Dear Abortion Rights,
Until about eighteen months ago I think I took you completely for granted. I thought you would be there if I ever needed you but hoped I wouldn’t find myself in the position to need you. Then I joined Twitter and my eyes were really opened to the precarious position our abortion rights are in. It started to scare me.
Then I had an unplanned pregnancy- at that time I was in the depths of PTSD and tokophobia from my first incredibly traumatic birth and felt completely and utterly terrified about continuing with that pregnancy. For the first time ever in my life I started consider my options about terminating the pregnancy, my head was spinning but I felt completely unable to go through the horrors I had experienced last time again. I only considered it for less than 24 hours as by then I had started to lose the pregnancy- it was ectopic. I have to be very honest here- I was relieved- the choice was taken out of my hands. I didn’t have to make that incredibly hard decision, but in that time my eyes were opened into what a difficult and traumatic decision it can be. (I subsequently sought help for my PTSD and went on to have my very much wanted and cherished Omble)
With the ectopic pregnancy I was rushed to hospital and my ruptured tube and the ?growing ?living embryo was removed. Obviously no embyo can survive that procedure but not having the operation would have resulted in my death, I was already bleeding internally by the time we sought treatment, who knows if the embryo was still alive by that point. Thankfully most anti-abortioners are “okay” with ectopic surgery as they see it that the removal of the tube is necessary to the survival of the mother and the embryo death is a by-product of that- ie. the embryo was not deliberately killed (but this gets into a confusing arena when methotrexate is used to treat the ectopic pregnancy and try and save the woman’s fallopian tube and thus preserving her fertility). I shouldn’t have been surprised or upset to discover there are some extreme anti-choice zealots who would prefer to see a woman and her unborn child die than save the life of the woman because in doing so causes the death of a precious embryo
and it’s “gods will” afterall, an embryo that has zero hope of survival without its “host”.
From then on I started to realise there were a million different reasons why a woman might need to end a pregnancy (including these reasons which made me cry), and although sometimes I used to judge reasons as being “good or bad” reasons to have an abortion, I am now of the opinion that it is a decision that no woman enters into lightly and it is none of my business about her choice other than that I 100% support her right to choose. I cannot judge, for I am not her or going through her experience.
Since then I started to see more and more attacks on our abortion rights and I’m now getting really worried. There is so much chip chip chipping away that they will slowly but surely be eroded. Abortion has been legal since 1967 but that law really needs a massive overhaul but not in the way anti-choicers would want but in a way that gives women more autonomy over their bodies. Why should it need two doctors to sign off on the procedure anyway? surely once a woman has made her informed choice that is what she is doing the only consent signature that should matter is hers? Also the way the law currently stands and the recent negative media furore means that new doctors are now being deterred from becoming involved in abortion services. This really scares me- and is exactly what the anti-choicers want- reduced access to abortions meaning more women being denied their choice and forced into continuing with crisis pregnancies with no thought or care for the long term impact on such an unwanted child born into such circumstances.
The right wing media currently seize on any abortion story and whip people up into a frenzy about it without looking at the background to the issues and the underlying anti-choice motives behind such stories. For example:
- We have had the counselling amendment attempted to be made law (anti-choice tactic to disturb access to abortion- unbiased counselling is already available to women who want it),
- We have had the sex selection issue re. Doctors “breaking” the abortion law even though according to the letter of the law no doctor broke the law (link)
- Andrew Lansley recently ordered the care quality commission to carry out spotchecks that found that 1in 5 abortion clinics were breaking the law (re. two doctors signing the paperwork). This report was politically motivated and cost a huge amount of money- taking CQC away from their actual necessary work. This is subject of awesome analysis by my pal @sarahditum (link and link)
Seriously Britain wake up and smell the chipping away of your rights. The Anti-choice movement in states has parts of the US in a stranglehold where women in a very vulnerable position are being horrifically violated by a transvaginal ultrasound (a completely unnecessary medical test) before they can terminate the pregnancy, resulting in women being put in devastating situations like this. There are women being forced to carry dying babies because of laws preventing putting a humane end to the baby’s life and causing the mother untold mental anguish & toment (link). This is absolutely disgusting, and don’t be complacent and think it couldn’t happen here- the Anti-choicers are increasingly using US style tactics to try and erode the existing rights we do have.
I’m genuinely scared and angry about these constant attack on the abortion rights we do have. I may never need to utilise my abortion rights, but I am not naive- I’m pretty fertile (four pregnancies so far) and sexually active with potentially another 15 or so fertile years in me and no method of contraception is 100% effective (I will get sterilised once I am 100% sure my family is definitely complete but for now that is not an option). I am in a fortunate position that another unexpected pregnancy would not necessarily be the end of the world for me but it’s not just about my rights- face it 1 in 3 women will have had a termination before they are 45 and what about the abortion rights for my girls in the future? Like many mothers I hope they never face a crisis pregnancy where they need to consider their options, and need to make that incredibly difficult decision, but I’m really really worried about their future rights to access safe legal abortion. After all in countries where abortion is highly restricted there is barely any difference in abortion rate but a huge increase in unsafe abortion putting many women’s health and lives at serious risk (link).
So abortion rights- I am writing to tell you I am going to fight for you. Fight for me, fight for my girls, fight for my friends and for women I don’t know. I am scared to post this letter because it is a personal letter and I have seen some of the vile tactics used by the anti-choice movement to quell opposition but part of me standing up to fight involves me standing up and being counted.
And so I stand.
Forever fighting for you.