Thoughts on Abortion
First, “established social structures” were formed by white men who wanted to exercise control over everything including women’s bodies. These oppressive and sexist practices transcended geographical borders, becoming the corollary aspects of colonialism, taking shape as “established social structures” within our (and others) society. Just because something is an “established social structure” it doesn’t mean it is RIGHT!!! In this modern day, the 21st century, how can we continue to conform to these archaic practices that only perpetuate a destructive and repressive culture? Also, why should any woman give up her rights simply because such a part of culture must remain taboo?
Second, issues related to women’s health, reproductive rights and abortion stem from women’s struggles to end this form of sexist oppression. One cannot be a feminist or advocate feminism and be anti-choice. The root of the feminist movement is focused on eliminating sexist oppression towards women, liberating us from the clutches of patriarchal power(s) and progressing towards more equitable impacts and outcomes of social policy for women as a whole. You can, however, be a feminist and feel strongly that abortion is NOT FOR YOU, but that does NOT entail being anti-choice, in fact, it means you ARE pro-choice!!
Third, yes, we ARE all “animals in heat” and we do have carnal needs that need to be fulfilled, just like any other need (such as breathing, eating etc.). However, like much else, the choice around how to get around these needs comes down to the individual. And, therefore, the basic response to this so-called ‘problem’ of hundreds of unwanted babies should be a sound sex education at a young age, so that when you have highly hormonal youth going at it like bunnies, they are actually making informed and educated decisions about their sexual activity. Abstinence-only sex education does NOT work!
Fourth, it is not ONLY young women and men with uncontrollable libido who have a few “nights of passion” and cannot “master [their] feelings” that seek abortion. There are hundreds of women who conceive – unwillingly – as a result of domestic abuse, rape and even in the most mundane of cases where women (who are married & are raising families) cannot afford another child. And then, what about the women who are married, have children, are using contraceptives and still get pregnant? What then? Are they all supposed to just DEAL WITH IT? Nobody should have a say in what a woman does with her body, except HER!
Fifth, if access to abortion is a woman’s right and we believe this is the FAIR thing to do, then is it FAIR to say that ONLY certain categories of women in “limited circumstances” can have this right? It’s so easy for anti-abortion factions to advocate that an unborn baby’s life should be preserved, without knowing anything about the circumstances (all of them) that will impact the child, if it is to be born full-term. What about poverty? Education? A decent life? Do these parties look to ensure that these things are in place for this “unborn” child to flourish? NO! This is why it is so convenient for someone to make an ill-conceived and premature statement such as, “…everytime someone got pregnant after a merry jaunt… the unborn child will have to suffer”. Not always is it a “merry jaunt” and not always are the subsequent circumstances friendly enough to allow for another child, who, it is likely will live in complete misery, especially if sustenance is inadequate and more importantly, if this child is UNWANTED! Think back to when you were a little child. All you wanted was to be LOVED, to be WANTED and to be important to someone. Shouldn’t that be the case for EVERY child that is born? Why the hell not?
Sixth, policies around abortion should be far from “hush hush.” In fact, if abortion were to be legalized, there is an assurance that the procedure is being handled professionally and with care. Under legalized abortion policies, there would be guidelines under which the procedure is conducted, ensuring the patient’s safety and also allowing for any kind of medical treatment beyond the abortion itself. Additionally, the facilities will not only be safe but sanitary and, if the performing medical practitioner were to make a mistake or falter in some way, there would be legal proceedings and such that could be resorted to.
Finally, the issue of abortion/ anti-abortion is not only connected directly to the issues on our “national conscience” in Sri Lanka but also the results of it in many ways. It is not an issue that is any less important than civil strife, displacement or terrorism. And, it is, a social problem that many societies face on a NATIONAL and even GLOBAL scale! The issue of abortion stirs great controversy mostly because many aspects of our culture and society come into play. It cannot be given just one label, for it reflects many things: economics, politics, ethics, social constraints, laws, rights & freedoms etc. etc. If we are to address the issue of abortion, we need to take into account ALL of these aspects and work on policies around abortion that are beneficial and not harmful to the basic human rights of an individual (in other words, the LIVING).
One last thing, making the decision to terminate a pregnancy is not something that people do haphazardly or free of any reservations. A great deal of thought and contemplation goes into the decision-making process and, it is a heartbreaking experience that is not only remembered for the rest of your life, but also one that is very powerful. It is by no means an EASY task. But, having the choice to either go through with a pregnancy or terminate it is something that liberates women, families and societies.
I am married and I have a 21-month-old child. Eight months ago, I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant. We had just started out our lives and we were not ready for a second child. We were a single income household just making ends meet and, we knew that if we opted to see the pregnancy to term, our resources would be much more limited and we would not even be able to properly care for our then 1-year-old. So, after much deliberation, heartache and tears, we decided to have an abortion (legally). The experience itself was difficult and heart-wrenching. My husband and I grieved for a very long time and to this day, we talk about the tough decision we had to make, keeping the memory alive. We believe this is important. However, we also believe we did the right thing and we have no regrets. We want more children in the near future and we are much better prepared for another child now, than we were 8 months ago!
But, it makes me think about the alternative route that we could have taken and what our lives would look like. In our struggles to keep two children alive and well, feeding, clothing and providing shelter to them, would any anti-abortion advocate or group have helped us out with the medical bills, the monthly household bills and the general ability to sustain our family? I highly doubt it. All that would have come from an anti-abortion faction would be the glorification for not being a baby killer! Yay! to that.