After 21 years, it finally looks as if we are making some headway with legislating for the X case. However, having studied the wording of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, it is clear that little will really change here, and the familiar scenario of women booking a flight to the UK will be replicated again and again. There is no provision for women or girls who are victims of rape and/or incest, nor is there one for women with fatal foetal abnormalities. I am cognizant of the fact that the government has limited scope with which to legislate, it is becoming increasingly clear that, in order for real change to take effect, we need to repeal the eighth amendment. At the minute, the debate is framed in terms of saving lives, but what of women who-whisper it- are simply pregnant and no longer want to be? The anti-choicers have set the agenda for the abortion debate here to the extent that we rarely hear from women who have lost jobs and livelihoods; women in abusive relationships; mothers who have had their supports cut due to harsh austerity merits and can barely support the family she has, let alone a new baby.
Once the legislation is in place, there is still some work to be done to create real reproductive choice for women in this country
Access-women need to be able to have access to a safe abortion. As it stands, abortion is a reality in this country, but by and large these women are women of means. According to @AbortionSupport, women who travel to the UK incur expenses of anywhere between £400 and £2,000 or more, and that is before we take into consideration payment for necessaries such as childcare. Rural women, poor women and young girls who are dependent on their parents need to be able to undergo abortions at a location that is convenient, involving a minimum of expense and time.
One of the most crucial changes that needs to occur is putting an end to abortion stigma. Women need to be supported in their choice and feel that they can be upfront with their GPs and other health professionals. Abortion on request is frequently presented# as a lifestyle choice by people such as this misogynist, but abortion is more often than not a very responsible choice.Twelve women a day travel for abortions-they are our sisters, cousins, friends, girlfriends, wives and co-workers. This is not some abstract academic conversation, it is an everyday reality for women, so why can’t a woman say in a confident and matter-of-fact way “I had an abortion?”
Of course, to ensure real reproductive choice, women and families must also have the necessary support. The religious right constantly bandies about phrases such as “anti-family” when referring to marriage equality, but are reluctant to describe the inhumane regime of austerity, that is deeply detrimental to well-being of families as such.
While the need for access to contraception and comprehensive sex education for young people goes without saying, we must also remove the stigma against teenage pregnancy and parenting. We need to demolish the baseless, misogynist myth of the feckless girl who “got herself pregnant” and value teenage mothers
Finally, we need to stop idealising the so-called “traditional” family unit of Mum, Dad and 2.4 children and value all family arrangements, be they single mums or dads, same-sex couples, foster families, etc. A cheesy cliché it may be, but support, nurturing, respect and love is not exclusive to “traditional” set-ups.
Pro-lifers urge us to “love them both”. I agree; let’s love all children who are wanted and love women, their lives and their right to choose.