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This is a guest post by Education For Choice, who were guest bloggers here at The F-Word in April 2010.

The A Word logoHere at Education For Choice we are wondering how to shore ourselves up against massive and imminent public sector spending cuts. So, last week we met with a professional fundraiser. She told us that if we wanted to get money from charitable trusts we should leave the word abortion out of our funding applications. She described it as ‘the A word’ and explained that ‘it puts people off’. We nearly fell off our seats. Talking about abortion is what we do. It’s 40 years since abortion was legalised in this country. More than a quarter of all women in the UK will have an abortion in their lifetime and still we’re being asked not to mention it.

It’s precisely because the word abortion ‘puts people off’ that EFC needs to exist and why we do not intend to stop talking about it. In fact we’ve decided to name our new campaign ‘The A Word’. We at EFC are here to say out loud that abortion is not a dirty word and that our young people have the right to evidence-based information. Young people should be given the opportunity to acknowledge how common abortion is and that it is safe and available, but also the chance to think about how and why it happens, how complex the decision to have an abortion can be, and how they can focus on preventing unwanted pregnancy in the first place.

With just 4 staff, EFC has to work efficiently on a small budget. Because we can’t reach every young person in every school, we also train professionals (such as teachers, school nurses, sexual health workers, and social workers) around the country to talk to young people about pregnancy decision-making in educational and healthcare settings. Every time we train a group of professionals, we learn about a local anti-choice organisation that is spreading lies and misinformation about abortion in local schools. These stories are coming from every town in England from Newcastle to Penzance.

Our ‘A Word’ campaign has one goal: to ensure that young people can receive accurate information and good quality education about abortion whoever they are and wherever they are. To achieve this we will:

  1. Continue providing our pregnancy decision-making and abortion education workshops in schools so that we can continue meeting young people, providing them with information, finding out what they need to know, and training professionals to provide them with the best possible education and support.
  2. Conduct an audit of what and how schools in England are teaching about abortion within Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and Religious Education to demonstrate the paucity of good quality abortion education.
  3. Campaign for comprehensive SRE that includes evidence-based information and discussion about abortion – with no opt outs for schools or parents.

We know that readers of The F Word believe in the right of all young people to have access to evidence-based information on abortion and a non-judgemental educational space in which to explore pregnancy decision-making. If you support ‘The A Word’ then please visit our Just Giving page and help us reach our goal of raising at least £50,000 by the end of December. Any amount from £1 and above is gratefully appreciated.

You can also support EFC and our work with young people and professionals by showing that you are not afraid of ‘The A Word’. We ask you to:

Visit our website to learn more about our work and read our blog. To discuss other ways of supporting us, or to find out more about how we will use your donation, email us at efc (at) efc.org.uk.