Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Unspoken Aspects of Abortion

Dear Compassionate Hearts:

There are two aspect to abortion that I have never heard anyone speak openly about.

1. We frequently say that men do not understand women and the issue of abortion. What we mean is that MEN CANNOT UNDERSTAND WOMEN, PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH AND ABORTION.

Logically, and to men and to those opposing abortion, pregnancy is a perfectly normal every day occurrence.  Giving birth and rearing children is a perfectly normal every day occurrence. Being poor is a normal every day occurrence.

But, BEING PREGNANT IS A REALLY BIG DEAL. There is nothing funny about it. According to my obstetrician, it the single most dangerous time in a woman's life. Pregnancies for many women involve:

  • Weight gain and fluid retention that are no laughing matter,
  • Severe headache & migraine, 
  • Back ache and muscle cramping,
  • Nausea that may last the entire pregnancy,
  • Insomnia,
  • Hypertension,
  • Onset of diabetes and a host of far more serious complications.
Of course, there are many medications that women cannot take while pregnant, so their medical conditions may have to go untreated.

Men can go on with their lives no matter what kind of pregnancy a woman has: no 9 months of migraine and nausea for them. A woman's life is determined by being pregnant.

Then there is childbirth - almost always portrayed humorously in the media. I have never heard of a funny birth. A woman's body is changed forever by pregnancy and childbirth. Her hormonal levels are changed. She may need stitches to the perineum and may have bruising. She may have had surgery. Her entire body is changed forever.

Men's bodies are not changed and they can go on with their lives after fathering a child. They don't have stitches in their penises, their breasts are not swollen to twice their normal size and their abdomen isn't shrinking back from having been stretched to accommodate another being who drained them of nutrition and energy for 9 months.

For too many women, childbirth is followed by postpartum depression, rarely but sometimes postpartum psychosis, sleepless nights, too little emotional and physical support and all of their other responsibilities.

Poor women are 5 times more likely to have an abortion than women who live above the poverty level. Women with no food in the fridge - or who are homeless, no car, no job, no support... just cannot face going through all of this to bring a baby into a joyless life.

Yes, I think it is safe to say that all men and many women have no idea what pregnancy and childbirth are like for those who did not plan and do not relish the very thought of it.

2. Then, there is the other element. I have only heard one person allude to this: The stark staring terror of being pregnant that leads women to go anywhere and do anything rather than continue the pregnancy.

Beyond the practicalities and the logical, there are women who are horrified by the thought of being pregnant. Who have never wanted to be mothers - or who just cannot do it again no matter what. Who have no logical reason or explanation but would rather be dead. Some of us can remember them from the 60's and early 70's.

No matter what my personal beliefs are about abortion, telling people not to have abortions won't stop them.

Telling people not to have sex won't stop people from having sex.

Telling people to use effective birth control every time- or, 2 types of birth control - doesn't work.

Keep abortion safe, legal, accessible and affordable - no matter what your personal beliefs.

Love, Vivian

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