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Strengthening Relationships
and Sex Education


Top Tips for teaching about abortion

  1. One in three women in the UK will have an abortion by the age of 45. (1) Approximately half of young people who become pregnant will choose to end the pregnancy.(2) It’s important therefore that young people who have had, or who will go on to have experience of abortion, do not feel alienated or judged by group discussion.
  2. Settting groundrules (or a ‘working agreement’) for the lesson will ensure that students understand the importance of respectful and sensitive discussion.
  3. Ensure teaching materials are evidence-based and do not stigmatise any particular pregnancy option. Check factual information against reputable organisations such as Education For Choice, FPA, Brook and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
  4. If students are required to carry out their own research into abortion try to provide trustworthy websites and materials for them to work from. You and they should be aware that some anti-abortion websites will contain distressing images and inaccurate information.
  5. Ensure education about abortion includes discussion of safer sex and prevention of unintended pregnancy. Include information on local sexual health services for young people – the FPA’s Find a Clinic tool is useful for this.
  6. Make sure that students understand the difference between medical abortion (when medication is used to end a pregnancy) and emergency contraception (which helps to prevent pregnancy). Phrases like ‘abortion pill’ can cause confusion for some.
  7. Encourage students to separate out the facts about abortion (in what circumstances abortion is legal, the safety of the procedure) from their opinions and beliefs (for example, when life begins). Correct myths and misinformation and promote an open discussion of beliefs which is respectful and inclusive.
  8. Explore the varying views on abortion from both within and between different faiths (as well as covering secular values). Ask students what they know about the different religious positions on abortion and supplement with information from official websites and materials.
  9. The Department of Education’s SRE Guidance advises against teaching about abortion in a debate format. A debate risks polarising the topic and treating abortion as a purely abstract topic, rather than a real aspect of many people’s lives.
  10. Create a lesson which is in itself balanced, and takes into account the different moral, ethical and religious positions on abortion.

For more information, see Education For Choice’s Best Practice Toolkit: Abortion Education – free to download here.

Other useful resources for teaching about abortion:

Brook: information on all aspects of sexual health for young people, including professional resources.

FPA: information on sexual and reproductive health, including detailed information on contraception and the Find a Clinic tool which gives information on local sexual health services.

Department for Education SRE Guidance: statutory guidance for teaching about sex and relationships.

Conception Statistics: The Office for National Statistics collects data on conceptions, including those for young people 18 and under.

British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS): provides accurate information about abortion methods.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG): this patient care leaflet gives accurate legal and medical information about abortion.

[1] The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion (2011) Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

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