Abortion has always been a taboo topic of conversation, especially in recent years where people have very strong pro-choice or pro-life opinions.
In an exhibition, “My Body, My Life”, which was originally part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is set to open on the 7th November in Oxford. Created by Lesley Hoggart, from Open University and Imogen Goold, a professor of law at Oxford University. In the exhibition, women are wearing the stories of their abortion to try to lessen the stigma that surrounds women talking openly about their abortions and abortion in general.
In just 2016 around 200,000 women in England and Wales had an abortion and on average one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
Imogen Goold, co-creator of the exhibition, told BuzzFeed News “We have these stereotypical ideas that it’s only younger women getting abortions, but it’s a huge range, from women in their early teens, right up to women in their late 40s, who think they’re going through the menopause, I really wanted all of that shown.”
Goold carries on to say to BuzzFeed “Many women who get pregnant are using contraception of some kind. Those kinds of facts help us understand why women need abortions. I particularly want to get rid of this idea that it’s just laziness, or they should have tried harder, or it’s all their fault. Sometimes life is complicated.”
Goold stated that she wanted to keep the exhibition inclusive and hoped it not to be politicised, including views of women both for and against abortion.
“Some women are happy about their abortions, some regret it and some are conflicted,” she said. “We are keen not to just have a pro-choice message, it’s meant to be about the fact that abortion is complicated and to understand that, we need to understand a whole range of experiences that women have reported.”
This exhibition is to help to make women feel comfortable sharing their story and try to demolish both the social stigma and the internalised stigma women have placed by society.
The official website for the exhibition says “My Body, My Life” is a public engagement project that seeks to this stigma around abortion by bringing real stories of abortion into the open.”
“Our hope is that by creating a space in which women (and men) can share their stories, the project will contribute to opening up conversations about real experiences of abortion – positive and negative – to enable us all to speak, to listen, and to understand without judgment.”