world, we are still conditioned by society to speak about abortion in secrecy, if we speak about it at all. Amarnah & Stefania started to question why, in the UK in 2022, we find ourselves in a position where there is a big discrepancy between the public opinion on abortion and the stigma around people that seek the procedure.
- –One in four women and people with wombs will experience abortion in their lives
- -In 2020 in England and Wales 210,860 abortions were reported
- –Nine in 10 UK adults now believe that women should be able to access abortion services in the UK
- –Six out of 10 (61%) of all unintended pregnancies, and 3 out of 10 (29%) of all pregnancies, end in induced abortion (WHO).
- –95% of people that had an abortion report that they made the right decision.
- –In 2018 Public Health England (PHE) asked the public about their experiences with reproductive health issues. Many told us of their desire for reproductive health problems to be normalised, destigmatised and openly discussed. When they need help, they want to know when and how to seek appropriate care, and to have confidence the care they receive will be managed and communicated well.
Yet despite the figures confirming across the board how common the procedure is and the support for pro-choice legislation, the societal reinforced taboo and shameful connotations associated with the practice, means that many still find it difficult to talk about their experiences, leaving them to face the procedure alone. This situation is then exacerbated by the anti-abortion groups that gather outside clinics with the sole aim of shaming people into continuing an unwanted pregnancy. The anti-abortion groups have created a cultural climate where talking openly about it is a liability that most people are unwilling to accept and are therefore forced into silence.
By talking about their experiences with friends and family, Stefania & Amarnah noticed how that has encouraged other people to share their own abortion stories with them — many said that was the first time they were talking about it with someone else and found relief in sharing. S&A therefore, decided they wanted to collaborate to create a piece of work that could offer solidarity for other people who experienced abortion and inform and educate who in the future might need one and their partners.
S&A believe in the importance of shining light on these issues that many feel ashamed to talk about. By giving voice and bringing context to the real and complex situations behind the statistics, this work wants to be a starting point for a considered yet candid conversation about abortion, while advocating for a future where women and pregnant people can exercise reproductive autonomy and are empowered to make their own decisions about pregnancy without external judgement or stigma. With Our Choice Amarnah & Stefania want to destroy the expectation of silence and hope to encourage people to talk about abortion in their own lives, at whatever volume and ways they chose.
S&A are aware that some stories and situations are more complex and painful — this work wants to be an ode to the pregnant people who don’t have a choice, in hope that things will change.
- Women on Web – a global nonprofit organisation which provides help and information on safe abortion in all countries were abortion is illegal or hard to access.
- Shout Your Abortion – a movement working to normalise abortion through art, media, and community events.
- Women’s Health Matters – Leeds based charity founded in 1987, which helps and supports disadvantaged women and girls so they may have a fair chance at a better life.