A Necessary Kindness

David Jeffrey is previously a GP, consultant in palliative medicine and currently senior lecturer in ethics & law at Three Counties Medical School, University of Worcester


Juno Carey, who switched from practising as a midwife to working in an abortion clinic, has written an emotive account of her clinical experience supporting women requesting a termination of their pregnancy. Despite the prevalence of abortion, the author stating that 1 in 3 women in Britain will have an abortion at some time in their lives, it remains a topic which is rarely discussed, shrouded in guilt and shame. The author details the processes involved in early medical abortions and the later surgical options.

Carey has little patience with those pro-life supporters who harass patients and staff outside private abortion clinics. Sadly, women attending the clinics almost seem to expect to be shamed. The author urges healthcare professionals not to judge these patients but rather to be supportive, seeking rather to understand their situation. As the author points out, unplanned pregnancies can occur at older ages, 19% of terminations are carried out in women over the age of 35 years.

A chapter describes the tragic stories of trafficked women, prisoners, and victims of sexual assault. The author provides helpful advice to support trans people who request an abortion. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, medication to induce early medical abortions was posted to patients who then took the tablets at home. Carey warns of the risks of telephone triage, citing a fatal case of a patient with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

Since an early medical abortion before the 10th week of pregnancy is less risky than continuing a pregnancy to term, there are grounds for those seeking an early termination under the Abortion Act 1967. The author strongly supports a woman’s right to choose, arguing for the decriminalisation of abortion in the UK, suggesting that it should be regulated as a part of healthcare. She describes recent cases where women have been given custodial sentences which have stimulated a public outcry, fuelling the case for decriminalisation.

Abortion remains such a difficult ethical dilemma, since whichever side of the debate one sits on, we share a feeling of the intrinsic value of human life. This book is an up-to- date, eloquent plea to remove the stigma and prejudice against women requesting a termination and provides practical advice on how best to support these patients.

Featured book: Juno Carey, A Necessary Kindness – Stories from the frontline of abortion care £17.99. 280 pages. Atlantic Books London 2024

Featured Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Previous Story

Where ocean sailing and medical practice converge

Next Story

The Lancet Menopause Series; has it helped GPs to better support women?

Latest from Book review

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Skip to toolbar