These are our Champions of Choice. They are people who have campaigned for or dedicated much of their working lives to supporting women’s reproductive choice. We celebrate their commitment and believe they are an inspiration to us all.
A passionate advocate for women’s reproductive rights David Paintin is a true pioneer of change. He was part of the group from the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA) that supported David Steel during the parliamentary debates, that resulted in the Abortion Act of 1967. Alongside his instrumental campaigning with parliamentarians, David also worked hard to increase abortion’s acceptability. He promoted innovation and good practice through his involvement with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and by lecturing on the provision of legal abortion to medical students, family planning doctors and gynaecologists throughout the country. His contribution to women’s reproductive autonomy makes David a clear Champion of Choice. Read Ann Furedi’s piece about why all women owe a debt to David Paintin here.
The Miscarriage Association is a national charity offering support and information for those who have been affected by pregnancy loss, as well as raising much-needed awareness of this too often ignored issue. The charity also campaigns for better medical care, and has highlighted the need for full and informed choice regarding clinically appropriate miscarriage management options, in a too often ignored area of reproductive health.
Birthrights was founded in 2013 and is the UK’s only organisation dedicated to improving women’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth by promoting respect for human rights. Over the last two years, Elizabeth and Rebecca have created a powerful organisation that promotes respect for women’s autonomy. From intervening in a court case around criminalisation of drinking in pregnancy, advising women on their rights to providing training for medical professionals on dignity in childbirth, the organisation puts women’s ability – and right – to make decisions for themselves at the core of all their work. As pregnant women’s autonomy becomes increasingly under attack, Birthrights are an invaluable Champion of Choice. Read Rebecca’s piece on why we need to work together to join up the dots on the reproductive rights spectrum here.
Jane Fisher is the Director at Antenatal Results and Choices, and works hard to provide important support & invaluable non-directive information to expectant and bereaved parents, enabling them to make a choice that is right for them. Through her work at ARC Jane has played a leading role in encouraging policy development and training healthcare professionals in the field of antenatal screening so that parents are provided with the best care and information, so they can make choices based on individual circumstances. Read Jane’s piece on why we need to support women’s pregnancy choices here.
Dr Christian Jessen is a doctor, broadcaster and sexual health campaigner who has had a huge impact on raising awareness and de-stigmatising sexual health matters. Through his work on television shows such as Embarrassing Bodies, his newspaper columns and the publication of his books, Christian has provided valuable information and guidance about a range of “taboo” subjects. Christian is a passionate advocate for sexual and reproductive rights and has been involved in many public campaigns, including the Back Off campaign for abortion clinic buffer zones, making him an instrumental Champion of Choice.
A passionate advocate for women’s right to abortion care, Erika has been at the forefront of the campaign for clinic buffer zones. Erika started a change.org petition in October 2014 after seeing video footage of a pregnant woman confronting anti-abortion protesters, which became an extraordinary success. The petition gained over 120,000 signatures in a matter of months and was critical in raising awareness of the issue with the general public. Erika presented the petition to 10 Downing Street with other members of the Back Off coalition in March 2015, and is continuing to fight the government’s inaction on this issue. Read Erika’s piece on why we need buffer zones to protect a women’s right to choose here.
Dr Patricia Lohr is the Medical Director of BPAS. She has made it part of her mission to encourage young doctors to work in abortion care. Patricia set up BPAS’ highly successful Reproductive Health Externship, which gives medical students insight into abortion provision and the women who need it, and has facilitated training for post-graduates unable to obtain sufficient clinical exposure to abortion care in their training programmes. Patricia is also on the Board of Medical Students for Choice whose mission is creating tomorrow’s abortion providers and pro-choice physicians.
Caitlin Dean is a registered Nurse and chair person for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support. Caitlin suffered Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), severe pregnancy sickness, during her three pregnancies and campaigns tirelessly to improve care, raise awareness and tackle stigma around the condition. She is passionate about ensuring women have access to evidence based information and effective treatment for the condition, writes the popular Spewing Mummy blog, is the co-author of Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Definitive Guide and has just released her children’s book How to be an HG Hero. Read Caitlin’s piece about the proper support women suffering from HG need here.
Sarah is a fertility awareness practitioner and a passionate believer that when it comes to reproductive healthcare it is your body, your choice. Sarah works to ensure that women are able to access all the relevant information they need to make informed choices about their method of contraception, and campaigns for women to receive individualised care that responds to their needs and beliefs, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to contraception. Her Be Fertility Aware blog is an important resource for many women and healthcare professionals interested in fertility and women’s health. Read Sarah’s piece on why fertility awareness should be a routine option here.
Susan is a strong believer that NHS fertility treatment should not depend on one’s postcode and campaigns hard for this change through her role as co-chair at Fertility Fairness. Her first hand experience of infertility and treatment makes her a passionate advocate for emotional support and counselling for everyone struggling to conceive. Her role as Chief Executive of the patient charity Infertility Network UK, the only national charity in the UK which supports anyone experiencing fertility issues, enables her to play a leading role in changing the conversation surrounding fertility issues and promote better understanding of the options available. Read Susan’s piece on the need for equitable access to NHS fertility treatments here.