15 April, 2016

When Pregnancy Turns Your Life Upside-down

 An unplanned pregnancy may cause fear and confusion, and abortion may have surprisingly long-term effects.

– I had an abortion in my twenties. No one warned me about the pain abortion causes. I wanted to just forget about the issue, but could not. It affected all areas of my life. After few years I came to Itu-project peer-support weekend, where I was allowed to deal with abortion pain in an understanding environment. I felt that people accepted me and my feelings. It helped a lot, tells a 26-year-old woman.*

– I found out I was pregnant in situation far from perfect. Still I knew from the beginning that I would keep my child. That is because I have gone through an abortion before. It took me two years of my life to process the issue, of which I spent half a year out of work. I got my life back in order with the help of Finnish health care and Itu-project staff. During this new pregnancy I have noticed that pregnancy changes thoughts and how I experience life. For me it is absolutely best option to continue with my pregnancy, tells a 32-year-old women.*

These stories – and hundreds more – have become familiar through Itu-work that supports girls and women who are in crisis pregnancy situations or who have gone through an abortion.

– We started Itu-project in 2004. There were a group of women in the local Tampere YWCA who realised there wasn’t any support for women who have gone through an abortion. And by the way, YWCA is still the only organisation that supplies that kind of service in Finland. Through this work we have met for example a 13-year-old girl who’s afraid she might be pregnant as well an 82-year-old woman who still suffered because she had to make an abortion decades ago, tell Outi from the local YWCA of Tampere.

Through Itu-work hundreds of women and girls has been reached, most of them 20 to 30 years of age. Today there are Itu-counselling centres in Tampere, Helsinki and Savonlinna. In addition trained volunteers offer support in Kuopio, Lahti, Nastola, Seinäjoki, Oulu, Sastamala and Turku. There’s also a telephone service five days a week from 9 am to 9 pm.

– We’re there for all those who want to discuss about their pregnancy and life situation. All conversations are treated confidentially and the service is free. For those who are willing to keep the baby and need some support for that, we offer support persons. And for those who have made abortion, we offer a recovery Journey-groups, where the aim is to offer a safe environment where you’re allowed to share your experience, feelings and thoughts without the fear of condemnation, tells Outi.

The local YWCA of Tampere trains new volunteers for Itu-work. For example in May 2016 there’s training for those who want to become support persons for women who have decided to keep their baby and lives in Helsinki or near by. The training is being held in Hotel Helka.

* Shortened quote from Itu-project website.