abortion

Shout your abortion

Following the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood services in America (state funded), abortion activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion to counter the arguments made by zealous anti choicers. If you’ve ever followed the ever present attacks on family planning or been involved in actions to support your local abortion clinic you’ll have been confronted by some very strange people indeed. With this in mind I knew that tweeting in solidarity would provoke a backlash, I just wasn’t as prepared for the kinds of things completely random people on the internet would say to me (and me, a seasoned survivor of trolls).

I tweeted:

I didn’t say I’d had an abortion or that I agreed or disagreed with termination (for the record, it’s your body, your choice) but I knew it would reach those people whose lives it had saved, at least those who acknowledged the established life within the pregnant person carrying a promise of potential life (20% of first time pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, 80% of those before 12 weeks gestation), which is in no way a baby or a person (person being a societal construct). When a foetus is squatting in your uterus it does not cancel out the life already in existence, without which the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Bizarrely this fact seems to have escaped these people.

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Nope, not what I said at all

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Logic clearly evades you for refusing to accept there is life in the person carrying the foetus.

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This tweet is particularly interesting because it feeds into the idea that pregnancy is essentially a woman’s fault. By opening my legs I am consenting to a foetus being installed in there. If this person could acknowledge the sperm provider and the condom issue many men have (yeah sure, they’re ‘too tight’) and spread that responsibility about a bit I’d be less inclined to believe they were woman hating scum.

For example all these people with their righteous war on people who carry foetuses (I doubt very much any of these people has even considered the fact that other genders are also capable of pregnancy, this is a specific hatred driven at cis women for not being masculine/male/patriarchal).

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The idea that all unwanted pregnancies can be attributed to selfish promiscuous women is entirely misogynistic and anti woman. These people would probably accuse a woman of entrapment if she happened to get pregnant and wanted to *keep* the foetus. Similarly there is no sympathy for women choosing to abort because their life depends on it. Going back to my original tweet, I said it because I used to work as an advocate for women in abusive relationships and have seen firsthand the violence inflicted on women for being pregnant in the first place. 30% of all domestic abuse begins in pregnancy. This is because the pregnant partner is suddenly vulnerable and dependent. Controlling abusive people use this to their advantage. It’s not uncommon for perps to threaten forced miscarriage, the idea that they put the foetus in there and they can also take it out should the victim refuse their every whim. There are people who cannot grasp the complexity of human relationships, and crisis points, relationship breakdowns, never mind the systems we have created to control people according to kyriarchy so it is a bit of a reach on my part to expect compassion.

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You are not representative of almost 8 billion people worldwide.

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76% of women faced a further incident of violence for having the audacity to leave. The period after a survivor leaves the perp is the most dangerous, “if you leave I will hunt you down and kill your kids”. 

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This guy thinks we should run all decisions by him because it’s all about him. It’s not and he is nobody.

This assertion that complete strangers have of themselves as the saviours of the unborn would have more merit if they were willing to consider the life of the pregnant person but they cease to be human from the point of conception instead acting as a vessel for the precious new life everyone’s going to forget about once it moves out of the uterus. The pregnant person will be left with the foetus they did not want.. What’s that you say?

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Complete strangers think it’s ok to tell me to sacrifice my body and wallow in the guilt of my unwanted pregnancy which I’ll then have to hand over to a stranger, the system, uncertainty. Pregnancy can be life threatening, from the phsyical difficulties to the mental strain it can put on a person, no one has the right to torture you for having the misfortune of being born with a uterus. If pregnancy doesn’t kill you then labour might. Cis men have no say in the abortion debate because they will never carry a foetus or suffer the fallout if things go wrong. The reason they are so vocal on the anti-choice scene is because they are redundant if they do not exert patriarchal power and control. They won’t ever create life so they control it.

From the frightening to the downright ridiculous, opponents of bodily autonomy reveal more about themselves than the people they target, they’re nosy and perverse, poking around in strange uteri.

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Ah, Americans.

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I keep looking for the illegal thing I’m supposed to have said but to no avail.

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If a person is feeling suicidal cos they’ve been forcibly impregnated, an abortion is life saving and I would go as far as saying therapeutic in terms of their recovery, and regaining control of their own life.

Every single one of these people and the many I didn’t document failed to see the hypocrisy in their words. The life of the foetus cancels out the life of the person carrying it, without whom the foetus wouldn’t exist at all. Personally I’m not here to change your thoughts on abortion or bring you round to my superior way of thinking – something anti-choicers may want to examine in themselves – but to ask you to cast the first stone only when you can say you are completely sin free.

Also, this stance on abortion seems to be as far as they’ve got in terms of a world view and how that actually works in practice. They’re all ‘save the foetuses’ but how many of these advocates shared the same enthusiasm for the precious lives of Syria’s existing children, rejected by Europe, asleep in the freezing cold, barely surviving? Or the fully formed babies with given names blown to pieces in Palestine? How about the severely disfigured infants of Fallujah? Selective outrage makes a mockery of the whole pro-life movement. The planet is exhausted by our reproductive efforts, live viable children are treated as though vermin, domestic abuse blights the lives of some of those foetuses saved by those ignorant of life in its entirety, yet hellbent on power and control. That’s all it is.

He Said (TW)

HE accused my 16 year old virginal mother of maliciously impregnating herself.

HE demanded she abort but changed his mind on hearing two heartbeats instead of one.

HE read the Azaan into my ears and shaved the baby bird down on my head.

HE said to speak against my elders meant I was evil and a slap on my 3 year old face would rectify this.

HE said I couldn’t wear shorts cos my five year old legs were too tempting.

HE said I could not play sport cos the shape of my vulva was on display.

HE said a bike would damage my virginity.

HE said to speak to boys was confirmation I was a slag

HE said I mustn’t speak to the white kids cos then I was just as bad as them.

HE said I must learn this alien language and chant with perfect enunciation and THEN God would love me.

HE said if I refused I would burn in Hell’s eternal fires.

HE said the angels on my shoulders would weigh my heart against my deeds and then I would be judged.

HE said I was mother’s daughter which of course was proof that I was a slag.

HE said that I purposely lost the £5 I was supposed to give to the mosque.

HE watched in delight as my family slapped me in front of him.

HE said I was the best in my Arabic class. Maybe that’s why HE would slap me across my developing chest. Maybe that’s why HE would run his hand along the length of my thigh.

HE said I wasn’t the pretty twin but more academic instead. My puppy fat was confirmation of this.

HE said I was an ‘earthquake’ a ‘bulldozer’ and ‘the Himalayas’ when my body went through the first change.

HE said I was hairy and ugly and a bit mannish with my deep husky voice.

HE said I would burn in Hell-fire for wearing my fashionable cross.

HE said someone ought to teach me a lesson for eating the wrong kind of meat.

HE gave me a glare when I ordered my alcopop and the look that said he’d see me later when I questioned the pint in his hand.

HE responded he ‘didn’t remember’ when I said I would make him pay for what he had done to me.

HE blamed it all on my fantastical teenage head.

HE laughed as he fought us children off and away from our mother.

HE thought it was funny when we sprang to her defence.

HE said I would burn in hell when I challenged God and spat that he really didn’t exist.

HE said he’d have to teach me a lesson, I said “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”.

HE yelped in pain when I bit him on the nose and it hurt when the punches rained down but inside I was smiling because I had finally hurt HIM. HE was getting weaker.

Or I was getting stronger.

HE tried to knock down the door to my safe place and I called the police on him instead. HE was told to leave or HE would be going to jail so HE did but HE never let me forget this.

HE tried to kiss me when I was just 15. HE told me no one would believe me if I ever told the truth.

HE said he’d heard I was a slag so HE thought HE’d give it a go.

HE found me with some of my innocence intact and proceeded to chip away at what was left.

HE would cry and beg forgiveness for attempting to penetrate me without my consent.

HE used me, pushed me around, and turned all my friends against me.

HE told me I wasn’t pretty enough to be his main girl. HE said it was my own entire fault.

HE said his mother was a ‘vessel’.

HE would ‘share’ me one day with his friend. HE didn’t even deny it when I said that it was rape.

HE knew I was broken and that’s the only reason HE made any impact at all. If I saw HIM now, I would laugh in his face.

HE would promise the world but never deliver.

HE would tell me I was the prettiest girl in the room but at home he’d treat me like shit.

HE said I was mediocre and I’d never be anything but a girl from The Rock.

HE said work was more important, his friends were too and I would just have to like it or lump it.

HE said I was a slag, a whore and all the other things too.

HE said I was only good for a shag.

HE said my illness was all in my head. The mind being a powerful tool.

HE said he wouldn’t pander to me any more (there was pandering?)

HE would let his friends intimidate me.

HE didn’t bat an eyelid when some of them rubbed up against me, at full mast.

HE said I was lying when I disclosed advances from one of his other freak friends.

HE made me feel unsafe and uncared for.

HE denies it to this day. (There’s a pattern emerging here)

HE said he loved me but that wasn’t enough. HE said God’s love meant more.

HE said I was alright now I was on the ‘white side’.

HE said now he’d tried Asian, he’d never go back.

HE said he was only joking when he called me a slag and would apologise every time he’d say it but this wouldn’t stop him from saying it again.

HE tried to force me to do a job he thought would be good for me. A nursery nurse to his SAC.

HE said I was silly for thinking I was a feminist because I didn’t hate men.

HE said for us to be together, I’d have to follow him wherever his career took him.

HE didn’t like it when I said no.

HE would snarl and shout and make me feel small.

HE would scan my entire body for rogue solitary hairs and grimace as if they were the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen.

HE kept company with people who thought of me as nothing more than a Paki.

HE didn’t like being challenged. One day HE simply refused to pick up the phone.

I sold the diamond ring HE gave me.

HE said I wasn’t in any physical pain, despite the two operations I’d had on my back.

HE said I should think before I speak, my life’s woes were none of his business. HE just didn’t want to know.

HE said he understood my request for an open relationship but then changed his mind.

HE was either my lover exclusively or a therapist shagging some random girl.

HE has been standing over my shoulder, breathing down my neck before I was even born.

HE defines my role, my character, my options and my path.

HE’s not allowed into my life anymore but still, he lingers.

HE’s on my TV, on my street, in my dreams.

HE is always the same; it doesn’t matter what colour he is or how tall he might be.

HE is patriarchy and HE oppresses me.

Why Do We Abort?

Jane* was a client at one of the places I worked. She was a working mum, barely making enough to break even with childcare costs but she preferred to work. She had been accessing our service for a while. We provided support to women still in abusive relationships, safety planning so as to reduce the frequency of abusive incidents.

She adored her small child; she was maternal and caring and would often begin a conversation with an update on how her baby was doing. Except on this occasion she was fighting to get her words out. She’d called me at the office, asked for an emergency appointment, she’d just found out she was pregnant. I asked her what she wanted to do. “I can’t keep it.” She repeated this sentence a few times. I asked her why. “Because the last time I was pregnant, I lived in fear for my baby’s life.”

30% of domestic violence starts in pregnancy.

Between 4 and 9 pregnant women in every 100 are abused during and after their pregnancies.

(Women’s Aid Statistics)

That’s right. When a woman is at her most vulnerable, most in need of support to protect and nurture the life she is creating within, she has an increased likelihood of experiencing violence at the hands of the father of her child. I’m reminded of a training course where a male middle manager responded to this fact by saying “women are a nightmare when they’re pregnant; I’m not surprised some men react”. An acquaintance shared how his father had beaten his mother when she was suffering postnatal depression. He’d grown up believing his father had been pushed to the limit. It is only when I challenged his belief by pointing out that pregnancy is a difficult time for women, many people appreciate this and make allowances, decent people at least, that he began to see it differently. Personally, I could not understand how he had ever felt his father had been justified. But then, this acquaintance had also been beaten.

Jane felt guilty she had already subjected one of her children to this man. She had been taking steps to leave him, setting a little money aside each week, moving her baby’s toys out one at a time. She did not want to have sex with him. She tried to say no at the start but knew better than to say it again. And so she became pregnant.

“I can’t keep it”. I had to respect her wishes so I arranged for her to attend a Marie Stopes clinic. I went with her. She held my hand whilst we waited, but barely spoke. I wanted to say it was OK if she changed her mind but didn’t want to sound like I was suggesting anything. I just reassured her that I was there to talk, without judgement, if she needed. She smiled gratefully whenever she looked at me and my heart broke a little for her. She was a good woman and an exceptional mother. She shouldn’t have to go through this. But I knew she had no choice. The alternative would mean reinforcing their relationship, enduring another nine months of physical and mental torture, the effects of which would leave a lasting impression on the foetus inside her womb. Attachment and dependency on a person who seeks to control and manipulate and abuse, even his own children should he see fit. She wanted a better life for her children.

I stand by her choice because I have seen the alternative. Abigail* had three children and was expecting a fourth from her new partner. He was a known sex offender. Because of her faith, Abigail did not have the choice to abort. She was however frightened for her life. She endured being dragged around by her hair in the 8th month of her pregnancy. Whilst she was in labour, she had to defend herself from an attack, struggling to prise his fingers from her neck as she experienced another contraction. Following multiple agency intervention, her children were eventually removed from her by social services for neglecting the needs of her children by remaining with her partner. It did not matter that Abigail had been warned she would die if she ever did. The perpetrator was not being brought to justice through a lack of physical evidence, yet they had enough evidence to call her a bad mother and take her children away. How many pregnancies start off unwanted and end up in the care system?

And then there was Sarah*, a very close friend of mine. Following a casual relationship, she discovered she was quite happy to be expecting. She hadn’t known her partner very long but he seemed nice enough and in agreement about the pregnancy. They sailed through the first few weeks, excited about their little secret. One day she called me. “I can’t do it”, she simply said. They’d been out together at the work’s Christmas do. She thought he’d had enough to drink and attempted to hold his arm. He responded by pushing her down. My brave and strong friend did not want a child with a man who did not care about harming her or the baby. She was upset before the termination. And through it. But she maintained she’d made the right choice.

One of the main reasons we abort is to protect the future. Pregnancy is vulnerability. No longer are you only responsible for yourself but innocent new life that does not deserved to be abused. “Pro-lifers” argue that the foetus has rights, more rights than that of the mother. Despite the mother’s mental and physical well-being, she is a vessel bringing forth Mr Man’s seed and effectively signs over her rights. Is it preferable that unwanted pregnancies are forced to continue thus resulting in unwanted children who will have possibly been abused, growing into abusers themselves when they are big enough?

When a 12 year old school friend had to abort, where were the “pro-lifers” and their campaigns to make fathers more accountable?

How many domestic violence refuges offer mother and baby units? Not very many.

This war on women and our wombs is not about the brazen baby killers. It’s about control.

And patriarchy.

Again.

*Names have been changed

** I am aware that this entry has received some attention from ‘no choicers’ who think I have chosen to justify ‘killing of the unborn’ by using domestic violence as some sort of get out clause. They have made the assumption that this is an easy option rather than tackling the abuse and helping mothers leave abusive relationships. *sigh*

I have been involved in women’s services almost 10 YEARS as a refuge worker, outreach floating support in the community and advocate for women at risk of domestic abuse, at crisis point and survivors. I am fully aware of the support available to women both through the state and various charitable organisations.

No choicer comments:

“The fact that these women DO have a choice, i.e. to leave their abusive relationships”

NO THEY DON’T. 76% OF WOMEN LEAVING ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS WILL FACE ANOTHER INCIDENT OF VIOLENCE FOR DARING TO LEAVE THEIR PARTNER. WOMAN IS PROPERTY, WOMAN HAS NO AUTONOMY.

“If she is helped to extricate herself from the abuse and domestic violence, then so will her children be too!”

EASY SPEAKING AS A MAN ISN’T IT? THE ONUS IS ON A VULNERABLE WOMAN TO GET HERSELF AND HER CHILDREN OUT. WHERE IS THE PRESSURE ON VIOLENT MEN TO STOP BEING VIOLENT?

“If there is a lack of mother and baby united in women’s refuges, campaign and fundraise for more!”

MAKING ASSUMPTIONS AGAIN.. NO CHOICER, DO YOU KNOW THE DEVASTATING EFFECT TORY GOVERNMENT CUTS HAVE ALREADY HAD ON WOMEN? DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW RECESSION OFTEN HURTS THE MOST VULNERABLE, IE WOMEN AND CHILDREN LEAVING VIOLENT RELATIONSHIPS? SUPPORT FOR VULNERABLE WOMEN AND CHILDREN IS NOT CONSIDERED IMPORTANT UNDER RICH WHITE MEN.

“If society is lacking in holding fathers to account, campaign and politically lobby for a change in the law so they can be – but don’t think that you can say “father’s have no rights” if then you wish to make them accountable, it doesn’t work!”

NO CHOICER, THESE THINGS WILL NOT HAPPEN IN MY LIFETIME. IT PAINS ME THAT PROTECTING VULNERABLE WOMEN AND CHILDREN IS MY LIFE’S WORK AND YET I KNOW, DESPITE MY BEST EFFORTS AND OF THE THOUSANDS OF WOMEN WORKING TIRELESSLY EVERYDAY, WOMEN EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WILL CONTINUE TO ABORT THEIR PREGNANCIES BECAUSE.. PATRIARCHY.

THAT’S YOU SIR. WITH YOUR JUDGMENT AND CONTROL. YOUR RELIGIONS AND YOUR PATHETIC OPINIONS.

Solidarity with my sisters. It is your body, it is your choice. #Feminism