If you are a long term reader of the blog then you will know that I am very dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality, so it will probably come as no surprise when I say I want to talk about a rather controversial topic that has been in the news a lot lately and really divides people: Abortion.
Firstly, let me tell you what sparked this post off. Viral blogger and Queen of general awesomeness Constance Hall posted on her Facebook page about the right to have an abortion after comments made by Donald Trump over being Pro-life, and his determination to make abortion illegal under certain terms. In her usual style it was hilarious, poignant and down right fab. In the usual style of the internet it sparked off a host of sancitmummies and anti-abortion hatred, with the pro-birthers hopping on to it within minutes. It also inspired a lot of people to stand up and say, “You know what, back off my rights”. That is what an abortion is at the end of the day; a woman’s right.
Echoing the sentiment from Constance, I feel that it’s so important to shout from the roof tops about how this is a WOMANS right and until you can carry a baby in your body, your opinion is about as relevant as a fart in the wind. The old saying “it takes two to make a baby” started to fly around the comment section while I was making like Michael Jackson with his popcorn in my slippers watching Game of Thrones. We all know that is true, but hold up, how many people does it take to be pregnant? How about labour? How about die during childbirth or due to unforeseen complications? One. Now how many of them are sporting a pair of balls? None.
Abortion is, and will always be, a woman’s issue, it isn’t about gender inequality it is rather to say that until the time a man can carry a pregnancy, be affected physically by a pregnancy and at potential risk from a pregnancy, he will never have a valid opinion or right to tell a woman whether or not she can have an abortion. He can’t. And yet, here we stand in a world where abortion is illegal in so many countries because the MEN who run that country have passed a law that says they feel a foetus has more of a right than the woman whose body it is inhabiting. And yes, I say foetus because, like it or not, that is what it is, it has no rights until it lives independently of it’s mother’s body, otherwise you strip the mother of HER rights, in place of something that, without her, wouldn’t exist.
I posted this image on instagram earlier in the week and it (as expected) received a mixed bag of comments but the general consensus from “pro-lifers” was that you could always just “not get pregnant”, “use contraception” etc. Abortion is not exclusive as a form of contraception by miscreant teens who had a quickie without a condom, but frequently it is a decision made by women with families already because their contraception has failed, because they have been raped, because their health may be jeopardised if they continue with the pregnancy. No one has the right to tell a woman what comes out of her body, in the same way that no one can tell a woman what should go INTO her body. Life isn’t as neat as we may wish it to be, and while in an ideal world people would simply “not get pregnant” it doesn’t work that way. What’s more, it’s generally launched around that a woman should use contraception instead of abort, but what about the man? Ever wondered why no one has ever invented the male pill or or an injection that neutralises sperm? Yeah, me too.
There is such a misconception spread about abortion / terminations because of pro-life propaganda, something that I find I really struggle with. It is one thing to feel in your heart that you would never be able to have an abortion, a thought process that I believe to be valid and respect as someone’s opinion, but to then project those feelings on to another person’s body is a way of making them something less than human. Aren’t you tired of being less, ladies? Aren’t you tired of a patriarchal society that actively encourages women vs women attitudes and makes women LESS? I am.
Just a few thoughts (I am a guy and read your opinion on having no right to an opinion on this issue so what you do with them is up to you)
First, you say men should not decide this issue but apparently have no issue with the men in the legislator or Supreme Court deciding that it is ok. That means to me that you do not mind men having an opinion as long as it goes along with yours. The only men that are not welcome to the table are those who are pro life (and I have seen pro life woman also shunned from the table on this issue)
Also, the belief that an unborn baby receives constitutional rights to live at the because the mother deems it so is misguided at best. Either there is a right to life or not, it is not conditional on if the mother wants to grant rights.
Lastly, the idea that abortion is a woman’s rights issue is a great way to push people to your way of thinking, either you agree with me or you are against woman’s rights, but it limits useful dialogue on the topic. It is similar to accusing someone of being raciest if they have a disagreement of someone of another race, it is good to drum up support for one position but makes it more difficult to find a solution.
I am pro life. I am pro woman’s rights. I am at peace with the fact that I can be both.
it’s impossible to be both. if a woman want to obtain legal and safe abortion and you wish to deny her as such you are against her rights to autonomy over her body. you can’t pick and choose which women’s rights to agree with with and still say your ‘for women’s rights’ you either want women to have all rights from equal pay to autonomy over their bodies or you dont and it’s quite apparent that you dont. As a man who will never be in position where your body will at some stage in your life become something other than just your vessel means your opinion should matter if a woman decides to have an abortion. same as a woman shouldn’t hold a decisive opinion over your reproductive organs.
I think the guy wins. His grammar is better than, well, yours.
Mmmm. Struggling with this one a bit. You’ve raised a few very deep issues. Well, not very but exceptionally deep. It’s not so much the issue of abortion that I wish to comment on but the stance of the post and certainly the headline on twitter that drew me here: that abortion is women’s right’s issue so why are men voting on the law? I’m not sure if that’s what you intended, but that suggestion is hard line. When it comes to men’s rights issues (which I am actively involved in promoting and happily do so alongside women’s rights) I want female policy makers and law makers to be involved in the process. Their perspective, being one step removed form the situation, is vital. That said, I was horrified at the way Trump both re-instated the gagging rule the other day and did so in the Oval Office surrounded by grey-haired men in suits. It was a dreadful thing to do with some awful consequences, both intended and unintended. Doing so in that style sent a horrendous message to the world about men and no right-thinking man or woman would approve of it. A few months back I give a talk at the House of Commons at the launch of a new group in which I said the election of Trump was a disaster for us men. It’s proved right. No, nobody should be able to dictate what a woman does to her body. All of us have free will. Removing men altogether from an area of policy or law making though….ouch. Possibly not a good idea. As for male contraception, I think that’s a generational thing, or at least I hope so. For my peers it’s a subject that’s always been taken very seriously and as I inevitably get older, I know a lot of my friends are having vasectomies.
I love this, I feel its all too true. My only wish is that there was some way to monitor abortions, like you get so many free passes before the doc’s say “Sorry, but you really should have learned by now. Time to be a parent” Of course I know that’s not ever possible but still, it is sort of sad that some women do seem to abuse abortion. I had a friend in highschool who was raped. She was given the morning after pill per protocol in the hospital for victims of physical assault and rape but she still ended up becoming pregnant. No one told her she had to keep it but she wanted to try to carry it to term because she didn’t believe in abortion. About 2 months in she ended up with PTSD and sleepwalked into her kitchen to try and cut “The evil out of her” She had nightmares that the fetus inside of her was the actual rapist and she had to get him out. After almost stabbing herself, she finally aborted. Its because of her that I will never be able to be pro life.
That is so sad Elysia – unfortunately it DOES happen. It is something deeply personal to each woman and should be her choice. H x
Its hard for me to read that a baby in utero has no rights. My baby was a real person and deserved to live but lost the whole life ahead of her due to medical negligence when i was 22 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Having had my perfect baby at this gestation i dont think LATE abortions should be allowed unless the mothers life is at risk or the baby has serious problems and wont survive or suffer outside the womb. Otherwise they should have the right to live, like everyone else does.
I think the difference is very clear – a wanted baby has rights because a mother gives it such. So for example if a woman is murdered and carrying, it’s double murder because it was forcibly taken against the woman’s will – a right she has to exert. I agree with you that late term abortions are a tricky one. If a baby is going to have complications or the mother is then its a no brainer but there is a murky area where “I’ve changed my mind” is concerned. I don’t think many doctors would sign off on “I’ve changed my mind” past 24 weeks.
well done harriet, this is a fantastic blog post! i completely agree with your viewpoint on abortion! why do we let stuff old men in high positions debate our bodies
Thanks Jenna! 🙂
I would have to disagree with you. The moment you are pregnant you are carrying another human being who also has rights. Rights to life. Your body is carrying another body… a human one. We all came into this world the same way…started the same way….when does human life begin then…. 8 weeks 20 weeks 28 weeks? Babies are able to live outside the womb at 24 weeks. Do they not have rights?
To me, no. You can’t have a woman stripped of bodily autonomy because she is “carrying another life”. Sadly, you might feel that way and that is fine but not everyone does, some people don’t want to be pregnant or share their body with another, and as such I firmly believe that they should have the option to choose for themselves. I think for me the issue was more than someone like Donald Trump, who will never be in a position to be pregnant, should not be making laws on the matter.
A emotive subject for your to chat about but yes women should be able to choose what happens to their body, although when your in a loving relationship it must be hard for the father of the baby to switch off his feelings if he doesn’t want it too. However if your in a loving relationship then I hope the people would be able to chat together.
So would I Stephanie, but ultimately I think it has to be the woman’s choice, as hard as that might be. You couldn’t have a woman who was severely ill or unhappy with a pregnancy being forced to keep stay that way because her husband wants it.
I missed Constance’s post (big fan) but I couldn’t miss Donalds ludicrous comments! They were all over my feeds. Abortion is illegal in Ireland so if someone needs one they have to travel to the UK. I was pro-life for many years until a friend had to carry a baby who had would not survive outside the womb for three whole months. It was horrific. She had no rights to her body and it was so upsetting to watch her, her family and especially her kids go through it.
Great post Harriet!
I couldn’t agree more, it’s a woman right. People may say ‘don’t get pregnant’ but for some ladies it ‘s not that simple. The world is rife with rape and torture of many kinds, something we may never experience or witness thank god, but that doesn’t mean its the same for everyone behind closed door. It’s a womans choice. xxx
Precisely my thoughts Lisa 🙂
Yes I am totally sick of it! MY BODY MY CHOICE! It goes for everything when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, and it extends way beyond too. Nobody has the right to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body. When I was pregnant with Elsie and set on a VBA3C I had so many people tell me I wasn’t allowed. Wasn’t allowed!! Oh my goodness. The next focus of the #MyBirthMyBody campaign is actually choice and I’d love to use this post as an example if I may? xx
Oh goodness, thank you that would be 100% ok with me 🙂 H x
It’s a hard choice to make but on that I feel that the decision should be that of the mother.
As do I Melanie!
Well said! Women have the choice to abort or to not abort and that is entirely up to them, noone else can have a say on what they do with their bodies. At the end of the day it is noone else’s business.
Thank you Ana xx
Good on you for writing about this, Harriet. I saw that post on Constance’s page and could not believe some of the vile comments from the pro-life campaigners. I can’t believe that in this day and age, people (because some of the pro-life campaigners are other women too) feel it’s okay to tell someone what they can and cannot do with their own body. Like you say, it’s a woman’s right to choose. x
Wasn’t it horrible?! And yes, of course a lot of women are pro-life campaigner and I’m not for a second suggesting that all men are pro-life or campaigners, rather that the vast majority of politicians are male because it is a male dominated profession and I find it frustrating that they are the ones that set the law.
This is such an emotive subject, personally I think it is the choice of each individual woman. A really well written post, I LOVE the term sanctimummies – genius! Kaz x
Thanks Kaz – yes, sanctimummies is one of my faves too! H x
It never even occurred to me that it could be anyone else’s choice. Maybe I just surround myself with like-minded people, but I definitely agree with everything you’re saying.
Thanks Elodie – I have to say I don’t know many staunch pro-lifers who would push their views on to others, but again that’s probably because I wouldn’t get on with that type of person and they wouldn’t get on with someone as liberal as me! x
I believe in a woman’s right to choose and until that baby is able to survive alone then it is her body and wellbeing that needs to be the prioirty. However, I don’t completely agree that it is just a women’s issue. In many cases, like contraception failing, or making the right choice for your family, the man will be involved in the decision and I don’t think it is fair to take them out of the equation completely. In terms of legislations though, I agree that it is very important to move away from a patriarchal stance on important issues.
I can see what you are saying and while I agree to a degree that in a loving relationship there would be discussion but that’s where the buck stops. To use my own as an example – I would tell Adam I was pregnant, I would ask his thoughts and then I would make the decision. I’m not carrying his child in some kind of bizarre mule style way because, well, he wants it. My body, not his. That being said – it would be discussed and we should be able to come to a resolution together but sadly if I was adamant that I wasn’t having another baby nothing he could say would make a difference and I do agree that that could cause some serious issues for a relationship.
Abortion is down to the individual – but I think if your in a relationship you should discuss it with your partner if you intend to stay together.
I think that is the key – discussion, but ultimately if one person swings one way and the other swings the other way then nothing will help that scenario.
I’m sort of sat on the fence – I don’t believe it should be used as a method of contraception, I had a friend who had, had 2 abortions by the time she left school or so she said and it was almost a badge of honour to her and she would brag about it – that I don’t get and will never get.
However I do believe it should be offered to people when they need it.
That’s very sad Sarah, I think abortion is a very tough decision and to wear one as a badge of pride is horrible. That being said, what is to say that the girl who broke up with her long term boyfriend, stopped taking her pill for a few days, went out with her friends and made a lousy decision when she’d had a few drinks should have to suffer (and in turn the child should have to suffer) because people don’t think it should be used as contraception. I really don’t think it can be as black and white as that – not to mention that fact that in my little scenario there who ends up dealing with the fall out from a 2 person scenario? Oh yeah, the woman. I really feel strongly that it isn’t our place to tell others when they can and can’t make decisions for their bodies. H x
Totally agree with the things that you have said, its a women’s right issue 100%
I totally agree with you. This is a great post. This has nothing to do with equality etc this is a woman’s issue. I cannot believe what Donald trump was saying about this. God help us if he becomes president. Total bafoon.
Thank you Kerry – he is one hell of an asshole is he not?
thank you for taking this time in explaining your views and everybody has an opinion , and are entitled to an opinion. I believe that there is an answer to every question a woman has regarding her body and pregnancy.
It is a hard decision to make and if the solution is termination, that I support her decision.
Too many babies are being born unwanted 🙁
great post 🙂
Thanks so much Emma – as you can maybe see from the comments not everyone agree and I think that is ok, as long as we can agree to disagree, I have no issue with someone’s different opinion. My fear is when that opinion strips me of my bodily autonomy.
I couldn’t agree with you more. You will always have people who think they know better and their opinion is the only one that matters. It’s not. My body, my life and my choice.
Amen to that Tanya!
I totally agree with you that it is a woman’s right as to whether she has an abortion, there should be no debate about it. If there are potential risks to your health or you merely are not in a position to properly care for a child you shouldn’t be forced to have it. x
I don’t wish to be contentious but I have my own opinions on abortion. I know of one country who place the life of the foetus above the life of the mother. When one mother whose life was at serious risk of dying and she did. The Doctors would not remove the baby or terminate to save the life of the mother. I feel that type of case, the life of the mother should be and her health should be the highest priority.
I do understand you when you say that it’s a woman’s decision. The only thing I would ask you to consider is, if a couple wishes to share the joys or a partnership/love/marriage, they should share the responsibility of creating that life. I agree that Abortion is a hard decision for any woman and the circumstances behind each situation is unique. I have a personal belief that abortion should be the last resort in these three situations. 1. Rape, 2. Incest and 3, where the life of the mother is at risk by having or carrying the foetus to full term.
You have brought up a valid discussion and writing what can be a contentious subject.
Thank you for sharing.
Not contentious at all John – everyone is entitled to their own opinions and to voice them. It is my firm belief though that, in reality, only a woman can really have a valid right to dictate what happens to her body. No uterus = no opinion to me on this one. That isn’t me trying to be disrespectful, but rather that this is not a gender inclusive issue – it is gender exclusive to woman. only a woman can carry a pregnancy.
To address your issue with creating a life – I wholeheartedly agree. As soon as that child is not exclusively dependant on that woman’s body to survive and lives independently then a man should have 100% equal rights to the life he created. While it grows in the mother, he has no right. Otherwise we end up with situations where women are effectively forced by their partners to act as a mule for their baby – take for example the career woman who has severe HG and can hardly move without being violently sick – but hey ho, her and her partner wanted the baby so he can now get his equal say whilst he sits and watches telly at home and she watches her life, health and career dwindle away. He doesn’t get a say, if it’s in her body, he should never have a say.
I also find the attitude that abortion is only for those who deserve it, like its something that we merit out. What if contraception fails? What if, guess what, she just fucks up and doesn’t plan to have that one night stand but got a bit pissed and forgot to use contraception that *one time*… why should she suffer and the man (who also in almost alllll of these cases has bugger all clue about contraception, or intention of using it) who is equally to blame is scott free? In the same way he can’t tell her to get rid of it, she should have the option to make a choice.
Thanks for a fab comment and an alternative view John!
This is a pretty interesting post about abortion. We are all talking about mother’s rights, father’s right or both but who is really talking about the unborn child’s rights? It is not a fight about equality but about a soul who is going to be murdered. Who is going to ask that baby’s opinion? Some questions to see the topic from a different perspective.
Thanks for the comment Zaria.
It’s not that I don’t see it from a different perspective, I do, and I think if that is how you feel for your body that is cool… but it’s not how I feel about mine. I don’t believe in psychics, gods or souls and I don’t believe in rights for unborn foetuses who can’t survive without inhabiting another LIVING persons body. I believe that we all have bodily autonomy, and in the same way that I wouldn’t wish to tell you how to treat your body, I feel like you can’t tell me how to treat mine.
To answer your last point, a foetus without the brain function to make decisions is highly unlikely to be able to give an opinion… is it the foetuses opinion you are after, or just something to make you feel better about a choice that doesn’t affect you but you dislike?
I can understand why this is such a divisive topic but I do agree with you. I think that there are situations when an unborn baby deserves more rights (if killed through mum being attacked for example, should count as two lives if baby could fave survived out if the womb) however nobody should be able to force a woman to carry and birth a baby which, for whatever reason, she doesn’t want. It’s inhumane. Great post lovely xx
I have always said that while something resides in a woman’s body it is her choice to determine what happens to it, so in the instance of a woman losing a baby because of assault or being murdered herself, it is forcibly taken from her without her will. Same as an organ etc. She has bodily autonomy at the end of the day. H x
I totally understand where you are coming from. I am not for or against abortions in a massive way. I don’t believe they should be used as a form of contraception for one night stands BUT they definitely shouldn’t be illegal.
For many reasons you said, contraception not working, potential harm to the mum or even early signs the baby wouldn’t survive long after birth and most specifically rape. These plus many other reasons are more than a good enough reason to have an abortion!
No man should have the right to say somebody can’t abort, well no woman should either. I understand if it was made so it had to have a legit reason like those above but it never ever should be totally illegal. Will the governments of these country pay to raise the baby they don’t want to keep? I doubt that.
I doubt it too. The issue I have with not allowing it’s use as a form of contraceptions for that one mistake is that you will have to pick up the fall out of that: unwanted babies, PND, mental health issues during pregnancy, financial issues etc.
It’s the same as liver donation. I can give you a bit of my liver and still be fine, but do I have to? No, bodily autonomy prevents that. I can get pregnant from a one night stand, but do YOU have the right to tell ME I have to stay pregnant? Nope.
Great comment thank you!
I’m Catholic but like you I’ve always been a firm believer in Women’s rights and issues. I guess it’s not surprising then that I do agree with you about abortion. Like what ever it is concerning our bodies, it is our right and our choice. As for Donald Trump, I don’t believe in anything that comes out of that man’s mouth. I just hope that the Americans won’t vote for him!
He is one interesting guy huh? I kinda feel that he’s going to win you know.
I am extremely pro life in my own stand point, I never ever could have an abortion, and I have been in a horrendous situation where I know people would’ve understood if that had been a choice that I would make. Thankfully it didn’t result in a pregnancy and I didn’t have to go through the decision. I do however believe that it is in no way my choice to make that decision for someone else. I think making it illegal will result in dangerous backstreet abortions and to be honest just not something that will happen in this day and age. I can’t see how they can go backwards. I do think they need to be stricter with timelines other than that where the mother would die and again, it is then her choice to go through with it or not. I don’t like the idea of them being used as birth control which I think is something that happens in an extreme minority, and if there was a way to tighten the reins around that… hmm.. I just don’t see really how they could. I guess you get what I mean. I think it is a difficult situation to be in for anyone and one that no-one takes lightly, it is a process our bodies have to go through, it can lead to long term complications. It is absolutely a women’s right issue. In the confines of a loving marriage, the dad would be part of the choice too, but ultimately it is the woman’s decision as you say. Ooh… these articles spark so much division and discussion don’t they? Well done for writing it though.
They do but I think you hit the nail on the head with your first line Alexandra – you’re pro-choice for YOU. I find it just as abhorrent to think that someone would say to you “Well now isn’t a good time, you HAVE to get rid”… that isn’t right either, whatever the choice, it’s YOURS and yours alone to make.
hmmm I’m not sure where I stand on this. i am torn and i guess it depends on the circumstances. Where the mother’s life is in danger or as a result of rape, it is a whole other story. I am certainly not OK with people using abortion as a form of contraception, though x
Hmm, see I can understand why someone would struggle with that concept but who decides who fits the bill? And what about the man – they are rarely expected to think of contraception and as such end up causing a pregnancy too, so at what point is their bodily autonomy stripped because someone else doesn’t like the idea of abortion being used as a contraceptive? I think if it’s a continual use of contraception then we have a problem, but for one mistake?
This is a great, insightful post. Very true about men’s contraception too! All I’ve been asked since giving birth (6 weeks ago!) is what contraception I’m using. NO ONE has asked my husband!!
Haha why would they Katy? It’s so frustrating – no one has ever asked my husband, or suggested HE should pull his finger out and sort his shit so that he doesn’t help create a pregnancy.
It’s such an emotive topic, understandably, but I completely agree with you. People seem to see it in such black and white terms but life really isn’t like that.
It is Cathy, it can’t ever be black and white though x
Brilliant article! Damn right abortion is a woman’s right and issue with the amount of women who have died it needs to be doe thing that there is no pressure on I think it’s vile that protesters stand outside clinics it’s a hard enough decision as it is x
Thank you Kitty! Protestors are wicked – I saw a great blogger whose wife was having a termination at 17 weeks because the baby had a disease and was effectively dying inside her. The medical advice was that is she carried to term that both her and the baby wouldn’t make it. The protestors all but attacked her on the way into the clinic so he went back out and filmed them – asked them their views on her situation. He was totally none aggressive (something they had really been) and they told him if he didn’t stop filming them they would call the police.
I completely agree with you. Sometimes you’d never know we’re living in 2016. As for the male contraceptive – I do believe they are trialing one now? It’d be nice for men to take some responsibility for where their sperm go too.
I know. Ha yes, a male contraceptive – we might trial it but I’m almost 100% certain we’d have a long way to go before we could encourage men to actually take it and take responsibility for their part in pregnancy.