Abortion/Termination: Concerns and uncertainties
Just seeing the words “abortion" and "termination” may seem heavily loaded to you. You may have strong feelings about the terms. You may be experiencing very mixed emotions whilst reading this.
Abortion or termination – whichever word suits you better – is ultimately a very personal decision. Certainly, it is a life decision. You are deciding something that is likely to stay with you for all of your life. You are deciding on your life. For these reasons (and many more), this is a very contentious issue in our society and one which is not easily spoken about without strong feelings emerging.
This article will, therefore, focus on the key issues (facts and feelings) that are associated with abortion. It is aimed at women who are facing this decision or who have already undergone this procedure. It is written with the intention of throwing light on the issue and to provide some clarity for you. It is not going to give you an answer as to whether this is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ as nobody can decide this for you – only you can. This, therefore, is a major source of the stress and pressure surrounding this decision – that ultimately you are responsible for making this big decision.
Abortion or termination: What is the difference?
The only difference is your feelings. What comes to mind for you when you hear the word ‘abortion’? Some people find it a very harsh and cruel word as they think it has implications of murder or an uncaring disregard. Some people view it simply as a ‘clinical procedure’ and, therefore, it cannot be a term that is ‘sugar-coated’ to make it more palatable or ‘acceptable’.
This may be the view of someone who hasn’t had to make the decision and so they don’t have any personal feelings associated with it. Or it may be the view of someone who has had a termination/abortion and wants to refer to it in simple clinical terms, as this what feels more appropriate and comfortable for them.
On the other hand, some people prefer the word ‘termination’ as it has kinder implications or perhaps sounds less severe. Perhaps it is easier to say “I had a termination” than “I had an abortion”. What comes to mind for you? Either way, abortion or termination – it is the same thing.
What is an abortion?
By definition, an abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy.
It's worth noting that the decision to abort/terminate is not always a willful decision on the part of the person who is pregnant – sometimes it is due to medical reasons or genetic malfunctions. In these instances, an abortion/termination can have very different emotional and physiological implications for the person (and indeed the partner), as in such instances the baby may be wanted and planned for.
When this is not the case, the emotions and physical effects are not necessarily less traumatic, but because it is a planned action, the woman (or couple in some cases) will have different thoughts and feelings attached to the decision, because ultimately, they were making the decision for very different reasons.
Abortion is legal in England, Wales and Scotland up to 24 weeks. There are several types of procedures available depending on the stage of pregnancy and your personal preferences:
Options are available in later stages of pregnancy in very limited circumstances, for example, if the mother's life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability.
Where can I have an abortion?
There are many sources of advice and information available about the process of abortion/termination, including what's involved, care of the mother, and where it can be safely and legally carried out. In the first instance, your GP can offer you advice on this, or you can search for your local clinic.
Will it damage me physically?
There are many controversies surrounding this, however, according to the majority of research statistics, the chances of any physical damage to the patient are very minimal, due to the modern and sophisticated technology available. There are, however, always some risks associated with any physical procedures. Speak to your GP about any concerns, questions or worries you may have - it's OK to ask questions, it's important to be comfortable and fully understand the process and the information provided.
For more information about the process and potential risks, visit NHS.co.uk.
What if I regret having an abortion?
There may be a sense of guilt and sadness afterwards. This is certainly understandable, as it is very difficult to make such a big decision without having some doubts afterwards. Even if you don’t regret the decision, you may still have a complex mix of emotions running through your mind about it.
If you have someone to accompany you and/or support you during this time and after, it's a good idea to confide in them. Most clinics will offer some form of aftercare or post-abortion counselling too. There are also many counselling services and other agencies available to offer support to anyone who is struggling with their feelings in this regard.
Last but not least… when it comes to abortion/termination, the focus is primarily on women, and the partners are forgotten or not considered. Many partners suffer just as much as those who have undergone the procedure and may equally feel the need for help and support.
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