It would seem that there is a new war of terror in America right now, and that is a war being waged on the female body. Once again, abortion has made itself a key issue in the US race for the White House. Presidential hopeful Republican Mitt Romney declared that he will be a ‘pro-life president’, stating that he believes the only situations that would permit the termination of a pregnancy in his view would be incest, rape or if the mother’s life was in danger.
So being 16, having a drug and alcohol problem, being in an abusive relationship, being financially unable to take on another child doesn’t cut the mustard? It must be great to have such a black-and-white view of the world. Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock lived up to his name a few days ago and made a complete dick of himself in a public debate declaring that he himself would not morally support termination of a rape-induced pregnancy as it was something he believed God intended to happen. Nice god he’s got. Does his god also intend incest?
It seems ludicrous that in a country where abortion has been legal in every state since 1973 that this continues to be the moral issue used to polarise the US voters. What about global warming, the war, refugees, unemployment… aren’t they bigger issues? Ironically while abortion is legal over there, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find physicians who will carry out the procedure for fear of the good doctor him- or herself being terminated by an overzealous pro-lifer.
Pro-lifers are so passionate about the right to life that they are prepared to shoot people. And they regularly do. As a woman I find middle-aged men arguing about whether or not we women have the right to continue with a pregnancy both offensive and ludicrous. As usual, after some blokes had a good time, we girls are left to deal with the consequences. I don’t see them arguing for mandatory vasectomies for irresponsible fathers. Or penis removal. That’s because as adult women and men, we have rights to privacy, and individual rights over our bodies. Men don’t have wombs. They have never had the responsibility to grow a foetus into a human. What happens once we become pregnant has never been their choice.
So why have our bodies become the landscape for political debate? Nearly every woman I know has a secret. She has had an abortion. This is not something we put on our Facebook status. Mandy Nolan: 44, pregnant seven times, four births, three abortions! Way to Go, Girl! For too long abortion has been shrouded in shame; it’s the dark secret we girls carry, the scar of a decision that we made, for better or for worse, that once made is unchangeable.
I have never met a woman who made the choice to terminate a pregnancy lightly. It’s awful. It is a deeply emotional and distressing decision, the consequences we have to live with for the rest of our lives. All of my terminations preceded the birth of my first child. While I sometimes wonder… what if? I have always known that I made the right decision – for me, and for my future children, and for whoever that child was going to be. It’s something I guess once done we don’t really speak about. There is a covenant of silence. When it’s broken, it’s like dropping a saucepan on tiles – just the word creates a clatter that puts your teeth on edge.
I once had a strange occurrence. I was hired as a comedian for a wedding. The Best Man kept smiling at me. His bearded face was kind, and somehow familiar, but I just thought he’d had a few champers too many. Later in the night he carefully revealed his identity. He was the doctor who’d performed my last termination. You don’t expect to be running into your abortionist at a wedding. It was hard to make polite chitchat. I couldn’t really ask him about work, but I thanked him anyway, and wished him luck. ‘Hope you don’t get shot,’ I joked.
Yes, we get to play god over our bodies. I would ask those particular men out there who continue to harp on about the immorality of abortion to stop trying to play god over us. Try something closer to home, and play god over your dick.