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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Brighton chapter.

Disclaimer: This article discusses the topic of abortion and features information/experiences that may be harmful to readers. Names and identifying features have been changed to protect individuals.

On the 24th of February 2022, the UK Government announced that it would end the temporary ‘pills-by-post’ scheme. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the scheme, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government announced that women would be able to take the first abortion pill at home rather than have to attend a clinic appointment. Following the announcement that we would be returning to the pre-covid system, over 30 medical groups have called for at-home abortions to be made permanent, with the BPAS describing the consequences of this decision to be ‘disastrous’ for women (The Guardian). In addition to this, others have argued that removing this scheme will affect domestic violence as many women in abusive relationships are restricted from accessing many health services due to their partner’s controlling natures (Dazed). Thus, this petition began to circulate on social media today – amassing 855 signatures so far.

Despite this, health minister Maggie Throup has remained adamant that this decision is suitable for women, stating: “The wellbeing and safety of women requiring access to abortion services has been, and will continue to be, our first and foremost priority” (The Daily Mail). The decision from the government came after over 600 medical professionals penned an open letter branding “DIY-abortions” as dangerous because there is no way of knowing who is taking the pills or when, as without ultrasounds, doctors cannot determine gestation accurately (The Paradise). Interestingly, there was also the argument that continuing the pills-by-post scheme would, again, negatively affect women suffering from domestic violence. This is because of the belief that you cannot accurately assess their circumstances and whether they’re acting on their own free will over the phone (Politics).

As a woman who believes that a woman’s right to abortion shouldn’t be a political matter/debate, I think that we should be removing the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ arguments from the narrative and instead educate ourselves by talking to women who have had abortions directly. So, after I saw this social media post doing the rounds on Instagram, I decided to reach out to three women who have had three very different experiences with medical abortions. The purpose of this article is to better understand the problems at hand and how we can collectively advocate for adequate change for the 1 in 3 women who will have to make this decision in their lifetime. As mentioned previously, names and identifying features have been changed to protect individuals.

When did you find out you were pregnant?

‘Ellie’, aged 22: “I found out that I was pregnant at the end of January 2020. I was 20 years old and in my first year of university.”

‘Kayla’, aged 19: “I don’t really want to say when I found out, sorry.”

‘Lilly’, aged 23: “I found out I was pregnant in the middle of lockdown.”

Please describe the process you went through with your chosen organisation, and how long this took.

‘Ellie’, aged 22: “Coronavirus was a thing, but there was no talk yet of a lockdown that was being taken seriously, at least. Initially, I actually went to the BPAS. I requested a consultation via telephone and received a call back on the same day, from here I was scheduled for an appointment and within a week I was in the clinic. At the clinic, we went through my options and I had an ultrasound. I settled on a surgical abortion initially, but after this appointment, I actually changed my mind on whether or not I actually wanted an abortion and went home to my family. Eventually, I decided it was ultimately the right thing to do, except this time I went through my local hospital who were a lot less welcoming and understanding than BPAS. They didn’t even consider my request for a surgical abortion, and I had to have a medical one instead. Altogether, it took about a month for me to get an abortion.”

‘Kayla’, aged 19: “I contacted the BPAS and I remember speaking to a few different people before getting the thumbs up. I’ve used the morning-after-pill before and I’d say the questions I was asked were pretty similar to that, like ‘when was your last period’ and other stuff you’d expect. Was quite an easy process to be fair, the people I spoke to were nice. I was worried about my family finding out, so receiving the parcel the next day was a relief.”

‘Lilly’, aged 23: “Sorry if this is long, my whole story is quite chaotic. I actually called my doctors first thinking that this was the right move, who congratulated me and wanted to schedule me in for an appointment! It was quite funny actually. I told my friend who was like ‘why didn’t you contact BPAS?’ which is when I searched them up on Google. I’d never heard of them before and the closest clinic was quite a while away and I can’t drive, so knowing they were doing them by post was quite a relief. My main symptoms of pregnancy was super sensitive boobs, nausea and really bad cramps. They were like the ones right before a period. I remember mentioning this during my phone consultation with the BPAS, but apparently it was normal. The service felt a bit too easy to even be normal but if I’m honest i just wanted to get it over and done with so I didn’t question it too much at the time.”

in as little or as much detail as you’d like, talk me through the procedure and how you feel about it today.

‘Ellie’, aged 22: “My abortion was one of the worst experiences of my life. Due to certain medical conditions I have, I had to do the abortion at the hospital under supervision to avoid any complications that could have happened if I did it at home. A few days prior I took the first tablet at the hospital, and then returned to take the second tablet. I was in severe pain, pain killers didn’t work and I had a lot of vomiting. The nurses tried their best and were extremely caring towards me, and even prevented me from seeing the fetus once I had passed it. The next day, the first lockdown was put into place by the government. Today I am still affected by my abortion, and hold it as one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced.”

‘Kayla’, aged 19: “Don’t really know what to say about this one, I found it pretty easy to do. The instructions were really clear, I took the first pill and then two days later started my doses of the other one you have to insert. Think the hardest part of it was that it felt weird inserting the tablets and I was worried they’d fall out. The pain was fine at first but then started to feel like the worst period of my life, and I had no pain relief. It only lasted a few hours though, but I carried on bleeding for weeks. Today, I am very happy with my decision.”

‘Lilly’, aged 23: “If you’re not familiar with abortions, you get two different types of tablets. The first one Mifepristone I took two days before, then I had two doses of Misoprostol which are put into your vagina. I was also given pain relief and a pregnancy test to do 3 weeks later. I wasn’t expecting to have any complications as I’ve had friends also have abortions, but the more time passed the more I started to feel like shit. I started to Google other womens experiences online to check if I was overreacting and started to mellow out when I read others describing it as ‘excruciating’. But then it felt like my pain relief wasn’t even working, and I begun to feel hot and chilly. I had to go to A & E, where I found out I was having an ectopic pregnancy.”

How do you feel about the governments decision to scrap pills-by-post?

‘Ellie’, aged 22: “I think this is a hard question for me to answer, as I have no experience with the service. One thing I will say is I personally couldn’t have ever imagined going through what I went through at home, but I’m also very aware the experience is different for everyone. I will say though that I think it could co-exist with in-clinic care. Women like me with underlying health conditions absolutely do need to be seen before going through with an abortion, and I’ve heard stories of other women being denied the pill when they’ve requested surgical.”

‘Kayla’, aged 19: “I really don’t agree with it at all. I think too many people have different circumstances that need to be considered. Maybe if they carried on with phone consultations to determine if they could be sent by post to people who need it? Like, I was really worried about my family finding out and this service protected me from that, there will be so many other girls in my position too.”

‘Lilly’, aged 23: “I’m just gonna say that if peoples anger makes them change their mind on this decision then they need to seriously sort it the fuck out. They should of been asking more in depth questions if they didn’t want this to happen. Just searching ‘ectopic pregnancy’ will show you the symptoms I had matched and yet despite the multiple phone calls it didn’t once raise alarm bells with the professionals I was speaking with. You want this service? Train your staff, listen to your patients and request in-person ultrasounds if it sounds like there’s complications.”


‘Ellie’, aged 22: “I wish more people would listen to women who have gone through it. It’s either super villainsed by pro-lifers, or its turned into a meme by people who are pro-choice as a way to normalise it. I went into this situation expecting it to be an easy process, I wasn’t expecting it to traumatise me. I wish there was more education on this matter.”

‘Kayla’, aged 19: “Pretty much what I said before, keep the pills-by-post service. I think it was a really big step forward for us and made it even more accessible. I also think the more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes. Some people want it to look like this big scary thing, but that wasn’t the case for me and probably won’t be for someone else.”

‘Lilly’, aged 23: “We’ve got to put better funding into it. I think that the reason organisations like the BPAS are against this decision is because they don’t have the facilities to accommodate to in-person appointments again, which would make waiting times go up. If these services were better funded, we wouldn’t have this problem, but it seems like no one on this planet is willing to actually take these problems seriously because we’ve got such a huge problem apparently with listening to people who have gone through it. The people who run this country don’t give a fuck about improving the funding as long as it stops as many abortions as possible.”

I would like to give a huge thank you to the lovely women who were brave enough to share their experiences with me for this article, and I wish them nothing but love and support. Whilst not everyone’s experience with abortion is the same, one thing that we can agree on is the fact that no one can determine what is suitable for a woman or her body but herself. We need to listen to other women in moments like this, spread their experiences and advocate for what they want regardless of our political agendas. It is time to listen, educate and protest for what is right.
If you or someone you know needs abortion support or advice, please click here.
Hey, my name is Neave and I am a final-year Media Studies student at the University of Brighton. I currently serve as campus correspondent/editor-in-chief for Her Campus Brighton and in my spare time, I love to read, write and watch movies which is why I started my column: Theme Queen! Outside of my hobbies, I am a keen social activist, and when I graduate I want to write content that is progressive and stands for impactful social change. Thank you so much for reading my articles, any bit of support is greatly appreciated xo