Please excuse how confrontational this post is. I’d been reading the many posts at The Hand Mirror on abortion and the comments in those posts. Unfortunately some of the comments aren’t particularly nice (understatement of the year) so was feeling rather pissed off at people making judgements and assumptions about women who access abortion services and women who have unplanned pregnancies in general. I decided to make this post because many of those people probably have friends or family who have had to make that choice and yet don’t realise it. I’m one of those women and I needed to tell of my experiences.
With all the debate going on in blog land at the moment about the proposed bill to decriminalise abortion, I had a whole big post about my tale of two unplanned pregnancies in mind. Especially because people seem to forget that these pregnancies involve people that do actually have a brain. Yeah, women have brains.
But then when I started writing and tried to deal with all the stupid comments I’ve seen around the place, it seemed like the individual stories don’t freaking matter. I’m not going to change the minds of those that consider me a baby killer or a slapper who should have dealt with her actions. So screw ’em. I’ll write a general post on the decriminalisation of abortion if I want.
So, what matters to me is that we have access to abortion should we choose to go that path. The decision whether to continue a pregnancy and keep the baby, adopt out, or get a termination should be made by the one that is most affected, the pregnant woman. She is able to take into consideration as much or as little as she needs, given that she is the one that is going to go through pregnancy and birth, or the abortion.
Right, I just figured out where I am going with this and why I wanted to tell my particular story: I was able to make a choice. Two of them in fact.
I chose to go through with my first pregnancy. I was 16 weeks pregnant when I found out, at University in Dunedin, and 19 years old. I heard a lot of shit in the week or so that it took to make the decision to continue with that pregnancy: my friends declared that I’d have to give up studying (I didn’t), the guy involved (who turned out not to be the father) telling me that I was selfish bringing a child into the world that would potentially be affected by fetal alcohol syndrome (she wasn’t), and on and on. I knew I’d made the right decision when I admitted to myself that I could continue with that pregnancy and still achieve everything I wanted to do and I’m so glad I had that choice.
When I found out I was pregnant a second time, I had a completely different experience. I was in a fairly stable (at the time) relationship and my friends were completely supportive of my choice either way. I had Hannah already so I wasn’t dealing with the unknown. In fact, that was it. I knew exactly what I could handle and exactly what I couldn’t. My partner at the time was clear about what he wanted and was there for me where he could be. I knew there was no way I’d be continuing that pregnancy as I just couldn’t fathom being a single mother of two children and I’m so glad I had that choice.
And here’s where I give up on my idea about not responding to idiots whose minds I cannot change, and comment on the assertion by some of them that terminations are used as birth control. No. No they are not. In my experience, I had what felt like a zillion appointments. Most of them involving time off work or trying to fit in around lectures. Hardly the easy access that using an abortion as birth control is made out to be. And then I was given news that the time between getting sign off from the first doctor and the first appointment at the women’s clinic would be two weeks.
Those two weeks waiting were the worst few weeks of my life. It was insulting that it seemed like the health system was trying to make me question my decision and also depressing that our services are so stretched that they have to make a woman wait for so long for the procedure. I grieved for lost possibilities; I’m not doubting that there is emotion involved when you decide to have an abortion, but it was even more stressful remaining pregnant when I didn’t want to be.
And let me tell you now, the actual termination procedure isn’t pleasant. I had support from my boyfriend throughout but I still felt so alone. And that isn’t even dealing with the physical aspects, I’ll save you those particular details (although feel free to ask me any time). Using that procedure as birth control is just laughable. And let’s not forget that was my second unplanned pregnancy so I probably do fall into the category of those who “they” consider use abortion for birth control. But that shit does happen. Especially when there isn’t a perfect contraceptive option; and with the options that are available, the risks or invasiveness seem to directly relate to efficacy.
So, the alternative, continuing with that pregnancy and giving birth to a baby I didn’t want, was unthinkable. I really do applaud those who are able to do that and adopt. I’ve come across so many couples who really want a child and struggle to conceive one themselves, so I totally support that as an option. But it wasn’t the choice for me, I am glad I had that choice.
In the end, the choice is personal. The whole point of this post is to say hey! Let’s change our laws and take abortion out of the Crimes Act and stop treating women like they don’t have brains. Yuhuh.
P.S. I happen to want to reduce the number of abortions, like most people. I believe this is best addressed with good quality sexuality education and building the self esteem of our kids. It’s also part and parcel with the aims of the feminist movement more generally. I intend to do my bit with my own kidlet in this regard.P.P.S. This is a personal blog so I reserve the right to delete comments that I wanna delete and too fricking bad if you don’t like it.