By Shambhavi Saxena:
The reasons we furnish to discourage a woman from having an abortion are endless, but in all honesty, they aren’t very good reasons. Based on abstract and oppressive ideas of ‘honour and duty’, of ‘shame and of guilt’, these reasons are used to pressurise women into carrying the pregnancy to term. But this commitment of 9 months is something that a woman alone can make, and her decision, whatever it might be, needs to be respected. So if you’re someone who has had or is planning to have an abortion based on any of the following thought processes, don’t be guilty about your choice:
The nine-month gestation period is nothing like what your average American sitcom would have you believe. Rebecca Roher’s comic that depicts pregnancy in as honest a way as we’ve ever seen is probably the best insight ever into what a woman goes through during this period. While the experience varies from woman to woman, and from age to age, pregnancy can be an extremely uncomfortable and even excruciating period. In the catholic environs of Galway, Ireland, Savita Halappanavar was denied an abortion even when going through immense pain during pregnancy. She died of septicaemia. So yes, either psychologically or physically, your body might just not be ready to have a child –it is perfectly OKAY.
There’s an old Nigerian proverb that says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Do you have the necessary familiar support network to help you do this? Does your workplace allow for maternity (and paternity) leave? Is your partner going to invest as much in raising this child as you are? Even in the case of single or working adults, access to health care and day care facilities is a must. Absence of an effective and strong child care support system is a perfectly valid reason to not want to carry a pregnancy to term and opt for abortion
Child care is a costly affair. It requires frequent visits to medical practitioners; it requires thinking about school and college fees and a whole lot more. Not everyone is in a position to provide for their child, and if you have the option of delaying having children, or not having them at all, then there is absolutely no shame in opting for an abortion.
Sometimes your family or your partner’s family may place expectations of motherhood on you, when the time isn’t right– maybe you still want to work, maybe your work takes you to environments that are not conducive for pregnant women or new mothers. A woman has full right to terminate a pregnancy that she does not actively want, as much as an unplanned one. Given that it is your body that will undergo changes for nine months, nobody should make this decision on your behalf. Amirite or Amirite?
The very fact that you or your partner used or wanted to use contraception means you are not planning on having children just yet. You should be fully able to terminate any such unwanted pregnancies, and you are not required to ‘take permission’ from your partner or anyone for this.
Whether or not you have these so-called “maternal instincts“, the choice to have children or not belongs to you. If raising children is just not your cup of tea, or what you want out of life, then having access to a safe abortion is your right.
Many hold the mistaken belief that the only reason people have sex is in order to have children. But sex can be purely for pleasure. Denying women their right to a safe abortion is then just a way of curbing and sanitizing female sexuality. Transforming women’s sexuality into motherhood is also a form of control, and you shouldn’t have to stand for it. You have the right to sexual pleasure without being punished with a child you didn’t want or are not ready for!
We can’t say it enough, but your body is yours. To have children or to have an abortion should be entirely your decision, and nobody should take that away from you. A culture that stigmatises a woman for a perfectly valid choice is one that still wants to dictate to her what her choice should be. And that then is really not freedom at all. Because freedom to choose is either complete or not really there. A woman’s right to her body must not come with riders attached.