Something to cheer

Hadley Freeman:

The column she wrote:

During the Irish abortion referendum there was a lot of talk about the extreme cases in which legal abortion is not just a right but a necessity: rape victims, foetuses with fatal abnormalities. But it would be dishonest not to mention the more banal stories like mine. Back then, I was with my first boyfriend, whom I loved very much. I was starting to recover from anorexia – which is why I hadn’t been more careful: I assumed I couldn’t conceive – and my boyfriend was then no more emotionally equipped than I was to look after a baby.

But the truth is, we – I – absolutely could have had that baby. I would have had to give up my job and move back in with my parents. My relationship would have eventually ended, and it would have taken years for me to be able to support myself and the baby. But, sure, I could have done it.

But she didn’t want to, and that should be all there is to it. It’s her body and her life so she should get to decide.

Since I had twins at 37, I’ve become even more pro-choice, because I now know the realities of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Making anyone go through that when they don’t want to is so obviously self-defeating, it verges on the surreal.

My story is not every story, any more than an anti-choice campaigner’s love for their children is an argument against abortion. Women’s needs are different. That’s why they need a choice. Even some pro-choicers talk about abortion with distaste. But I love my abortion. It gave me the freedom to work, to choose when I wanted children and who I wanted them with. My now-long-ago-ex-boyfriend and I are not yoked together by a baby we weren’t ready for. And my abortion was so free of shame and fear that it has never affected me emotionally. The miscarriage that I had at 38, I think about every day, because I wanted that baby; my abortion at 23, I never think about at all. While I couldn’t control the outcome of the former, I am lucky to live in a place that let me control the latter.

Being able to put a stop to a pregnancy you don’t want is a thing to rejoice in.

I wrote about it in Free Inquiry back in 2014:

The more we buy into the meme that abortion is always a tragic lesser-of-two-evils situation, the more we lose sight of the reality, which is that for a woman or girl who does not want to be pregnant, abortion is a glorious human invention, a life-salvaging bit of technology.

Of course it is! It’s not the case that everyone everywhere would welcome any pregnancy, no matter what. Imagine if pregnancy were random, an abrupt unrequested gift of the gods that could happen to either sex at any time. Would it be a joy to the recipient every single time, in all possible circumstances? Obviously not. The same applies when only one sex is affected—traditionally the inferior, expendable, subordinate sex, the one whose whole purpose is to reproduce—and the chain of causation is understood. Just like anyone else, girls and women may not want to be pregnant at a particular time, just as they can not want to have a demanding job or a difficult project at a particular time. The existence of a method of ending a pregnancy is a good thing for women and girls in that situation. It’s not tragic. What’s tragic is the huge number of women who don’t have that option.

Hooray that Irish women now will.

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