Tuesday 15 September 2020 – Petals has have teamed up with fellow national charities ARC and Tommy’s to end the stigma around termination for medical reasons (TFMR) 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. Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), Petals and Tommy’s have joined forces with a new partnership aiming to change this.

All three charities are warning 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. As well as the specialist counselling offered by Petals, Tommy’s and ARC provide secure online communities for people to connect with others who have been through similar.

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. ARC, Petals and Tommy’s have come together to tackle this issue and ensure that nobody has to face the trauma of TFMR alone.

Petals’ Chief Executive, Karen Burgess, said, “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.”

Tommy’s Policy & Research Director, Lizzie D’Angelo, said: “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.”

ARC’s Director Jane Fisher said, “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 and 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.”

Find out more about TFMR and our partnership with ARC and Tommy’s at our brand new TFMR webpage.

You can also follow Petals (@petalscharity), ARC (@arcantenatal) and Tommy’s (@tommys) on social media on Tuesday 15 September 2020 to find out more about this important topic.