UK – A Necessary Kindness: Stories from the Frontline of Abortion Care, by Juno Carey 

Published by Atlantic Books

Book Review: Demystifying abortion: an insider’s account of a long and painful history

Eight years working in abortion provision led the author to make this frank and moving case for safeguarding reproductive freedoms – and ending the culture of secrecy and guilt.

It isn’t long into reading Juno Carey’s book that you realise it also serves as a meditation on women and shame. A former NHS midwife who moved into abortion provision (first in clinics then on aftercare helplines), Carey (not her real name) was asked how she could do both, but in her view: “The gap between helping women deliver babies and helping them terminate unwanted pregnancies no longer seems wide to me.” As the title says, it is “a necessary kindness”, another way of aiding pregnant women. While acknowledging the complexities, Carey seeks to demystify abortion – the fact of it, the need for it, the processes of it – to rid it of the long, painful history of judgment, blame and misogynistic juju, and stress its rightful function in a civilised society. Abortion, she asserts, is healthcare….

Carey writes evocatively of the stigma, guilt and secrecy that, even today, engulfs abortions – a culture of silence that makes women feel abnormal and alone…. Carey emphasises the wide range of such women, at different ages and stages of life. Some are young and not ready for motherhood. Others are trafficked, raped, abused, or are victims of domestic violence. Some terminate longed-for pregnancies because of fetal abnormality. Others can’t afford another child, or simply don’t want one. And on and on: so many women requiring abortions, for myriad complex reasons. Carey writes: “I now believe almost anyone could undergo the procedure under certain circumstances.” Still, women would frequently turn up at her clinic fully expecting to be shamed…

SOURCE: The Guardian, by Barbara Ellen, 7 April 2024