Massive trigger warning – clue is in the title. Do no continue reading this blog post if you feel that it might upset you.
Now, a beautiful friend of mine, based in America, shared a post last night. It was beyond upsetting. I was swearing before i even opened it up to read. Now, it is only fair that I share the article with you if I am basing a blog on my reaction to it … well if you want to see if Click Here.
This is the opening stanza of the article :
On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed one of the most vicious anti-abortion bills in the country into law. It forbids women from getting abortions in cases of fetal disability, requires women to inter or cremate fetal remains, and a whole host of other fucked-up things.
Now, at the risk of spending the remainder of this article swearing again and not being entirely eloquent, I want to look at abortion. I want to discuss what is wrong with the attitude that has made this law possible.
To do that, I will give you some background. I have had an abortion. I was … 23 years old, in a relationship, using contraception , it was an accident. But lets go back a little further. My own mother had a rather… relaxed attitude to abortions, how they effected people. Watching Sex and the City and it was repeatedly implied that abortions were used as a form of birth control, and speaking to people working in hospitals again, implied that abortions are widely used, and repeatedly, by women as a form of birth control as others might use a condom or implant. So you will have to forgive me for thinking that, I would be okay.
I was pretty stubborn about being pregnant. Missed periods aren’t always the best indicator. I guess the fact that I was in deep, physical pain if I didn’t eat when hungry could have been an indicator. As it was, I did buy a pregnancy test, and discussed it with my partner. We were sensible in our discussion, not having our own house, I was at college waiting to go to Uni (mature student… what a joke), we realised that we were just not ready to be parents. I quickly made an appointment with my G.P and was seen the next day (Tuesday) by one of the senior partners. And WOW. I have been belittled, felt small, stupid, insignificant many, many times in my life. But I have been bought up to think of the family doctor as someone to trust, to turn to in times of need. But I have to be honest… rude doesn’t cover his attitude to me. I felt like I was dirty, a whore, cheap, a slut. Did I know who the father was (after explaining my living situation etc with him) and had I discussed it ‘with the father’. Now this was a while ago, I am sure things have changed, but at the time, you had to see two doctors in the practise to sign off on the abortion. I was lucky that the next doctor was a completely different story and treated me with dignity and respect. Although I found out I was approx. 11 weeks gone and was referred to the hospital for … well… again this was all new to me, I had gone by myself and suffered a horrific questioning already, I thought it was an out patient’s appointment, before an abortion date would be organised. I really didn’t understand how these things worked and didn’t have anyone to turn to. (more on that to come)
So when i rocked up at the clinic, I was there… maybe 5 mins, nervous doesn’t begin to cover it. I am not good in hospitals. So I was hoping for reassurance, help, understanding…. no. Big bag of no. I was in and out in 5 mins, I was told to come back the following morning, and to bring a pair of PJ’s and slippers. So.. as quick as all of that. When I came back the following morning, I was told that my partner couldn’t wait, but they would call when I was ready to leave. No ETA, no nothing (this resulted in my begging that he wait anyway). He was shipped off, I was asked to change and sit in a waiting room with other women, who I had to assume were all there for the same reason. But we were not even making eye contact, let alone conversation. No member of staff to speak to, until I was called in to see the doctor. Great, I thought I would be able to have a conversation with the doctor, have an explanation… nope, a quick overview of stats, and a rather unpleasant experience later, I was back in the waiting room. None of us had a way to pass the time, no one to talk to, to offer comfort. We were called in one, after the other. No way of really telling the time. Finally, I was called in, and because of the medication it gets super hazy around this point. But a nice man stabbed a needle in my hand without explanation and then told me he was going to put me to sleep, could I count back from 10. Being me, I suggested he sing a lullaby.. and BAM i was gone.
I have only been under general (or in a surgical situation) twice that I know of, and I don’t stay down long. I came around to the nurses laughing about my asking of a lullaby… I guess that gave them something to talk about for a couple of days at least. I was offered squash and dry toast, and told to get dressed. So, drug induced sleep to getting dressed in under 10 mins? I made it groggily to the waiting room, saw my partner, and ran past him to the toilets. Threw up. At this point, I am feeling thoroughly miserable. The only other person I had told was my manager to explain why I couldn’t work that weekend (working as a bar supervisor, I felt it best I take the weekend off work) but I suddenly needed to see my mother, which was massively out of our way home. And of course she wasn’t in. I must have thrown up 5 more times on the journey home. Pretty undignified, having to pull over, to throw the door open and carry on a moment later.
I was in pain,not so much that I couldn’t move.. more that moving was pretty uncomfortable, and stayed on the sofa for the weekend. I didn’t go to my follow up appointment with the doctor, and my GP neither asked, or followed up either, although I went in for a change of contraception shortly after. Now, I have never wanted children, that is a story for another blog. I will be honest, I was a little upset. There is something about being pregnant that changes everything. I would have happily taken that baby to term. But it was right for me, my situation. I don’t begrudge the abortion as such. But what I do begrudge is the taboo surrounding the subject. If I am honest, out of all the health care professionals that I saw during the ordeal, it was the second doctor that signed off my application for the abortion. To everyone else, I was cheap, nasty, a number, cattle. I was not human. I was not worthy of basic dignity and respect.That, that is what I take away from the situation.
Now, I realise that I have rambled on quite a bit about my own experience. And I thank you for sticking with me. I went back to work, and was honest with my co-workers about my time off. My boss was lovely, and understanding. My co-workers, shocked and curious. I worked in a student bar and I guess this was part of the rich fabric of their education. And yet, not even a month later, I realised what a taboo an abortion was (if you recall earlier, my view was formed on open conversation and pop culture references so I assumed it was open season). I hadn’t really mentioned it to people because of time, and I didn’t really have any close friends as such at the time. So when a co-worker came to me and said he had been told off for mentioning my abortion… I was shocked ? It was … public I guess. In the way, it is now. Because I am transcribing it ready to go live on line. So I felt strange that he was being told not to talk about something, like it was a dirty secret when I hadn’t presented it as such. It was just something I did. And then having another co worker, a year later, swear, loudly, to my face about how disgusting I was. Then I started to realise being open about abortions, free and open debate.. not the best way to play it.
And so, it has continued, I mention it generally speaking in context, but when i feel it safe to do so. Not long ago, a FB friend threw up a Pro Choice article, I saw red and went on the offensive. It resulted in not only us connecting via messages, opening up in a way neither of us had, but the resulting thread was a forum for women to be open and express themselves in a way that they maybe felt they couldn’t or shouldn’t.
AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS WHAT IS WRONG.
Having an abortion is not something we should be ashamed of, of course we shouldn’t view it as a form of birth control. But there are reasons, many, many reasons women chose to go through with it. It is not a simple choice, not one anyone takes lightly or goes through unscathed.
As I said on my friends post last night, Pro Choice, we have the right to chose. It is not saying one is better than the other. It is just saying that many have fought hard, and in many cases, died for our right to chose. And that choice is actually – because I am a facetious cow, the same right to choose to go to Whole Foods to pick up dinner over MacDonalds. It is about our right to make informed, educated choices about our lives, and our bodies. To take control about what we do, say, think, our actions. And be RESPONSIBLE for the outcome.
And so we come back to the start of this blog. It is a disgusting and not especially subtle dig at Pro Choice. Let us not get bogged down in the arguments surrounding abortion, wrong sex, disability – no different than my own reasoning when you come down to it. If that is really the concern, tackle it head on and don’t make families, who are emotional and vulnerable, feel any worse than they already do. It is a cheap trick and a low blow. We need to talk about this. We need to have conversation, we need to bring it out of the shadows, be honest. Stop making women feel like shit for even considering it. Only then will this stop happening.