How has my view of abortion changed since falling pregnant for the first time?
Originally posted on Lay It Out Magazine:
The decision to terminate a pregnancy wasn’t something that I had overly considered until I was actually taught about sex education and abortion at secondary school. From that moment on, I couldn’t understand why anti-abortion protesters and local governments would block access to vital healthcare.
I was automatically on-board with the pro-choice movement and didn’t think anything more of it. It wasn’t until I was 17 that abortion impacted my own family. My parents had chosen to terminate their much wanted pregnancy at 17 weeks gestation after having a fatal foetal anomaly diagnosis.
I very quickly realised at that point that abortion is much, much more than so-called unloving people terminating unwanted pregnancies. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of my adult life researching, communicating and advocating for better abortion legislation in the UK and across the globe.
Whether it be volunteering at baby loss charities or campaigning alongside abortion activists and providers, abortion has always been a huge part of my identity. I just truly feel we cannot, and should not, deny healthcare to those in need.
Plus, we all know the dangers that come with criminalising abortion access. In areas where abortion services are not legally available, pregnant people suffer. Their health and their lives suffer. No one should be forced to choose between continuing with an unwanted pregnancy and protecting their own health, security and safety.
“You’re not a parent - your opinion doesn’t count!”
Since showing my support for the pro-choice movement, I’ve heard it all. I’ve been told time and time again how awful or misleading it is that I support both those who choose to terminate and those who suffer a baby loss.
Likewise, how different I’ll feel about abortion when I fall pregnant and have a child of my own. I do not know what it is like to be pregnant, birth a child or raise one. How could I possibly support abortion as a mother?!
While I never believed these comments, because they’re ridiculous, it is funny to apply that logic to anything else. Imagine arguing someone couldn’t possibly support gay rights purely because they are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community themself. It doesn't really work.
My opinion of abortion has changed since being pregnant.
In November 2021, my long-term boyfriend and I decided we were ready to stop preventing pregnancy. To our own surprise, we fell pregnant within the first month. I’m current 23 weeks pregnant at the time of writing this, so do I feel any differently about abortion?
To be blunt, yes, I do feel differently about abortion now than I ever had before. I’m more pro-choice and pro-abortion.
When my partner and I found out we were expecting, we were ecstatic. I will remember the overwhelming joy of reading pregnant on the test. My heart was quickly full of love, but, of course, I was somewhat nervous for the future.
Making the decision to have a child is a massive step and even though I feel ready in a lot of ways, there’s a lot I’m worried about. No one really tells you what to expect during pregnancy alone. Of course, you hear about the morning sickness, sleepless nights and the labour, but there’s a lot I wasn’t prepared for.
I do not have a baby yet, but I have had to deal with being pregnant for the last five months. I was struggling at five weeks gestation. Growing a child is hard work.
One of the biggest cop-out comments you hear about pregnant people seeking abortions is “why don’t you consider adoption?” I’m not sure if anti-abortion protesters are aware that you still have to grow, carry and give birth to a full-sized baby in nine months time?!
The most difficult part of being pregnant is not always preparing for a baby, sometimes it is being pregnant. We need to stop idolising pregnancy as this wonderful, joyous time that has no worries or negative emotions. It isn’t always like that.
Battling my mental health during pregnancy
I’ve, thankfully, felt relatively good physically throughout my pregnancy so far but my mental health has certainly taken a hit. There’s a lot of worries during pregnancy, even for someone who's classified as low risk like me.
Since being pregnant, I’ve found myself in some of the worst mental states I’ve ever experienced. Of course, some of that will be impacted by pregnancy hormones, but ultimately being pregnant is just a lot to deal with.
I’ve found myself feeling anxious over massive decisions and questioning literally everything about myself. What if I’m not ready to raise a whole human or if I do something wrong? Can I actually be a parent? Where do I even start?
These are just some of the thoughts that have been tormenting my brain over the past 23 weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine the mental battles of being pregnant with a baby you know you’re not ready to or cannot have.
I’m praying for a healthy and happy little human and I’m still struggling. I have the support of a partner who loves me and I still feel like I can’t cope. How do we expect pregnant people to put their lives and mental health on hold for a foetus they do not want?!
How could you let anyone live nine months of their life with this ongoing torment? Especially when, in the UK at least, we live in a society where abortion is legally available. Pregnant people who choose to have abortions are not evil. They are not unloving. Most importantly, they are not doing anything wrong. They are choosing what is right for them at that moment.
I am pro-choice, pregnant and proud
I still support charities and orgnanisation fighting globally to better abortion access for everyone, becuase that is everyone’s right. Regardless of the decision I made
I support the decisions other people make when they find out their pregnancies, because I hope others will respect and support mine. I hope there is suitable support available for those who need it, because I hope there will be if I ever do, or my children do.
The truth is abortion is a necessary part of life as are many other reproductive healthcare procedures. Every healthcare patient has the choice of whether to accept their treatment, or whether to let life play out. Why is it any different for people wanting to decide whether to continue with a pregnancy?
Governments, professionals, friends and family are not in control of pregnant peoples’ lives. It is time we let them decide their fate, without the stigma and judgement of our own beliefs.
Being pro-choice is not necessarily being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is allowing people to make their own decisions, regardless of what decision you might make.
So, yes. You can support abortion and be pregnant or have pre-existing children. Pregnancy is challenging at the best of times. It certainly isn’t something I would wish on anyone who did not want it (and I haven’t even given birth yet!)
Read more of my work here!