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Abortion and the GP experiment

Eddie Mair | 17:40 UK time, Wednesday, 5 December 2007

What has been your experience? What do you think?


  1. At 05:42 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Peej wrote:

    I've followed Nadine Dorries' views on abortion on her own blog, she has a genuine concern which I admire, but she's hardly impartial. I'd like to hear from the government to see if her understanding of how the scheme would work is the same as hers

  2. At 05:44 PM on 05 Dec 2007, cy wrote:

    The lady who had had 2 abortions said "I didn't feel I could give my child the life it deserved...."
    SO she gave it a death it didn't deserve!
    How does that make sense?

    Not only are they talking about making abortions even easier but also about lowering the age of consent, so making sex even more 'accessible' for ever younger children. What is going on in this country?

  3. At 05:49 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Philip T wrote:

    The interviewee didn't feel as if she could provide an adequate life for her child so decided, on his/her behalf, to end his/her existence; some life is better than no life in my opinion, and nobody has the right to decide who gets to live and who doesn't. Also her reason would appear to be a clear breach of the Abortion act which indicates that terminations may only be carried out on the basis of the physical or mental well-being of the mother.
    I find her behaviour desperately selfish.

  4. At 05:54 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Mike Kinna wrote:

    What wonderful sense from the MP, what utter garbage from the woman who has had two Abortions

  5. At 05:54 PM on 05 Dec 2007, jennifer mackenzie wrote:

    Have a friend who miscarried twice - both times sent home to take 'pill' and abort at home. This was from Leeds Maternity. So people already having unsupervised abortions;this lady is a Mental Health Nurse but even being a medical professional found this very hard to cope with especially as her 10 year old son walked in as one feotus came out.

  6. At 05:57 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Chris Lawson wrote:

    Regarding abortions being available at Doctor's surgeries.
    This sends out the message that it is acceptable to have an abortion and will certainly be used instead of contraception. We (Great Britain) have an appalling teenage pregnancy rate and our record for sexualy transmitted deseases is equally appalling.
    One of the contibutors had two abortions - why wasn't she questioned/asked her reasons for having two abortions? I think that abortion is too readily available now without making it freely available at your Doctor's surgery. Couples need to think beyond the "moment" and take proper precautions OR they should abstain.

  7. At 06:02 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Steve Williams wrote:

    I never find a vacuum works that well on a hard floor. The bristles at the front just seem to shove the dirt around really. A damp cloth is surely the best approach?

  8. At 06:04 PM on 05 Dec 2007, fiona duby wrote:

    Pregnancy prevention is number one priority with safe, legal abortion and family planning counselling and/or FP services available to women who need it. Early terminations using manual vacuum aspiration done by nurse midwives and paramedics in many developing countries and UK govt. financing much of this. Why so difficult to do in Britain? But, medical abortion best done with appropriate level of supervision and not for women left unattended and unsupported.

  9. At 06:05 PM on 05 Dec 2007, M.J. Jones wrote:

    Cy 5.44pm asks "what is going on in this country?" Well, Cy, it's called cultural Marxism and it's all part of a deliberate destruction of Western Christian culture. Look it up online and all will become clear. All those left leaning, liberal, flower power, make love not war groupie bird brains from the sixties have now grown up and occupy positions of power and authority, and they are the ones encouraging our present malaise, and continuing the destruction of those institutions which used to keep young people on the straight and narrow.
    As for the young woman who had not one, but two, abortions has she never heard of adoption? Someone, somewhere could have given her child the life it deserved. Abortions should be reserved for cases of severe foetal abnormality or risk to the mother's life.
    How ironic that we refuse to execute convicted killers (even child killers), but think nothing of killing unborn children.
    The right to life should be extended to the unborn child, except in the most restricted conditions.

  10. At 06:05 PM on 05 Dec 2007, sue cole wrote:

    Your last interviewee made the comment that girls would be sent home to cope with the after effects of a medical abortion at home by themselves. This is exactly what happens now when you are miscarrying.

    When you have a miscarriage you are sent to hospital for intrusive scans in an antenatal clinic (a miserable experience when you are losing your baby and in pain)Then you are sent home to deal with the after effects: loss of blood, pain and emotional shock from the loss.

    Both circumstances are equally sad and difficult to come to terms with but best done at home, with follow up care from GP, surely.

  11. At 06:07 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Harry Smith wrote:

    Your contributer Nadine Dorries painted a grim picture of the UK. 200,000 abortions a year europe's highest rates of many STDs but only mentioned "safe sex" as the option for young people. When is someone going to bite the bullet and say the sensible and obvious. Young people should not be indulging in promiscuous sex for their good and for the good of our society. We have thrown away Christian morality (because it was represive?) and replaced it with what? All the things mentioned by Ms Dorries plus broken homes ,single parents, problem children, breakdown of discipline, etc. Does anybody care?

    Harry Smith.

  12. At 06:10 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Lorna Smith wrote:

    Abortion is a solution for unwanted pregnancy.

    The problem is not abortion.

    The problem is unwanted pregnancy.

    The solution is eduction.

    The solution is support for the women most likely to have under-aged pregnancy or unwanted pregnancy.

    I've lived in Spain for three years and we should look to the Spanish system of community and family support to prevent unwanted and under-aged pregnancies.

    In Britain we have lost the plot.

  13. At 06:13 PM on 05 Dec 2007, KK wrote:

    So your interviewee thought abortion didn`t hurt anyone - only the tiny little life she was destroying!

  14. At 06:13 PM on 05 Dec 2007, CARL KENWRIGHT wrote:


  15. At 06:13 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Julie Hazelwood wrote:

    Women and Girls: If you are going to be sexually active, get your counselling first.

  16. At 06:16 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Christopher of Shropshire wrote:

    May I go back to the comment I posted earlier this afternoon (was it this comment which brought it into the programme? Probably not)

    I just wonder whether your guest wasn't just a tad overconfident that GP's would confine themselves to chemical abortions - and don't they sound horrific.

    There is a national trend towards bigger and better equipped doctors' practices offering a much wider range of services, diagnostic tests and facilities for minor surgery

    Is there not a danger therefore that, once the basic principle is hard wired into GP surgeries, these facilities will be used to surgical abortions?

    Surely the underlying purpose of GPs is to offer such treatment as they can from within their own resources and to ensure that their patients have the best possible access to all other forms of treatment they may require

    Elective abortion is not the treatment of a sickness, it is the termination of a healthy condition. The very antithesis of the role of a GP.

    It is not, as we heard this evening a simple procedure, it requires thought and decisions and after care. GPs do not have the resources to this.

    And yes, if GP surgeries do ever go down the path of using their minor surgery resources to undertake surgical abortion then, as sure as eggs is eggs, there will protests outside their surgeries.

    And what of all those other patients form whom abortion is abhorent? How comfortable will they be in the knowledge that it is being undertaken on the premises by their doctors.

    It's a bad idea Period

  17. At 06:17 PM on 05 Dec 2007, C L wrote:

    Six months ago I had an abortion, the process was traumatic and still upsets me. The 'set up' of the clinic seemed very insensitive; Women waiting to go into surgery were faced with women post-surgery in the same room. I received little if no advice and no offer of counselling. Groups of four women were sent into each stage of the process at the same time, the only compassion I received within the clinic was from one of these women, the staff seemed extremely dismissive of any emotional problems, fears or confusion.

    I cannot remember anyone telling me or warning me how much pain and swelling I would have in my breasts after the abortion.

    The guilt of choosing to have an abortion will always be with me but the way I was treated turned this already traumatic process into a living nightmare.

  18. At 06:28 PM on 05 Dec 2007, ann marie buscema wrote:

    we cannot begin this abortion at gp surgeries it would i think increase the number performed.we are already have the highest abortion rate in europe,and is used as contraception.abortion is not like goind to the dentist,and should not be treated as such.Ann

  19. At 06:29 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Sarah Vanstone wrote:

    I had an abortion in August 2007, which was at the Marie Stopes clinic, through my GP.

    Although it was inevitably an emotional and stressful time, the service I received was very good.

    I had the termination at six weeks, just two weeks after I found out. I think the earlier the better, for woman and for embryo. Two weeks of being pregnant was long enough for me. The emotional impact gets stronger with each day, and I cannot imagine what 24 weeks feels like.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone would use abortion as an alternative form of contraception.
    I find the suggestion that abortion is 'the easy option' quite offensive. It's not something anyone does lightly. All sorts of people get unwanted pregnancies, the educated and uneducated alike, and it's not always because people are careless.

    With me it happened because the condom broke, and the morning after pill didn't work. It's not an experience I'd want to repeat.

    Now I'm on the pill, and use condoms as back up - belt and braces taking no chances!.

    As far as the abortion itself is concerned - one thing I wasn't impressed with was the lack of accurate information regarding treatment. I was offered the abortion pill, which induces a miscarriage over 5 days, or surgical suction.

    I chose the surgery after a family friend and doctor mentioned to me that 10 per cent of all people who take the abortion pill end up being sick, and having to be admitted to A&E to have a general anyway.

    With the surgery option, the Marie Stopes clinic literature was worded in such a way as to push women not to have pain relief or sedation, during the op. They argued that the pain was minimal, and the recovery time would be quicker without any anaesthetic.

    The only reason I can think of that they would do this is to save money on the anaesthetist.

    My doctor had pre-warned me to make sure I had a sedation, which is what I did. As a result I remember little of what happened and the whole experience was fine. The extra information from my GP helped me get the right treatment.

    The selection of people i saw in the waiting room also dispelled my prejudices about the stereotypes of people who have abortions. They were all sorts of people; from my age (in the twenties) to forty year olds. We were all very different people having abortions for different reasons.

    The main thing I took away from the experience was that consequences still come with sex, despite all the contraceptive methods we now have available. I think more carefully about what having sex means, and whether I would want children with this person, before I sleep with them.

  20. At 06:37 PM on 05 Dec 2007, BellaB wrote:

    What a difference between the calm and reasonable persona of the woman who had two abortions compared with the heridion MP who shouted down the presenter and trotted out sound bites like a quick fire rifle. Notice as well the change of subject to teenage sex. Does this mean that adults cant have a treatment because of under age sex? If a doctor cannot decide who can have treatments and who not they should not be doctors.

  21. At 06:45 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Anne McCabe wrote:

    The first speaker spoke about 'abortion doing no one any physical harm'. I would suggest then that she has been extremely fortunate in her two terminations.

    I work on a post-abortion helpline and listen to many recount physical side effects, mental anguish and long term consequences.

    Of course, it is obvious to note that the little life within always suffers physical harm - its killed!

    Anne McCabe

  22. At 06:49 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Jane wrote:

    When will someone in a position of authority talk sense and marry the unwanted pregnancy with the couples desperate for children? Is is that hard to arrange for these teenage girls to be supported through a pregnancy on the understanding that the baby will be given up for adoption at birth. Of course there will be the 'human rights' lobby banging on about the birth mothers rights but they would have to forfeit those.
    Money spent on IVF programmes could be redirected into pregnancy support groups etc. the babies being adopted in areas away from their birth mothers.
    I was 8 weeks old when I was adopted and it has been the best thing ever!!

  23. At 07:41 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Stella wrote:

    It appears for impossible for people to consider both sides of the argument when it comes to abortion. And as always there are lots of stereotypes. Yes we do have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe but make no mistake most abortions are carried out on women in their 20's and 30's so this isn't just about underage sex.

    Yes there is contraception out there and the best thing would always be not to have an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. And in an ideal world if a woman didn't feel able to take on parenting at that time then she would have a supportive partner / maternal / paternal family that would take on this responsibility. How common is this in reality? Most women have to consider themselves as being the main carers and in such a situation think about how they will cope.

    Adoption would be a good option but there are many couples out there who don't want to adopt a child who is genetically not their own. If the 200,000 abortions that currently take place each year were converted into live births would the State really cope with having all these unwanted children brought into the care system to later be adopted?

    Our society also needs to look at how sexual images are portrayed to children at a younger and younger age. Children's clothing is designed so that girls look like little women and role models are often grown women who are singers / models who are pretty slim and wear scanty clothes. Small wonder then that both sexes but girls especially are desperate to be grown up and act in all ways like grown ups when they are too emotionally immature to cope. Peer pressure is also a huge issue. Parents certainly have their work cut out for them. The issues that lead to unwanted pregnancies are very complex and berating those who want abortions or restricting their access to services will not solve the problem

  24. At 08:05 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Colin Walls wrote:

    Why wasn't the woman who had two abortions asked for the reasons? Possibly for the same reasons that Nadine Dorries wasn't asked for hers?

    As I understand it these schemes are in pilot. It was interesting therefore to here Ms. Dorries condemn them beforehand.

  25. At 08:16 PM on 05 Dec 2007, CBM, Paisley wrote:

    When I heard about the proposal this morning, I had two main concerns: the first was the level of care that would be provided to women during this deeply unpleasant process (I won't forget coming home from school one day, aged 13, to find my mother miscarrying, waiting for the foetus to emerge - hideous); the second was that this would reduce terminations to the level of ingrowing toe nails in the perception of young women. I noticed that Ms Norrie articulated that idea too - if young women think that all they need to do is 'pop in to their GP for a quick pill and it's all over and done with', they are even less likely to take the necessary care over their sexual health and behaviour.

    Speaking of which, I always adopted the 'belt and braces approach'; the pill won't keep you free from STIs.

    I would have liked Eddie to challenge the first woman just a little more about why she needed two terminations: we all make mistakes, but I find it hard to imagine how someone who had already faced the trauma of termination, didn't make damned sure that never, ever would it happen again. Surely, under such circumstances, one deploys belt, braces (and elasticated waistbands for good measure) from then on?

  26. At 08:22 PM on 05 Dec 2007, A.S wrote:

    I am shocked at the number of anti abortionists commenting here. Was this the intent of the interviews?

    There undoubtedly needs to be more, and more appropriate, relationship and sex information and education for school age children and young people, but, as others have pointed out already, it is not always the young who need abortions.

    I was surprised to be shown into the maternity department when I was unfortunate enough to seek an abortion at the age of 40; how naive was that? My treatment was unfriendly and I was made to feel irresponsible and stupid. Several years later I am still appalled at the attitudes I encountered then, but even sadder and more concerned by the vociferousness of those who have the arrogance to condemn the decisions other people take in their lives.

    Everyone should be able to choose how to cope with the trials of their life without such judgement from others. It is often very hard to find sympathetic counsel, and when one is in turmoil and pain all the more vital.

  27. At 10:31 PM on 05 Dec 2007, sacrebleu wrote:

    I know this is obviously an extremely hard decision for the individuals concerned - but have you SEEN the annual abortion figures? If not, have a guess - go on, pick a number out of your head as to what you think it might reasonably be and then look it up on the internet.

  28. At 10:51 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Grandma That Was wrote:

    Whatever the morale case; whatever happens in the heat of the moment, whatever we are; most of us are human. As in many events in life, until one has experienced that event or has even been very close to it, informed comment is difficult. Until the debate was reopened tonight, my wounds were healing. I have cried a million tears for the grand child I lost this year. Make no mistake being sole witness to a clinical termination is not for the faint hearted. We were lucky to have wonderful hospital nursing support. The thought of GPs surgeries undertaking/sending patients home for this procedure is a non starter.

  29. At 11:19 PM on 05 Dec 2007, Dan Baker wrote:

    Despite a mutually agreed abortion eventually causing the break up of my first marriage, I still believe that abortion should be achoice that is freely available. It absolutely must however be accompanied by counselling and advice regarding the emotional fallout that can follow.

  30. At 12:26 AM on 06 Dec 2007, Christopher of Shropshire wrote:

    I really should not even be taking part in this debate because no one has yet been able to tell me at what point after its conception does an embryo become a child.

    And no one has yet told at what point after conception does a woman become a mother.

    But because I do not know the answer to those questions I can only imagine that for the vast proportion of women the decision to contemplate an abortion must be the beginning of an agonising journey. And she needs specialist and dedicated help right up to the very last moment and for some time after.

    Have any of the advocates of this procedure been to their local GP practice? Have any of them tried to get an appointment with the Doctor of their choice at short notice?

    Imagine some poor lass in distress and in need of help at that moment trying to get past the average GP's gate keeper, the receptionist.

    We are not talking about the morning after pill when the fertilised egg is still wandering around looking for somewhere to stay for the next nine months.

    So much of this discussion this evening has been about abortions. And it's right that we should never lose sight of what is happening out there. And no step is too great towards a reduction.

    But please that's not what this is about.

    If abortions are inevitable then the GP practice is the very last place that they should be undetaken

  31. At 01:42 AM on 06 Dec 2007, Tony of Yorkshire wrote:

    It doesn't take a genius to work out that this is not a good idea. The general practitioner is just that, general in nature and this sort of treatment should be left to the specialists who just deal with abortions on a day to day basis. They should know more about the treatment, results, etc etc built up by the experience of just doing that job. How long would it take to get all gp's experienced to that extent, it's not going to happen and problems will ensue.

    Of course it's probably some brainwave to cut NHS costs. As quoted from the statistics that a previous writer recommended, "In 2006 87% of abortions were funded by the NHS; of these, just over half (55%) took place in the independent sector under NHS contract". Perhaps they are trying to reduce the 55% costs at the expense of the wellbeing of the patients. Nearly 8000 were also non-residents incidentally!

    Sorry it's a bad idea generally I would have thought. I am not anti abortion but the comments from the woman who had had two were a bit too cool and disturbing. She is probably still traumatised mentally but has not realised it yet.

  32. At 12:34 PM on 06 Dec 2007, jess wrote:

    I am the woman who was interviewed on the programme last night and I must say it was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do was talk about my experiences. .

    I feel that allot of the people on this board are angry at me and you are entitled to your opinions but you do NOT know the circumstances behind my terminations. I also notice that allot of the negative comments are from MEN I will leave this comment but beleive me you dont KNOW what women go through when they have to experience something like this

    The 1st termination I was 16, and I was NOT in any state to bring a child into this world I regret the decision yes but I dont think the trauma of having a baby and having to give it up at that age would have been any better!

    My 2nd termination is also regrettable but my partner was abusive and an alcoholic and I was in danger of being seriously hurt.

    My mother has always supported what I did, and I know I made my decisions in good faith.

    Again I know this is a sensitive subject but I think as i said in my interview education is what is needed to help people not get to this stage.

  33. At 04:41 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Leeroy wrote:

    I am quite shocked by the lack of support given on these posts on this board to the interviewee.

    The UK has the second highest teenage birth rate in the developed world so surely the actions of the interviewee should be supported and not reacted to with such venom - and thats coming from a man!

    Surely it was the right decision for a child not to be born into a violent relationship where both mother and child would have been at serious risk?

    I am sure that the interviewee would have had some serious soul searching before having the abortions so some compassion should be given.

  34. At 05:29 PM on 06 Dec 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Thank you for that additional explanation, Jess. I did wonder whether there might perhaps be a little more to your story than the 'it's treated as just another contraceptive' notion that seems to sit behind so much anti-abortion comment.

    Congratulations on having had the guts to stand up and speak, and good wishes for you in future.

  35. At 04:19 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Tony of Yorkshire wrote:

    I do not think that Jess needs to justify why she had the abortions as each one should be personal and decided on its own merits. There are many reasons and I am sure it takes a great deal of thought, perhaps for weeks and weeks.
    Having read the other comments again it was only the first few that seemed anti-abortion and these types will always be the first to complain without giving it too much thought anyway.

    The point being is that, surely, as it is a very traumatic experience and is likely to affect the rest of the person's life, it should be discussed and carried out at a safe and supportive place that is specifically meant for this type of procedure. I would have thought that this place should NOT be a doctors surgery. It just brings the whole experience down to a base level as if the person is visiting for antibiotics for a common chest infection or a sore eye etc. ie like an ailment, but it's most certainly not, it must be a life changing experience I would have thought.

    The woman's age is irrelevant in this type of treatment as they all deserve a lot better than the local doctors surgery five minute appointment; 'just pop up to the chemist and take this prescription and just look after yourself when you get home' type of attitude.

    We need specialist units where the doctors and advisors are total experts, probably just attached to the maternity hospitals.

    There is a lot more compassion and support out there than people realise and I too would like to add my good wishes for your future, as the last comment.

  36. At 06:55 PM on 07 Dec 2007, Clare G wrote:

    It is no surprise that anti-choice lobbyists are keen to emphasise the dangers of abortion. However, I do find it surprising that pro-choice lobbyists don't combat this by emphasising the very real dangers of pregnancy. Diabetes, ecclampsia, hormonal disturbance, pregnancy induced hypertension - as well as the increased risk of miscarriage the larger a number of pregnancies a woman is subjected to (due to the obvious pressures on the cervix). This is ignoring the increased risk of infection and depression that can overtake one having given birth. These are very real dangers as the maternal mortality rate shows.

    This is one of the reasons that I am passionately pro-choice, believing as I do that as a female I should be able to make my own health choices and make the choices that are best for me. I am currently expecting my second child and have had one abortion - the fact that I could not economically support the child was a large factor in my decision. I find it gobsmacking that certain contributors on this board feel I should have given this first child up for adoption given the physical and mental stresses of pregnancy and its aftermath. It betrays an paternalistic attitude towards female bodies that is positively Victorian and smacks of the world that Atwood so scarily described in "The Handmaid's Tale".

  37. At 12:37 AM on 08 Dec 2007, Tony wrote:

    Clare - Interesting point; Doesn't Gilead already exist?!!

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