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Blogging for choice January 23, 2006

Posted by Winter in reproductive rights.
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I know I’m a little late with this post and we’re in the UK, but I wanted to contribute something to the discussion.

Having been raised a catholic I was active in the pro-life movement from the ages of 12 to 16. I went to a catholic school where such activities were strongly encouraged. I didn’t question it. I went to LIFE and SPUC events and took part in sponsored walks to raise money for these organisations. I always took the pro-life side in classroom debates. I wrote some of my GCSE coursework on pro-life thinking. I didn’t actually protest outside abortion clinics, but I might have done, given half the chance. We were told that life began at conception, that all life is sacred and so abortion is murder: period. No grey areas were admitted. It was an utterly ruthless morality. Every few months a man from SPUC came to the school to give us a talk on the subject. He brought slides to show us of late term abortions, usually from the 1970s: red and raw looking foetuses in buckets of blood, little half-developed arms and legs. We were not given a choice as to whether or not we viewed these images because choice was never a part of the picture. And I swallowed it all.

Then, when I was 16, this man came to the school and told us about a day he spent campaigning in a town, with the pictures of foetuses of course, and a woman came up to the stall. She looked at the pictures and began to cry. She told him that she’d had an abortion years ago and had never known what the foetus would have looked like. The man was smiling, triumphant – one up for the pro-life movement. Something went cold within me at that moment, because I realised that he didn’t care about that woman or her feelings or the reasons that drove her to make her difficult decision all those years ago, or the effect his pictures may have had on her life. He only cared about proving that abortion is bad. Then he moved on to his heroic rape victim story. While I never actually heard a pro lifer say that raped women should be forced to have the baby, they would change the subject when questioned and tell us the story of a woman who did and it all turned out well in the end. I was 16, pretty much a woman as far as I was concerned and, suddenly, I thought to myself, “Would I have the baby if I got pregnant from being raped?” and the answer came back a shockingly determined, angry “No.” Perhaps it was at this moment that I began to realise the implications of being a woman and imagined what it would actually be like to have pregnancy forced upon me. I remember it as a moment when I grew up a bit and, over the next few years, I slowly revised my thinking on abortion until I came to my current position.

When the feminist revolution is done, when every girl is raised to have high self- esteem and empowered by society to say “No,” when all young people receive proper sex education, when everyone has access to free and safe contraception, when men take equal responsibility for preventing pregnancy with women, when there is no stigma attached to single motherhood, when every woman who does get pregnant unexpectedly has a real choice because having the baby will not cause her to lose her degree or job or house or ruin her life in any other way because women are always fully supported when they have unplanned children, when no woman is ever raped, on that day perhaps we will be pleased to find that the need for abortion is limited. Until that day, access to safe, legal abortion for all women is essential and must be defended because history has already shown us that a world with enforced childbirth does not represent a “culture of life.”

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Comments»

1. Andrea - January 23, 2006

In my teens, before I was capable of thought, I was anti-abortion. Not protesting level, but I was against it.

Now I’m older, and am capable of understanding the massive impact being forced to have a child could have, I’ve completely revised my thinking.
I’ve watched too many women I know get pregnant and have their lives shrink around them. I would never allow myself to be in that position. Children are so limiting to womens’ lives, and since that is the case, full and easy access to abortion is absolutely paramount.

Brilliant post, Winter.

2. Louise Whittle - January 24, 2006

I was glad Sue Axon lost her case yesterday when trying to overturn under-16s getting advice around sexual health and abortion.

There was a telling piece in The Guardian yesterday from a young woman who got pregnant when she was 14. She couldn’t tell her mum as she would have chucked her out of the house.

If Axon had got her way then doctors would be obliged to tell a parent if their daughter is pregnant. Where would that leave that 14-year old? Homeless. Would Axon believe that it serves her right for having sex?

I know that would have happened to me when I was that age if I got pregnant as my parents would have certainly disowned me for “bringing shame on the family”.

One of the first campaigns I was ever involved in while still at school was the campaign against Victoria Gillick as I believed the woman was absolutely wrong! I joined NAC at the same time.

That is why it is so important to defend a woman’s right (that includes free, safe, legal abortion) to choose and to give open and honest information about sex and sexuality. The finger-wagging morality of the likes of Gillick and Axon and SPUC and Life make me soooo angry. How dare they!

Though I agree with the sentiments expressed by Winter Woods I would say that even in, say a socialist society, there should still be the option of free abortion as not every woman wants to have children.

Louise

3. Winter - January 24, 2006

I would say that even in, say a socialist society, there should still be the option of free abortion as not every woman wants to have children.

Actually I agree with this point. I think it should always be available. When I said the need for abortion might be limited, I didn’t mean to say access to abortion should be limited. It’s just that if we lived in the kind of society I’d like to see, I think less women would need to have abortions.

I was pleased that Sue Axon lost her case too. I’m sorry she regrets her own abortion, but the loss of doctor-patient confidentiality for under-16s would open the way to all kinds of horrors.

4. The huntress - January 24, 2006

Yes.
I cannot say anything better than that last paragraph.

5. Ghostpaw - January 24, 2006

Found this blog via the F Word e-zine, and just wanted to say, especcially about the last paragraph – word, sister, you have got it so right.

6. Winter - January 24, 2006

Thank you. Oh, quoted on the F-word. Scary.

7. barb - January 25, 2006

that’s an awesome post

8. Lori - January 26, 2006

Well written stuff. So glad I found your blog.


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