I am beginning to wonder if the debate around abortion should be limited to those who have actually been pregnant.
It seems to me that there are an awful lot of people out there who are quite happy to sound off on the issue but who have absolutely no experience of either pregnancy or abortion.
My views on abortion have changed after my pregnancies. Prior to getting pregnant I have a fairly typical middle class liberal view that I’d probably not want to have a child if I did get pregnant before I (and / or the father) was able to provide for its future. At some point in my twenties I realised that I’d got to that point and that I either needed to be careful with my contraception or accept the risks I was taking because it no longer felt right to abort purely for lifestyle reasons.
Abortion to terminate a pregnancy conceived through violence or that was medically unsafe was much safer ground to me – why would you put a woman through that pregnancy?
Having now been pregnant, having had to live through two pregnancies, neither of which were particularly pleasant my views on abortion have become far clearer – how can you force a woman to stay pregnant if she doesn’t want to be? How can you make her endure all that being pregnant means?
It’s all very well for some to mourn the loss of babies and the children they might have subsequently had but it is very easy to say ‘it’s only 9 months’ when it isn’t your body that is being used to nurture that pregnancy.
I spent months vomiting up everything I ate and drank with Littler – I can only imagine the mental torture of doing that for an unwanted baby. I had 4 and a half months of bedrest to try and keep Littler – imagine doing that for an unwanted baby. Even worse, imagine not wanting to do that for your unborn baby, in hoping that this might be the way that you can terminate the pregnancy and then that a court rules that you must comply with the doctors’ instructions on bed rest.
The decision to submit yourself to pregnancy and birth surely has to ultimately be that of the woman who will have to undergo it. Yes, the father has a right to be involved in the decision, to advocate for his view. Yes there should be debate and discussion about the timescales within which abortions should happen.
But ultimately in my view, women themselves, especially those who have been through the huge physical changes that pregnancy engenders, have the right to tell those who have no idea what a pregnancy does to your body to leave the debate to those in the know.
Sometimes you have to have walked the path to truly understand the challenges on it. Ultimately it is the woman’s body and she has the final say in what happens to it.
What do you think?