Pregnancy charities tackling taboo around termination for medical reasons

At least 5,000 pregnancies a year in the UK end due to TFMR – but the persistent taboo in society can mean that families keep it secret, in fear of other people’s reactions. Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), Petals and Tommy’s have joined forces with a new partnership aiming to change this

15 September 2020

We want to make sure our community includes everyone who's lost a baby duirng pregnancy or birth. That's why we've partnered with charities Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) and Petals to end the stigma around termination for medical reasons and improve support for the thousands of families affected.

When a baby is diagnosed with a serious genetic or physical condition in the womb, or a mother has pregnancy complications that pose a significant threat to either of their lives, parents face the heart-breaking decision of whether to continue the pregnancy or have a TFMR.

At least 5,000 pregnancies a year in the UK end due to TFMR – but the persistent taboo in society can mean that families keep it secret, in fear of other people’s reactions. We have joined forces with Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) and Petals to create a new partnership which aimsto change this.

Breaking the silence

Together with ARC and Petals, we believe that TFMR being shrouded in secrecy even more than other types of pregnancy and baby loss often leaves people struggling through this traumatic experience completely alone, which can have serious consequences for their mental health.

A 2019 Baby Loss Awareness Week Alliance report found 60% of bereaved parents felt they needed specialist psychological support, and almost 1 in 7 of Petals’ counselling referrals relate to TFMR. 

Despite needing this support, those affected by TFMR can be reluctant to reach out, struggling with complicated feelings around having made a decision and sometimes fearing judgement. We have come together to tackle this issue and ensure that nobody has to face the trauma of TFMR alone.

 “Although 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss, the stigma and silence around it means people can feel incredibly alone in their grief – something made worse by the current pandemic. Families who experience termination for medical reasons often feel excluded from the wider baby loss community, increasing their isolation. That’s why Tommy’s is delighted to partner with Petals and ARC to build a more inclusive baby loss community, which reflects the range of personal experiences and better supports families through the challenges they face.”

Tommy’s Policy & Research Director, Lizzie D’Angelo

"The decision to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy is one of the most traumatic and painful decisions a parent could ever have to make. It is common for couples to feel a complicated mix of anger, panic, guilt and shame which can quite often drown out the grief they are also feeling over the loss of their child. The specialist counselling that Petals offers supports women, men and couples talk through and process all of the complex emotions and thoughts they are experiencing after having to TFMR, enabling them to grieve for their child, adjust to their ‘new normal’ and find a place of hope for the future.

By joining forces with ARC and Tommy’s today, we hope to open up the conversation so that TFMR is recognised as much a part of pregnancy and baby loss as any other type of loss.”

Petals’ Chief Executive, Karen Burgess

"ARC has been providing specialised information and support to women and couples who are facing or have experienced #tfmr for over 30 years but it still remains the least spoken about type of pregnancy/baby loss. We are so pleased to be working with Petals and Tommy’s to help break the silence and ensure all affected can access the help they may need" 

ARC’s Director, Jane Fisher

Read termination for medical reasons stories

Read more Tommy's news

  • A nurse taking a patients blood pressure in a hospital room

    News

    Pregnancy is a unique chance to predict health risks to mums

    A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.

  • Rising demand for Tommy's midwives in coronavirus lockdown

    News

    Tommy’s awarded grant to help meet rising demand for support during coronavirus lockdown

    Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.

  • Tommy's researchers latest findings

    News

    Tommy’s Research Centres continue vital work on pregnancy complications

    Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.

  • Blog

    Miscarriage during lockdown

    The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.