Access to Abortion - personal stories from the past and present

When it comes to reproductive health options, women in Canada today have it pretty good.  Abortion is legal, and in theory should be accessible to anyone who needs it; as well the abortion pill (mifepristone) is now available and in many parts of the country it is free.  Despite this, a woman or girl can still find it difficult to access an abortion: she may need to travel significant distances to reach the service, she may feel uncomfortable speaking to her doctor about how to access an abortion, or be afraid that her parents or her boyfriend or husband will find out.  Cost can be a barrier, especially if travel is involved, or if she needs to go to another province for her abortion.  And overlying all of this is the code of silence that surrounds abortion care - women don't speak about their needs or their experiences because they are ashamed, or are afraid of the judgement of people around them.  Silence is also a barrier.

Two new stories strive to break this last barrier down.  One of these is No Choice, a series of interviews by the documentarian Bill Moyers who spoke with women about their abortion experiences, in particular from a time when having an abortion was illegal and unsafe.  Often women put their lives at risk rather than carrying through with an unwanted or untenable pregnancy.  Check out

Another medium is the contemporary British drama "I told my mum I was going on an RE trip...", which has now been adapted for the small screen by BBC2.  Young girls share their experiences with trying to get an abortion in the UK, where the procedure is legal but women confront the same logistical and social barriers as they do in Canada.   All of the lines spoken by the actors are drawn from interviews with women and girls telling their own real abortion stories.  They reflect the confusion that young girls experience with an unwanted pregnancy, the struggle to wade through the misinformation, and to come to terms with their decision to seek an abortion in a way that they find acceptable.  "I told my mum..." is currently only available in the UK on BBC iPlayer.