Monday, 29 October 2007

Abortion matters (2)

Abortion is getting the most public discussion that we have seen for a while. If you are not sure why, it is primarily because this month was the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Act which legalised women's right to abortion, and there is a forthcoming Human Embryology and Tissue Bill which provides opportunities for legislation to be included which could and should improve and extend women's rights. Much media attention has focused on reducing the time limit, despite there being no reliable scientific evidence about this being necessary.

Brook is involved in a consortia of organisations called Voice for Choice. Together we are working together to secure these improvements which include extending the law to Northern Ireland so women have the same rights there as the rest of Britain; removing the requirement for two doctors to authorise the procedure; and increasing the range of professionals and the range of health settings where abortions can be carried out.

And there is a another job for us to do at Brook, and that is to find out more about the specific issues for young women relating to abortion, and particularly to understand more about when medical abortion or surgical abortion is most appropriate and to understand more about what works in supporting them before, during and after either process.

There is no room for complacency on abortion rights. We need a strong united voice in support of women's rights. Make sure you are part of that voice.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Beautiful Within...

Finding happiness and confidence within your own skin, ( is the name of Brook’s ambassador, Mica Paris’ new book. In the introduction she states ‘every woman has it in her to create the life she really wants. We can do whatever we like, be anything we choose. All that stops us is that we don’t think we can.’ How sadly true for so many people young and old today.

When I was growing up I used to visit an ‘old lady’ Mrs O’Brien, mostly on Sundays. She probably has no idea how much she influenced me by regaling with her stories of love, loss, happiness, the importance of grabbing your chances and most importantly to remember there were always choices. Thank you Edith! I often talked of the problems and difficulties of ‘a friend’ and went away confident in my decision (sometimes to find she was wrong and I was in trouble!). But too many people don’t have an Edith.

And at Brook we see many of those young people without the confidence and self esteem, or the emotional and social skills to take control of their lives. Their dreams shattered by their experience of love and care, pressure and influence, they lose confidence and hope, and settle for second best in all areas of their lives, including sex and relationships.

Brook’s mission is ‘to enable all people to make informed choices about their personal and sexual relationships so that they can enjoy their sexuality without harm’. It is our joint belief and commitment that (young people) have the power to create the life they want that has led us to work together.

Mica’s story provides many practical ideas and personal insights that will be helpful for women, young women and for those that work with them. At Brook we look forward to working with Mica to change the world by helping young people change it for themselves. If I take anything from the book it is a reminder that there is nothing ‘nice’ about hiding talent, nothing brilliant about ‘settling for our lot’ and that sometimes choices are difficult and life it tough, but with a dollop of courage and lots of support there is always hope for fulfilment and happiness.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

We get what we expect

In 2001 I went on a sex education study tour to the United States of America. I met with a range of people working in the USA including Kristin Luker, a researcher from California who has done significant research on teenage pregnancy. Amongst many interesting and helpful points she said 'you get what you expect from young people'.

Expect them to be rude, feckless, 'hoodies', drunken and that is what you get. Expect them to be thoughtful, hopeful, engaged and brilliant and they will be. I was reminded of her point earlier this week when talking to a young person excluded from school and finding life at a Pupil Referral Unit a bit tough. I asked him what he thought his chances of getting back to school this year were . His reply went something like, 'i have been written off. School doesn't want me, here they don't expect me to turn up very often, and my mum has given up.'

He went on to say that even if he tried to sort things out now he won't get the chance - he is labelled. I wonder how the conversation would have gone if through effective relationship somebody had touched the imagination of this nice young man - helped him to believe in himself and found something he was brilliant at and interested in.

Only if we expect the best for young people, and let them(and all the people who are cynical and suspicious of them) know we want and expect the best for them and from them, only then we will our young dream of a world they want. And when people dream we know brilliant things happen.