At work this week I was doing research about well… nothing about this to be honest. But I came across an article that stated abortion was actually still considered a criminal activity. Although this article was talking about specific laws and how they only work because ‘we work around them’ – it hit me like a tonne of bricks and made me realise it was time to write about something I had been unknowingly avoiding – Abortion. (Que people clicking the little red X box in the right hand corner of the screen).
I cannot lie and pretend I am an active and brave stand up Pro-Choice advocate because currently – I am not. I am not on picket lines, I do not have a “My Body My Choice” banner and I have yet to speak in any popular public forum about my feelings on abortion. I have been meaning to write about this for years but I always find a reason not to – I’ll do it when I finish this assignment, when I have time, when I’m in a better place and so on and so forth. But at the end of the day – I am just scared, scared of the reaction I will get, scared to open myself up to criticism on this level and ultimately fear that I may not be able to write an article that truly does this area justice.
But now I am more settled – I have a routine that isn’t partying, yoga, student societies, shisha, and cake (Oh how I miss Uni), I have a job in the field I’ve always wanted, I have an income and the majority of my troubles are based around the standard “Who am I… what do I want… can I still eat cookies for breakfast?” early 20s stuff. So I don’t really have an excuse. I have the privileges such as the time, the energy and best of all – the platform in which I can talk about this and I am terrified… but I really think it needs to be done. Since my blog has been getting off the ground, I’ve been ridiculously lucky and had a wonderfully positive response about being so open and honest (thank you from my heart for all the positivity and encouragement btw). However – is this the same for my views on abortion? Will my advocating the right to choose and encouraging the open debate about abortion have the same positive result? (no pun intended). We will see but I feel that someone has to say something.
Why Opening up the Debate Matters
This isn’t an article arguing for being pro-choice, this isn’t even an article to directly advocate a change in sexual education and healthcare availability to women. This is solely about removing the stigma attached to discussing abortion because I think that is the first step.
If we open up the debate we unlock the potential to find solutions to problems that do indeed exist within our society. For example – there are consistently debates about rising teen pregnancy, about contraception, about sexual education in schools – but all of these regularly ignore abortion, which is central to many of these discussions. I am saddened but not actually surprised that people thought having an abortion was as simple as, “Taking a pill and making it go away.” Unfortunately we live in a society that isn’t allowing conversations to occur, that isn’t providing adequate information or tailored education and thus… problems continue.
You don’t have to agree with the act of abortion to support a woman’s right to choose, nor do you have to agree in order to have a mature, civil conversation about it. I can’t say with complete confidence that on all levels – which for me include the spiritual, the theoretical, the philosophical etc. that I agree with the act of an abortion. I respect that it is a controversial and incredibly complex issue and as somebody who refuses to eat animals, dances around wet pavements in order to avoid treading on snails and who has had two abortions – It could be argued that I don’t have any legs left to stand on. But to discuss this would be missing my point. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the act of an abortion, this procedure which is a reproductive health issue is consistently up for debate – with nobody actually talking about the concerns surrounding it.
My Story in Brief
“If there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it” – Toni Morrison
I have had two abortions in my life, one at age 15 and one at age 20. I have had both the operation and medical abortion. I wouldn’t say I was proud of having had two abortions, but I would most certainly say that I am proud of making my own decisions that actually – framed the rest of my life. It became apparent to me over time that regardless of whatever anybody else thought, I had been through something incredibly difficult that shaped the person I am… yet I still felt ashamed of it.
There is a very real stigma attached to having an abortion and talking about it. It made me wonder how many women had either – not had an abortion when it was possibly the right decision for them at that time, or had one and sunk into depression due to not being able to talk about their issues. This made and still makes me incredibly sad. To be honest – the same also stands for men. It must be incredibly hard for men whose partners have had a termination to express their feelings about it.
Overall I began to feel very strongly that brushing the issue of abortion under the carpet just wouldn’t wash anymore and it is damaging the fabric of our society. In today’s culture we openly discuss so many issues – from race and sexuality to emotions and fetishes. So why did 50 Shades of Grey fly off shelves yet trolling the internet for numerous hours on end trying to find an honest book on abortion was an exercise in futility? Why did Channel 4 & 5 which are known for being that little bit risqué showcase men who have sex with blow up dolls, dogging and strippers but not delve into issues surrounding abortion?
The answer is simple – because abortion makes people feel incredibly, incredibly uncomfortable. Even the most liberal of people, when engaged in a debate have been known to say things like “At the end of the day – it is actually murder, and you can’t make people okay with that”. People don’t like discussing it and many people actually, don’t even know how they feel about it – including myself.
So I ask you this – how are we supposed to have real meaningful conversations and work towards improving our society when this topic is on hushed lips and off limits? I really don’t think we can. As a result of this, a couple of years ago I began writing a book. This was unfortunately put on hold due to University commitments but now I am continuing it. I am writing a book that consists of stories of their experiences of abortion by anonymous women. I am within this to not only educate myself, but hopefully produce an engaging and insightful piece of narrative that assists in breaking the silence on the issue of abortion.
“Be an encourager, the world has plenty of critics already” – Dave Willis
I am not naïve to the fact that my writing and interests can be labelled as merely acts of self-indulgence, or one young woman’s damaged needs for some closure on deep-rooted issues, but can I urge you to see beyond that – see it as more, see the larger picture. I am attempting to use the platform I am working hard to create in order to spark a conversation about something that matters. There are so many injustices people face in today’s society but this is one that is close to my heart and I feel needs more attention.
To be entirely honestly, I am not completely happy with this article and probably never will be. When I write my book, it will be the same. It’s such a huge issue but we need to start somewhere. This is a conversation that needs to be had. When I first told my parents that I was writing a book about this they were worried about me being so openly exposed – is it putting my safety in jeopardy? I don’t know… but what I do know is that potentially every fertile females’ physical and mental health is in jeopardy if we don’t really begin to look at this issue.
Until we truly open up the debate and remove the stigma of having an abortion – we cannot have an honest conversation about something so very important that affects many women, and men. Unfortunately in current society abortion is a reality that many people face. Ignoring this issue is simply pushing it underground, shaming women and creating larger social and health issues.