Sunday, 18 December 2016

Why I am, and will always be, pro-choice

To clarify before I even start, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. In an ideal world, the only women who will ever find themselves pregnant are those who want to be. Pro-choice is the belief that women anywhere and everywhere have the right to access safe clinical termination of an unwanted pregnancy.

To remove what may be an elephant in the room, I myself am physically unable to have children. Whilst for some news of infertility is a hideous tragedy, for me it was firstly not terribly surprising and secondly not in any way a sadness. I have never wanted children, and now teetering on the cusp of 30 I feel absolutely no different about the situation. In the highly unlikely- actually, impossible- chance that I became pregnant, I am able to say with total confidence that I would terminate the pregnancy immediately. There is only ever one reason to have a child- because you want one. 

I do not follow any kind of organised religion and so am not influenced by that in my decisions, and I do not live in a country whereby it would not be possible to me to access a termination. 

Abortion became legal in the United Kingdom in 1967. Prior to that, some women attempted to self-abort- endangering their own lives in the process. If pregnant and not married, you would be considered by some a “fallen woman.” Some woman wouldn’t be able to rent a room of their own- because they were clearly a ‘harlot’ no good to anyone- and in some cases, women were sent to a “convent house”, and basically forced to work until birth. The baby would be removed from them immediately and given up for adoption, and they would return to the life they had before. 

Women could also be given a “shot” by a doctor (most likely an overdose of the hormone progesterone) used to treat teenagers slow to begin menstruation. This is a form of chemical abortion. Women would then be sent home, with no form of emotional or clinical aftercare, and left to bleed heavily, in horrific pain, until the pregnancy was no longer there.

Doctors in some cases would also forge paperwork to say that the baby would not survive to term- and the pregnancy could be ended.

When you value the 'life' of a foetus before that of a woman, what does that say about your morals? Are we really such throwbacks in time that we believe “all woman love babies”? Abortion is not murder, nor has it ever been. Women do not have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term when they do not wish to. The mother will suffer, the child will suffer. There is no good that can come out of a situation like this.

I don’t wish to inflame gender relations here but men- we are the ones who suffer the consequences of sex ending in pregnancy. Women can be taking oral or injected contraception, other methods can be used and it can still fail. Accidents do happen and not much can be done to stop that. In some instances, it also worth saying that women may be the victim of rape and then become pregnant. 

There is also domestic abuse cases whereby men keep their partner continually pregnant to enforce their reliance on them and as another form of control. There is a very sad story of a woman having to discreetly meet a nurse from a Women’s Health Centre, so she could secretly have a contraceptive shot and not allow her husband to force a pregnancy onto her that she didn’t want.

When I see the anti-abortion protestors outside my local hospital, I am not only angry but I am tremendously sad. People are entitled to their beliefs- this goes without saying, but when those beliefs are hateful and hurtful to others, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. For a woman who has made the decision to end a pregnancy, imagine the disgusting situation that puts her in- to have to walk into the centre at the hospital past a group of people who consider her a “murderer.”

I have absolutely nothing but respect for the women who have chosen to end a pregnancy they did not want. You do not ever need to justify yourself and you do not ever need to tell anyone why. The only person who needs to be satisfied that you made the right choice is you. You made your choice and I am completely behind you whatever you decided. You are not a failure, you are not wrong, you have not let anybody down and I hope that you know that whilst some may choose to wave signs in your face, force their beliefs onto you or tell you that you were wrong- remember this. They do not know you nor your circumstances. You always, always, always have a choice, and I cannot say how grateful I am that you do.

Let me end this with a quote from Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Nun.

I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That is not pro-life, that is pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”