world health day: autonomy over our own bodies

I'm writing this for the abortion blogswarm advertised on The Hand Mirror. It wasn't hard to know what I wanted to write for this post as I've been thinking about it for some time. I want to write about the effect of abusive parents on perceptions of abortion and choice.

I've been thinking about two real life situations, one I know of more intimately than the other. Two young women, separated by time and place, were made to abort their babies by their parents. Mum and Dad in the case of one and Dad in the case of the other. Woman A and her partner, both young teens, were committed to each other and keen to have the baby and riase him or her themselves. Woman B was clear she wished to birth and raise the child that she, as women who want to carry through a pregnancy do, saw the foetus as.

The scars continue for these two women and one of the notable forms of those scars has been a massive resistance to the notion of abortion in any form. To force someone to have an abortion is a particularly cruel act and when we are talking about the very people charged to care for a teenage child performing this ugly coercion, the abusive element magnifies in my mind. These women are (one far more proactively than the other) trying to restrict bodily autonomy on other women in their anti-abortion campaigning. It saddens me that this is a product of the abuse they endured when they were young.

I carry with me the stories of brave and strong women who have made brave and strong decisions to terminate pregnancies. Women who knew they had the right to autonomy over their bodies and made difficult decisions which were the right ones for them then and remain the right decisions today. Today, on world health day, I put my hand up tall and say that I believe free access to abortions for women of all ages is an essential service in any decent society.

Comments

Julie said…
Wonderful thoughtful post Sandra, thanks.
Nikki Elisabeth said…
Hey Sandra,

Loved your post. It's so so so sad in situations where there is a coerced abortion. I smile every time I think about the certifying consultant who told an ex who marched into her office ranting about fetal alcohol syndrome that he could get effed. (Not in so many words, of course.)
Although I shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. He shouldn't have pressured me into even making that appointment.

I really feel for those two women. No one should be forced to do anything.

xo
Anonymous said…
Yes, a thoughtful post.
One more thought. While we give women autonomy over their bodies, what about the babies? Who will stand up for the injustices done to the little ones who have no choice and not even any voice?
~Rachael
Sandra said…
There are people taking the 'what about the babies?' approach in their activism, as I think you know Rachael. People who do not consider the health risks of back street abortions and refuse to face the centuries old reality of a need for abortion. I strongly support The Hand Mirror's approach to abortion as a health issue.
anton said…
I am impressed by the picture on the top of the site. It seems me like " Golden mind Golden life"
eye lift
goodgravey said…
Well said Sandra. What I particularly love about THM's approach is that it is not actually about abortion per se. It is about choice. And it is about everyone's rights to make their own health decisions.

In terms of who will think of the babies, a legislation change must be on the agenda of the anti-choicers, because the legislation clearly defines an unborn baby as not being a human being.

So, if you do consider a foetus to still be "human", then you ought to be vocal about a review of the legislation around abortion. Such a review is in the interests of everyone - regardless of their point of view.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sandra said…
Rachael after careful thought I have removed your comment. I've emailed you (well I will in the next few minutes).
Heather said…
Hi Sandra,

I really appreciated this post, and the way that you so often consider the complexity of 'issues' in a real world with people in it.

For myself, I am fundamentally against abortion, but I also have *absolutely* no desire to force people into deciding between carrying an unwanted child to term or having a dangerous and degrading back street abortion.

I don't know where to take that combination of beliefs, so I'm mostly pretty quiet on the issue.

For women such as those you describe in your post, I would love their to be some kind of refuge or something that they could go to. A place that would welcome them (and their partners, should that be appropriate for the woman concerned), and give them the physical and emotional support to enable them to carry through with the pregnancy and start into childraising.

In general I would like to know some of the reasons why women choose to have abortions, and use that knowledge to come up with alternatives so that at least some of them would freely make a different choice. I feel that that is the least that an 'anti-choice' person could do, although I don't know how to go about it. It seems deeply wrong to force someone to go through pregnancy and labour and all their consequences just to bring into the world a child they wished wasn't there. But at the end of the day I *do* see abortion as killing a child and that seems wrong, too. I wish there was a middle way!

--Heather :-)

PS Sandra, I suspect that this is more 'anti-choice' than certainly what THM wanted, and I won't be offended if you delete it, but I wanted to write it as it is how I have responded to your post.
Sandra said…
Heather you encapsulate something very important: to advocate for safe, freely available LEGAL abortion is not to claim an enthusiasm for abortion. It is quite possible to explore alternatives to abortion which do not supress women's autonomy over their own bodies (knowing that whatever society does and there is much it can do to be supportive, abortion will still be the best option for some people).

Thank you everyone for your comments.
body lift said…
Nice article. So this world health day is the special occasion and everybody should make it special. Keep yourself healthy and forced people to stay healthy.

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