A few days ago, a picture popped up in my newsfeed. It showed a dead embryo, covered in blood and fluids, and the caption was something along the lines of, “You think it’s your body? Think again.”
It took me said few days to calm down sufficiently to be able to express in a coherent way everything that went through my head when I caught my glimpse of that pic, and I still find it hard. Because no. Just no.
What is going on in people’s heads, I wonder? Do you think women have abortions for fun? Because we can? Do you think it’s an easy decision, taken lightly in the blink of an eye, never to haunt us again?
No. It’s the hardest decision anyone can take. And it haunts us for the rest of our lives. We really don’t need some self-righteous asshole to pile on more guilt. Especially if that self-righteous asshole is male. Why? Because, I’m sorry to say, if you’re a man, you really don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Yes, you’re probably an awesome dad, and I bet you love your kids as much as your wife does. But they didn’t grow inside you. You can never understand that, no matter how much you try. I wish you could, but you can’t. And ultimately, you’re not the one who decides about the child’s life or death. The decision is hers, and hers alone. You can help her, support her, be there for her, but you won’t be the one to sit down on that gynecologist’s chair. The ultrasound pics they’ll show you won’t show your insides. The signature won’t be yours.
With both my pregnancies, I knew that I was pregnant before my gynecologist did. Not because of some silly little test. I simply knew. I loved my kids before they entered the tadpole stage, before I had seen those little bean-shaped critters on the ultrasound pics. That’s just what you do when there’s life growing inside of you. You speak to them, you sing to them, you gently stroke your belly hoping they’ll feel it (and maybe stop kicking your kidneys, because that really hurts). You stop sleeping, because there’s no comfortable position anymore in the whole wide world, the baby starts tap dancing the moment you settle down, and you need to pee five times a night anyway, what with them sitting on your bladder. You feel sick all the time, and tired, and you’re a mess of fucked-up hormones. Your legs blow up, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get hemorrhoids, too (that’s sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice). Pregnancy sucks. And still, it’s the most wonderful, magical time you’ll ever experience. You look down at the swollen barrel you’ve become, and see the little alien move (Barrel roll! Roundhouse kick! And….mom’s kidneys! Ten points!)
You don’t just go and kill something like that without a second thought.
So why do it at all, you’re asking? Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere. Those women who have abortions, you know, they have reasons. I’ll name a few for you.
Where I hail from, at twelve weeks pregnant there’s this test called nuchal translucency scan. It gives you a so and so high percentage possibility that your child will be born with some sort of disability. I remember that day in my first pregnancy. I took a long, hard look at myself in the mirror, wondering what I’d do if the results were bad, for lack of a better word. I slapped the question as soon as it reared its head. I knew I couldn’t kill the child inside of me based on some more or less reliable test result. I knew I would have this child, and love it either way.
I lucked out. Others don’t. Now please don’t come arguing with God’s will and gift and whatnot. It’s easy for you and me, sitting here with our healthy children. Do you remember that big sigh of relief you breathed when they first slept a whole night through, and you didn’t have to wake up nine times and were a groggy mess in the morning? And the even bigger sigh when they started school and you finally got a few precious hours each day back for yourself? You don’t get that with a disabled child. You’ll be on a 24/7 shift, 52 weeks per year, every year for the rest of your, or their, life. And now remember all the plans you had. How you wanted to, uh, go to France. See the Grand Canyon. Anything, really. Sounds selfish? Maybe. But it’s okay. You don’t have to feel guilty if a part of you realizes you can relate to the thought of not having that child.
Rape is another reason. I once heard someone, I don’t remember his name, but he was from the US, a republican, and of course, male (have I already mentioned that when it comes to pregnancy, the male part of the population really has no clue what they’re talking about?), say that a woman’s body has a way of shutting these things down, so if she gets pregnant, she really must have wanted it.
Shut. The fuck. Up. If it’s that time of the month, you’ll get pregnant, like it or not. There’s no magic involved. It’s simple biology. And now imagine giving birth to a child who may or may not have your attacker’s features. Who may or may not look up at you with their father’s eyes. A living reminder of the horrors you went through.
Of course, these reasons are the extremes. There are much ‘lesser’ reasons, too. A history of preeclampsia in the family. Diabetes. The man in question upped and left and the woman can’t make it on her own, or can’t bear the thought of having his child now that he’s gone. There’s a multitude of reasons, some might seem more valid than others, but rest assured, they all exist, and they all have an impact, and unless you know exactly the circumstances, you can’t possibly judge. Again, I don’t believe there are many women out there who would take this decision lightly, for the hell of it. We don’t need your guilt. We need your understanding.
Maybe, they could have used protection. Or maybe not. There might have been pressure involved, and I’m not even talking rape here, just your average pushy boyfriend calling her frigid, and she didn’t want to disappoint. Oh, she should have stood up for herself? Told him where to go? Yeah. Like society is encouraging that sort of behavior in women. We’ve come a long way, but we’re still told to be pleasant more often than not. Also, it does take two. It’s not only the woman’s responsibility to ensure ‘accidents’ don’t happen. Imagine the woman pulling out, zipping up her pants and leaving. Unheard of, huh? Wombs are a bitch.
She could just have the child and give it up for adoption? Sure. Scroll back up to where I talk about how pregnancy affects the body. There’s more than the few points I mention. And even more when it comes to birth. Imagine peeing your pants everytime you sneeze, because your pelvis muscles are fucked up beyond repair. Or not being able to feel a thing from your belly button down to where your pubic hair starts, because the C-section you had cut through your nerves. And that’s just the minor inconveniencies. Go, do some research. Google is available to you. Or talk to your female friends. They might not want to, but if you show some genuine interest, they probably will.
Yes, the child is a human being, with rights. But let’s not forget this: So is the mother.
By the way, no matter how civilized and modern and developed we are, death is still an option. In 2013, 18.5 mothers out of 100,000 births died in the US, numbers rising. You think it’s not my body? Think again. Not every woman is willing to sacrifice her health for a child she never wanted in the first place. Women are usually good at sacrificing, but even we draw the line somewhere. Evil, selfish women.
(For the record: I never had an abortion. Doesn’t keep me from being able to empathize.)