Women who've had abortions warn over law reform

From Morning Report, 8:46 am on 6 November 2018

As proposals to decriminalise abortion are underway, a group of women who have had abortions took out newspaper advertisements urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to be cautious about reform.

The ads were partly-funded by anti-abortion group Family First. Barbara Hill is one of the women. She talks to Susie Ferguson.

"It's not that we are anti-abortion as much as we wish to have an enquiry about the cost for women of having an abortion - the emotional cost."

She says when she had an abortion 41 years ago she did not have counselling, describing it as an "expedient process".

"I just stepped on the medical conveyor-belt and the next thing I was being offered an abortion."

She says in her work running a course for abortion recovery she has dealt with about 50 to 100 women. "All those women report the same thing - that there's usually no pre-decision counselling."

"I'm going on the experience of women who've had an abortion even six months ago."

Mrs Hill says she took part in the newspaper advertisement because she wants to see expanded choices for women.

"It's being treated as a medical issue but perhaps not as an emotional issue... We may have thought 40 years ago it was the removal of a cluster of cells, but I don't see women grieving over the loss of an appendix or tonsils, yet I see women sometimes grieving for decades, and that tells me they are suffering because it's been the loss of a child.

"I think we need to bring all points of view to the table and have a healthy, robust discussion about this... There are women like me who stay silent, and that's part of the problem - we don't actually openly express the fact there have been consequences in our life."