Saturday, 25 June 2011

On being a pro-choice mum

Trigger warning - this is a post on abortion from the pro-choice perspective. There's also detail about pregnancy and birth.

(I've written this - slightly later than I meant to! - for the theme-free Feminist Friday over at Obviously the opinions here are all my own.)

My baby was really, really wanted. I was dead lucky and fell pregnant in our third month of trying, which is pretty quick. Right from the start, I thought of the wee zygote as my baby. It had a dozen different nicknames before we even had the first ultrasound. I loved my baby. I cherished every somersault and every prod to my internal organs (for the first six months or so, anyway). I sang to it before it even had ears. It was the beginning of our relationship, and it was right and happy and good. For us.

My strong loving feelings during my pregnancy were perfectly valid and natural. That doesn't make them some kind of objective truth that can be applied to all women and all pregnancies. If a woman doesn't think of her own embryo or foetus as a baby, that's entirely her prerogative. My emotions about my pregnancy are completely irrelevant to anyone else. If you don't want to have a baby, if you don't picture yourself holding a child and caring for it and picking the lint out from between its ickle toesy-wosies, then naturally you might not feel emotionally attached to a bunch of dividing cells. That little peanut-with-legs is only a baby if you think it is, and you don't get to make that decision about any peanut but your own. Women run the whole gamut of emotions when it comes to pregnancy, whether they're planning to terminate or go full-term. My own feelings are not universal and there's no reason they should be.

For me, pregnancy and birth were wonderful but terrifying. If you didn't want to be a mother at the end of it all, I can only imagine what a headfuck it would be. It's a big deal. It changes you and your body in ways that you can't always predict. In the last six weeks of my pregnancy, I had bad SPD. My pelvic joint got too loose, which was incredibly painful and meant I needed crutches to walk. It improved as soon as the Bat was born, but it's only in the last month or so - over a year after the birth - that I've been able to walk two or more miles without pain. Some women don't recover to the extent that I have, and I'm at risk for earlier and greater pelvic problems in subsequent pregnancies. We're not 'just' talking about saggy skin and a few stretch marks here (though adjusting to sudden physical changes can be bloody difficult, and a good self-image is not frivolous or unnecessary). Some people have severe tears. Some people lose continence to various degrees. And let's not forget that even an 'easy' birth usually means a lot of pain and a lot of strangers doing stuff to your private bits. It's commendable to go full-term and let someone else give the baby a loving home - you'll make an adoptive family very happy - but it's hardly a straightforward option. Should unwilling women have to risk all those problems when it's still early enough to avoid them, just because I happen to like babies? Hell no.

Women matter. Women's thoughts and feelings matter. Women's physical autonomy matters. My emotional response is not a moral imperative, and it doesn't justify forcing anyone through the danger and trauma of an unwanted pregnancy.


  1. Well put. Can I share this on FB?

  2. Thank you so much for taking part! I too had really bad SPD and was on crutches the last few months of my pregnancy.

    As someone who's had a miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy and now a healthy baby boy it's more important to me than ever that women have a CHOICE. Women should always be able to choose when they have children and when they do not.

    If you can't control your body from the inside out, how can you control it from the outside in (I'm paraphrasing Gloria Steinem here).

    Thanks for taking part!

  3. I was lucky to only get it for the last six weeks - I'd been creaky for months but for some reason, at 36 weeks pregnant, decided to stand on one leg to put my underwear on and whoops there goes my pelvis. :-/ I'm an idiot.