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Backlash after US public radio airs abortion recording

A national radio station in the US aired an audio recording of a woman’s surgical abortion, leading to a public backlash.

National Public Radio (NPR) played the audio recording on 3 November. The broadcaster released the audio with a reporter’s voiceover explaining what was going on between clips of a vacuum aspirator whirring and the woman having the abortion moaning in distress.

A vacuum abortion is a type of surgical abortion. The abortion is performed using a plastic or metal cannula attached to a vacuum source, which extracts the baby from his or her mother’s womb ending his or her life in the process. 

The airing has caused outrage in many quarters. Robin Atkin writing in the Spectator World said “For me, it was the sound of the woman’s pain that brought flashbacks to my medical abortion over 20 years ago. Women with abortion trauma like me … are ignored by mainstream America”.

“Compassionate” coercion … is medical abuse

Atkin also raised concerns about coercion and how the abortion audio clip drew attention to the problem. “The trauma of abortion is compounded when there is any coercion involved in the event. As the NPR piece describes, women’s apprehension, fear, and doubt as they prepare for the procedure are often met with coercive reassurance and pressure to continue”.

“Though these responses sound kind and compassionate, they gaslight rather than listen to and understand the woman’s emotions. This ‘compassionate’ coercion is not an example of trauma-informed care or informed consent. It is medical abuse and a trampling of patient rights”.

Atkin recounted her own abortion trauma saying that her medical abortion was “agony”. She said the abortion caused her to “vomited repeatedly, and [haemorrhage] the contents of [her] uterus, including [her] son …”

“This was nothing like a heavy period”, she added. “This was violent death. The same violent death we hear in the NPR piece flowered with euphemisms and lovely imagery of female empowerment”.

Horrifying and inappropriate

Similarly, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s president, slammed NPR for the segment, saying it crossed a line. 

She told Fox News “It is horrifying and inappropriate for a taxpayer funded outlet to air the excruciating moments for child and mother of an abortion”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Whatever NPR’s intention behind airing this segment, it is clear that the public are horrified. This is because abortion ends the life of a baby in the womb. As Atkin says, the false ‘coercive compassion’ that the woman in the audio segment experiences from the medical staff is appalling. The woman who has the abortion is so clearly frightened. She needs help, support and love. Instead, all she receives from the staff at the clinic are empty platitudes”. 

Dear reader,

MPs will shortly vote on proposed changes to the law, brought forward by Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Diana Johnson, that would introduce the biggest change to our abortion laws since the Abortion Act was introduced in 1967.

These proposed changes to the law would make it more likely that healthy babies are aborted at home for any reason, including sex-selective purposes, up to birth.

Polling undertaken by ComRes, shows that only 1% of women support introducing abortion up to birth and that 91% of women agree that sex-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.

Please click the button below to contact your MP now and ask them to vote no to these extreme changes to our law. It only takes 30 seconds using our easy-to-use tool.