Is it possible to be 'pro-life' and support abortion? Is it possible to be pro-choice, whilst valuing life? I believe so.
I put pro-life in quote marks, because I wouldn't call myself it. I am pro-choice ultimately. But I value life and pregnancy a lot. I care and I feel. I know the struggle it can be to fall pregnant, and to have a pregnancy end unexpectedly. I know (some of) the pain that comes with losing a baby.
When my parents lost a baby in 2015 at 17 weeks, all of our lives changed. At that time, I was still pro-choice, but it suddenly occurred to me that life doesn't always go the way we plan. The way we want. Daisy has impacted my life in ways I never imagined. I knew that we would still be remembering her nearly 4 years on. But I never knew she would lead me to this fight, with myself, society and the law.
Although I always use the phrase 'we lost a baby', technically Daisy was aborted. My parents chose that option after finding out that Daisy had Trisomy 18, which would make it very difficult, or impossible for her to survive outside the womb. When she was born we were told that in fact she wouldn't have survived till full term. My mum longed for another baby for 2 years before falling pregnant, so you can imagine the heartbreak she suffered after. We all suffered. As someone who isn't a mother, I find myself very attached to Daisy and the little life she had. She made a big impact for the few weeks she was with us.
I can't begin to imagine the pain of losing a child as a mother, losing a sister was hard enough.
Since Daisy's birth, I have spent 3 years working with a baby loss charity in my local area. We offer support, guidance and counselling to families who need it the most. I met wonderful people, with heartbreaking stories. I quickly realised how common baby loss actually was, considering I'd never really thought about it till Daisy. I never knew so many people needed the support that we provide.
Truth is, one in four pregnancies will end in a loss. That's the same statistic as mental health diagnosis's. 1 in 4.
In my final year at university I decided I wanted to write my dissertation on abortion. I needed to explore these ideas and thoughts in my head. I knew there was something missing from our current legislations, and public opinion. Why is abortion portrayed negatively? Why does it always have to have a justification to make it better? Is it always bad?
And why, after everything I've seen and heard, do I still support it? We've had babies survive at 23 weeks at my hospital, yet we can have terminations until 24? I've met hundreds of individuals who have struggled, and continue to do so. People who can't fall pregnant. People who have multiple miscarriages. How can I support something that takes away what some people want so desperately?
Then I found Ellie Lee's writing. She was the first person I had read who actually spoke of abortion being a loss. That you can still grieve and care. That sometimes all you want is for a healthy baby but life doesn't turn out that way. That sometimes abortion is the one thing you never want to do, but is the only thing you can. I knew then that that was what I had been missing. I needed to stop feeling bad about supporting something that a lot of families need. I needed to stop telling myself that I SHOULD be pro-life. That I should want every pregnancy and life to be perfect.
Life isn't perfect. Pregnancy can be unexpected. Loss happens.
What now? I can accept that I agree with the legalisation of abortion. So everyone I've met, all those stories? They're nothing? I remember talking to my dissertation supervisor about the idea of being both pro-life and pro-choice. Its a difficult concept. I always say that no one is ever 'pro-abortion'. Its not something any of us like or promote. Its just necessary to life. I feel like being pro-life has more meaning attached to it. It is relatively self-explanatory. Pro-choice is tricky. Theres lot of different meanings to pro-choice. A lot of individuals will call themselves pro-choice but are maybe not completely fluid with the idea. I read and hear a lot of people saying that pro-choice is supporting abortions that happen for health reasons of the mother or foetal anomaly. Or that pro-choice is allowing women to terminate their pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault. Or that it is allowing women to terminate when they're very early on in the pregnancy.
For me, none of that is pro-choice. Because none of it offers true, unlimited choice. It all has limitations and restrictions. Pro-choice, I believe, is supporting individuals in their decision to terminate a pregnancy, for whatever reasons of their own, even if you wouldn't personally.
I know in myself that I would find it very difficult to go through with an abortion if I ever had to. I'm 21 years old. I live with my parents. I have very little financial security. I am only at the beginning of my career. I haven't travelled half as much. Im nowhere near ready to give up my social life. Or my sleep. I haven't fought, or won, nearly as many battles as I want to.
On paper, I would be crazy to have a baby now.
It sounds cliche, but only thing that outweighs all of that is love. I'm a very emotional person, overly attached to some extent. I love babies and children. I love the idea of creating a human. I have so much love to share. I also feel a very heavy weight of valuing pregnancy. If I were to fall pregnant, I'm not sure I could just let that go. I don't think I could lose something that someone else craves. I love that my body could potentially create and carry a person. That's amazing. Its something I truly treasure about my body. How could I give that up? For the sake of what? Being tight for money or still living with my parents?
Thats just me. I love and I care and I show emotion. And in all honesty, it doesn't matter what I would do. Im not pregnant. But someone is. Maybe that someone can't carry on. I don't judge them for that. When an individual decides that they want to end their pregnancy, what does that have to do with me? I don't live their life. I don't have to carry that foetus for 9 months. I don't have to go through childbirth. If it's not me, then my opinion, or what I would or wouldn't do, doesn't matter. All that matters in that moment is that that individual makes the decision that is best for them. That they freely decided.
To me, thats all there is to it. What I would do doesn't matter. So yes, I guess I am somewhat 'pro-life'. I cherish life when it is given, whether that is at conception or birth. The idea of losing a baby that is so unbelievably wanted, combined with the personal experiences I've had make it very difficult for me to not see pregnancy for the beauty that it is. I hope I am fortunate enough to never be placed in a situation where I had to make that decision. Until its me, or effects my life personally, I will never stop anyone from being able to make their own decision. I will continue to attempt to normalise it, and remove the stigma. And hopefully help to create a world in which all individuals, globally, can access free abortion care.
We will continue to fight.