“How could you be so stupid?”
“You are so stupid”
“You’re supposed to know better”
“You’re a doctor for f!*#s sake”
“You’re supposed to be intelligent”
“You’re not supposed to make mistakes”
“You stupid b#*!h”
“Why did you…?”
“Why didn’t you…?”
“This is your worst nightmare come true…”
“This isn’t part of the plan”
“What are you going to do?”
This was part of the internal dialogue that followed the light blue lines on the home test kit confirming what was indeed (one of) my worst nightmares come true – I was pregnant – an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.
Growing up in N. Ireland had instilled in me a deep fear of becoming pregnant if I wasn’t married – it was, after all, the deepest shame a girl could bring upon her family. I had heard as a teenager how people spoke of young girls who ended up in such a predicament – that they were loose, sluts, slags, tarts, morally bankrupt, weak, silly girls, shameful – you get the picture. There was absolutely nothing positive about that scenario.
But I was no longer a teenager – I was in my thirties, successful in a highly professional job and had an excellent track record that affirmed a decent level of intelligence. Times had moved on – single mothers were a commonplace occurrence – but even so, the hangover of religious and cultural beliefs still coursed through my veins, even though I was not religious in any way at that time, nor was I living in N. Ireland. But the damage had been done. The seeds had been well and truly planted and embedded.
Shame on you.
You’re a disappointment.
How could you?
The collective cultural and religious voice echoed…
You see, in my head, I was not the ‘sort of person’ who had an unplanned pregnancy, who had a child out of wedlock – I wasn’t the silly irresponsible teenage girl… yet now I was the sort of person who had an unplanned pregnancy, as I was pregnant! There was no denying that. My body had told me even before the little blue lines confirmed it.
“What are you going to do?”
I saw two paths ahead of me, to continue with the pregnancy and have the child, or have an abortion…and it was very clear that there was only one option for ME, for who I was, given my history, my experiences, my beliefs, the influencing factors on my life that had led me to be the person I was at that time – and that was to have an abortion. I was living in England, so gaining access to abortion was not the problem that it is for women in N. Ireland today. There were multiple factors that contributed to that decision and although it was definitely a true choice for me, it was not taken lightly. The circumstances around it were challenging for a variety of reasons; the relationship I was in broke up at the same time and I had the abortion one week before my final surgical exams; it was a stressful, messy and difficult time.
But then unplanned pregnancies and abortions are part of the messiness of life. No young girl grows up thinking, “one day I want to have an abortion.” It’s not something we aspire to, dream of, desire or plan for – we don’t think “I’ll get pregnant in January so I can have my abortion in February or March”. It’s not part of anyone’s five-year plan.
In an ideal world there would be no need for abortions – but we do not live in and we will never live in an ideal world – so for the foreseeable future, abortion is, has been and will be part of life. Resisting and fighting this fact does not help – it is against the flow of life, the ‘what is’ of life – and is not actually pro-life.
So whether people agree with them or not, abortions are a fact of life and they are not going to go away. Whilst we might like to see the need for them diminish, that can be addressed in other ways, whilst simultaneously fully supporting those who choose them. That is the humane approach. We know banning them or making them illegal does not stop them happening – it just heightens the stress and suffering and makes what can already be a challenging situation, even more difficult. For some women it can result in death or severe disease from complications of backstreet abortions, or as we have seen recently in N. Ireland, result in women being convicted of a ‘crime,’ that is not a crime in other parts of the world.
Indeed, the United Nations has stated that criminalization of health services that are only for women, including abortion, is discrimination against women.
I would add, it is not only discrimination against women, it is an abuse of women. It is abusive to force a woman to have a child against her will – which in effect is what criminalizing abortion is intended to do. It is an abuse of women to deny them the fundamental right to have agency over their own body and life and the right to choose if and/or when they have a family. Also just to be super-clear, for people who are anti-abortion – you don’t have to have one, you can choose to or not, no-one would force an abortion on you the way that some people and the law would currently force women to have children they do not want. Decriminalization does not mean you have to have it or do it; it just gives you and every woman a choice.
Having an abortion can be the responsible and loving choice for both the woman and the unborn when the cycle of life is fully understood – it is not loving to bring a child into the world that is not wanted, where for whatever reason or reasons, the woman feels she does not have the resources to care for the child. Having a child, or children, is a big responsibility – one that perhaps people do not take seriously enough.
All too often we try to box and pigeon hole people into stereotypes – as I did myself, but the truth is, the ‘sort of person’ who has an unplanned pregnancy and an abortion as a way of taking responsibility for that situation, is a woman in her reproductive years and who has sex. End of. It’s as simple as that. Thereafter the identities and stories are as varied as women on the planet; they span the ages from teens to forties, from unemployed to highly professional (including doctors), from poor to rich, from working class to aristocracy, from those who used contraception to those who didn’t, from single to married, from childless to those with children, from one night stands to long term relationships, from atheist to deeply religious; basically from all nations and all walks of life. They are our friends, our sisters, our cousins, our daughters, our nieces, our aunts and mothers – they are all women and they are all, in one way or another, our sisters.
But this sisterhood is in trouble – indeed the brotherhood of humanity is in trouble and this is exemplified in what is called the abortion debate. On one side we have those who identify as ‘pro-life’ and on the other those who identify as ‘pro-choice’ and ne’er the twain shall meet. There just seems to be perpetual arguing, fighting, abusing and condemning each other and making no progress on the subject in the process.
I find it interesting to consider how this debate would be if men were the ones to get pregnant and have children – how many of them would allow themselves to be forced to have a child they did not want? I have little doubt the law would have been changed years ago or indeed would never have been made in the first place. This isn’t just about abortion, but the empowerment of women and true equality.
‘Pro-life’ in this context is to me a misnomer. I consider myself to be very much pro-life: I fully appreciate and am aware of the sacredness and preciousness of life, I work every day to save lives, prolong lives, preserve lives and to care for lives – so I am very much ‘pro-life’. And I am also pro-choice and respect the right of every woman to make the reproductive choices that are true for her and to have agency over her own body and life. To me those who identify as ‘pro-life’ in the abortion debate are more accurately described as having views that are anti-women, anti-abortion and anti-choice (anti-w-a-c).
For if we do not truly care for the walking, talking, fully living human being (woman) that is in front of us, then we cannot truly care for her unborn, but are just bringing an ideal and a belief of how we think life should be, rather than how it actually is. If we are not pro the life of the woman, then we cannot be truly pro the life of the unborn.
That said, I also know that putting people into camps or categories creates ‘us and them,’ before the talking even starts. It is a polarized debate, where emotions run high, each believing with passion and conviction that they are right and the other is wrong.
How can we advance this conversation in a mature and responsible way?
What if some of the current views are based on an understanding of life that is simply not true?
What if there is a way to understand life that allows the whole to be understood, not just a fragment or a linear snap shot of time?
What if these understandings can expand our understanding of abortion in a way that is healing and caring for all?
How can we get to the field beyond right and wrong – where we deal with what is true, what actually occurs in the world of energy that we live in?
So what is true?
- Unplanned pregnancy is a reality of life
- Banning or making abortion illegal does not stop it – so surely the true and loving response is to ensure it is performed in a safe and supportive environment
- A woman is an autonomous human being who has the right to self-determine, to have agency over her own body and reproductive choices
- A woman is responsible for her life, her choices and their consequences
- No-one has the absolute right to impose upon another adult human being how to live his or her life
- A foetus is dependent upon the life of the woman for its life, until such time as it is viable independent of her – until that time it therefore does not have independent rights that supersede the rights of the woman upon whom its life depends.
- Human beings are multi-dimensional beings with physical and non-physical or spiritual dimensions
- It takes three to make a baby – a sperm, an egg, and an incarnating spirit
- The body is a vehicle for the spirit and soul
- Birth and death are transitions from formless to form and form to formless – the spirit is there before birth and continues after death – so who we are as spiritual beings cannot be destroyed or killed. Death is a passing over, as who we truly are never dies
- After abortion, the physical flesh is no more, but the incarnating spirit will incarnate again, either to the same or a different woman – so the cycle of life continues
- Each of us has lived many lifetimes as men and women on the journey of life – a journey that is much bigger, much grander than the duration of any one physical incarnation, whether that is 8 weeks or 80 years
- We are on a journey of return back to the love we separated from, a journey of the spirit returning to the soul, which calls us to choose to live with, from and in love in our daily ways of living and relating
- The love that we are is not harmed, destroyed, killed or tainted by anything
If this is accepted as being true (as it is energetically true), it is clear that there is no need for any guilt or shame over abortion. Indeed in my experience, the guilt and shame comes not from having the abortion, providing the choice has been true, but comes from us taking on imposed religious beliefs that are not true. Beliefs that we are bad, sinners, evil, that we have destroyed life, that we only have one life, that God will punish us or that we will go to hell (a place that does not actually exist). Once we let these and other similar beliefs go, see them for the falsities that they are and come to know the truth of who we are and live from there – then we are free.
It seems to me that we have lost touch with our common humanity – the fact that there is no ‘us and them’ – only us. No matter what we believe, no matter what we hold to be true, we are all human, we are all imperfect, we are all living our lives to the best of our ability given who we are, our upbringing, education, culture, religion and all our experiences. This should give us the grace and humility to know we have not walked in another’s shoes, we have not lived another’s life – so who are we to judge them or to impose our ways onto them? We have replaced a true Christian response of acceptance, understanding, non-judgment, love and compassion with condemnation, judgment, denigration and a dehumanizing response that is far removed from the love of the Christ.
We have also lost touch with our innate divinity – we hold beliefs about ourselves that are not true, perpetuated by false religious teachings and so we hold ourselves as considerably less than the true Sons of God that we are, not appreciating the true glory, beauty and majesty of who we truly are. When we know the love of God by knowing who we are, we know that irrespective of the choices we make, we are always and forever held in the utmost love and never are we not.
By reconnecting with our common humanity and our innate divinity, we can come to see beyond right and wrong, and instead speak up for what is true.
Do we really want to be part of a society that seeks to potentially imprison 1000-2000 women/year, removing them from their families (possibly their other children) and jobs, because they exercised their fundamental human right to self-determination, to have agency over their own body and to responsibly choose if and or when to have a family?
Do we really want to be part of a society that forces women to have children against their will and with absolutely no consideration for them or their circumstances?
Do we really want to be part of a society that is discriminating against and abusing women by failing to decriminalize abortion in this country and to have it safely and readily available for those who choose it?
Patriarchal supremacy and religious fundamentalism are a toxic combination that at its heart is deeply anti-women and far, far removed from the love of God and the Christ. The way of the Christ, is the way of love, acceptance, understanding, non-judgment, equality and compassion – let those qualities be our chosen way.
Even though I have deeply healed on a personal level, I have been guilty of being a bystander, of staying silent and not telling my story or giving voice to my views on this subject, partly out of fear of the backlash, the judgment and whatever else might follow. But, knowing what I know, I can no longer stand by, stay silent and watch from the sidelines and allow this abuse and discrimination to go unchallenged.
If change is to occur then we, all who disagree with the current criminalization of abortion, must begin to stand up and speak up, to say that the current situation is unacceptable and untenable. We need to take whatever means possible, whether that is through local debate, government procedures, legal routes, the UK government, the European Courts, or the United Nations in order to bring an end to this blatant discrimination and abuse of women.