My mum recently opened up to me about the abortion she had 31 years ago, when she had just finished her RAF officer training. Before this she had kept it a total secret, for fear of being judged and disappointing her family. Until the end of 1990 it was the Force’s policy to discharge any women from service on the grounds of pregnancy. This left many servicewomen, including my mum, with an ultimatum of terminating their pregnancy or losing their job.
Ad Astra is a collaboration between my mum and I. It investigates the discriminatory policy that affected thousands of servicewomen between 1978 and 1990, through looking at my mum’s personal experience with abortion while in the air force. This work sheds some light on the complex situation surrounding pregnancy within the armed forces, and opens up the conversation around abortion and the mental impact that it can have on a person, even decades later. But ultimately this work has been a way for my mum to finally open up about her experience, helping to lift some of the guilt she has carried for 30 years and leading me to better understand the relationship I hold with her.