Tauranga will be the first place in New Zealand to trial a recovery programme for women struggling with the after-effects of abortion.
Women of all ages can register their interest in the eight week course, designed to heal emotional fallout that can surface months, years or decades after a termination.
Course co-ordinator Barbara Hill and Pregnancy Choice Centre director Janice Tetley-Jones with the Living in Colour programme book. Photo: Tracy Hardy.
‘Living in Colour’ was developed by New Zealander Jenny McDermid, who now lives and operates the programme in Canada.
Tauranga women Barbara Hill and Janice Tetley-Jones are part of a small team of women bringing the internationally-renowned programme to the Bay of Plenty later this month.
Janice, who directs Tauranga’s Pregnancy Choice centre, believes the need for a support service is paramount and hopes the course will be made available nationally.
She says while some women feel a sense of relief after abortion, others suffer long-term and severe impacts and can affect their ability to function normally.
“We’ve seen many women who are struggling. Often they come in for a pregnancy test, and we’ve got them talking and they’ve shared about an abortion experience and the struggles they’ve had.”
The women-only course will focus on working through abortions, the people involved and the grief process after, with sessions once a week.
Barbara, a former employee at Relationships Aotearoa, says many women feel like they’re stuck in a ‘grey zone,’ where they lose the ability to experience real joy in life.
“Part of the Living in Colour programme involves looking at what was happening at the time of the abortion and who contributed to the decision.
“What can happen for some women is they feel a void afterwards. They often don’t realise why they’re drinking more or depressed or frequently feeling such emptiness. There’s nothing out there to really help them at present.”
Facilitators leading the sessions have all experienced abortion themselves – and the courses will be held both in a facilitator’s home and the CBD.
Janice encourages any women, no matter how long ago their pregnancy decisions were, to contact them if they’re interested.
“It’s absolutely huge to make that first step, to say, ‘Yes, I’m really struggling with this’. We know it’s hard, and we’re making it as private and as gentle as possible.”
Nine Tauranga women have completed a pilot programme with one participant, who did not wish to be named, noticing a marked difference in herself.
“I had pushed the grief of my abortion away for many years but it still affected me profoundly.
“The anniversary of what would have been the baby’s due date was always painful, I often felt deeply sad, and I struggled to bond with the children I went on to have afterwards.”
She says the course was a gentle healing journey.
“It helped me to fully acknowledge my loss; and I’ve felt more joyful and peaceful since.”
Organisers hope the first course will begin at the end of July.
Women interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the centre on 571 0984.