Sunday, May 13, 2012

Keep your laws off my Belly.

The previous edition of the Activist which encapsulated views of several youth on abortion sparked a heated debate on the local social media scene and the blogosphere. Some comments questioned if 'pro-life-ers are anti women'.  Some even revealed shocking statistics such as: 77% of all pro-life leaders are male, and 54% of women who have had an abortion say they used contraception. As such, one stark reality that all pro-life responses underscored was the self evident truth that unless you've walked a mile in the shoes of someone who’s had or at least contemplated abortion; your criticism is only as credible as straight people condemning gay rights or the perfectly healthy denouncing euthanasia. Among the emails I received was the one from Ranmali (26). Hers was a deeply personal insightful message.

This is her story:

“I believed that abortion was something I will never consider going through until it affected my life. But the morality and all the teaching aside, I think people should be more careful about what they preach, especially when they don’t have a clue about what goes on in a person’s mind when confronted with a situation that is totally unexpected. Sure, a lot of people can say that if one has sex, they should be aware of the consequences, but then, for those who do take the necessary precautions against it, and still end up pregnant, what does the world say to them? I was not ignorant of the consequences of intercourse, nor was I not informed of contraceptives. I think I am one of those examples of what people call “everything gone wrong”. I loved my boyfriend, and I was ready to start a family with him. But I did not expect to have a child till the moment I found out that I was pregnant. It came as a shock to me. I was hit with another blow when I found that my boyfriend was cheating on me. He was pro abortion from day two of us getting to know that I was pregnant. On day one, he was happy thinking that he was going to become a father. It was after some time later that I found out that he was cheating on me. It kind of explained to me why he wanted to get rid of the child. Nevertheless I was not convinced that I wanted to go through something illegal nor did I want to kill my child. But sometimes we are faced with situations where we do not have much choice. Do I raise a child alone and let society call me a 'bad woman' and my child a bastard, or do I put an end to all this and go through an abortion? I ended up keeping the child. This led to a lot of dilemmas in life. I could never have done something illegal. And yet the options that were available were not the safest either. I was told by many that certain doctors would perform abortions, and was recommended certain hospitals as well. But knew I could not face the world if something went wrong, nor could I imagine how it would feel after the abortion. But what surprised me were my mum’s sentiments on hearing that I was pregnant. She said that she would have made sure I terminated the pregnancy had she known in advance. Sometimes parents can surprise you, my mother certainly did. I never thought that they would react to a pregnancy in that way, but I guess most of us judge things wrong. If we take a closer look, I am sure that despite laws that prohibit abortion, there would be many who would see things in a logical manner and act without a shroud of imposed morality blocking their senses.”

If 77% of all anti-abortion leaders really are male: then 100% of them will never get pregnant.  As such, it may be difficult for us men to relate to pregnancy and everything else it entails: from the bulging belly and disapproving parents to ridicule from distant relatives and pro-lifers shouting ‘murder’. After all, if you can't trust a woman with a choice how can you trust her with a child?

Originally published on The Nation:

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