“In the last of the present series, Dr Mark Porter reports on the medical and psychological aspects of abortion. The programme won’t look at the moral, ethical or legal dilemmas that so often polarise opinion on this controversial subject. Instead it looks at the practicalities of a procedure that nearly 1000 women undergo every weekday throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland except in exceptional circumstances.
When the Abortion Act first came into force in 1967 just over 50,000 pregnancies were aborted in England and Wales in the following year. Today that figure is closer to 200,000. Mark speaks to Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – one of two principal charities who perform the majority of those abortions – to find out why so many more women are opting to have an abortion now.
He hears from John Spencer, a Consultant Gynaecologist who now works for Marie Stopes International, about the types of abortion performed. He explains how when he first started to work as a gynaecologist, many more abortions were carried out in the NHS. The majority of women will have a surgical abortion, but if the pregnancy is no more than nine weeks advanced, a medical abortion, induced by drugs, can sometimes be offered.
While recent advances may have reduced the impact physically, abortion can still exact a high toll psychologically – with up to one in five women reporting symptoms like flashbacks – like those reported in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We hear from two women who’ve been through the procedure: one who has just had the operation, and another who shares her thoughts on her experience of abortion, 30 years ago.”
You can listen to this programme or read the transcript here.