Two Fremantle women provide post-abortion peer support based on the shortcomings of their own experiences.
Friends Lily McAuliffe and Sarah Hult both had abortions between 2017 and 2018 and found that side by side; there weren’t many places to turn for support in Western Australia.
It led them to want to provide for others what they lacked – a peer support group – and so The Abortion Project came to fruition.
“It was something we were qualified to do, and it also targeted an area that we felt was lacking in abortion care in Australia, which is aftercare,” Ms. McAuliffe said.
“They estimate that between one in four and one in six Australians will have an abortion in their lifetime, so when you consider how common it is, and yet there are no community or visible communities, I think that’s so bizarre.”
The group was backed this week by Health Secretary Amber Jade Sanderson, who said that although the state government funds “unintended pregnancy counseling for women” in WA, it acknowledged that peer support was incredibly beneficial.
“In the metropolitan area, these professional counseling services are available through Sexual Health Quarters, while support services are also available in major regional population centers,” said Ms. Sanderson.
“We recognize that peer support for people who have had an abortion is also incredibly beneficial and welcome The Abortion Project’s efforts in this area.”
The abortion project started in July last year. Those involved meet every two weeks to discuss various topics and support each other in abortion aftercare.
“One thing we hear over and over when people come to the group is ‘I had nowhere to go’ or ‘I haven’t talked to anyone about this before,'” Ms. McAuliffe said.
‘Of course, you can talk to a psychologist about it, but it’s still very much in this individual domain where it’s private and quiet.
“You can see a psychologist or a counselor, but it all comes at a cost unless you have free access to a service, so one of the things that were important to us, and still very important to us, is that The Abortion Project is free. †
Since they founded the group, Ms. Hult has moved to Darwin and plans to expand her service and support in the Northern Territory.
“To the best of our knowledge, we are currently the only peer support group in Australia, so there is a lot of room for us to be creative and grow,” said M.s McAuliffe.
Millions of people in America are currently protesting after it was announced that the US Supreme Court had provisionally voted to overturn Roe v Wade. This landmark ruling legalized abortion across America.
Currently, abortion is legal in WA up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but Ms. McAuliffe said she was nervous about what the Roe vs. Wade outcome could mean for laws in Australia.
“The real danger of these laws changing in America is that people have always sought an abortion, and they always will,” she said.
“All the laws do is enable or disable someone to access a safe abortion. People will die if these laws are repealed in America, and people suffer irreversible injuries.”
For those wishing to join the peer support group, more information can be found on the Instagram page of The Abortion Project Inc.