I was 13 weeks into my first pregnancy when they told me there was no heartbeat and that I’d had what they call a 'missed miscarriage'.
My options were all unpleasant. I chose surgery, essentially a D&C and not unlike an abortion, to have what to me was already my baby, removed from me. It was not a procedure I can imagine anyone choosing to go through simply because they have the choice. And it is something I would have hated to have done in another country, away from the comfort of home and loved ones. When it was over all I wanted was the safety of home and to hide there.
By that stage the partially formed tiny person inside of me already meant so much. I’d given it a gender, imagined what it she was going to look like, what kind of person she would turn out to be.
I spoke about my baby although the medics talked about 'my pregnancy', the foetus. My mind told me this wasn’t yet a child but my heart, my soul, said otherwise.
I could never, ever personally imagine a situation in which I would choose to abort my own child. I’ve considered this at length, although I hold firm with the belief that none of us know how we would really react until we’re actually experiencing something.
But then I’ve been lucky enough so far to have never been in a situation where I have to consider abortion.
I’ve never been pregnant and alone, without support or in an abusive relationship.
I’ve never been pregnant while mentally ill, physically ill or drug dependent.
I’ve never been pregnant as a result of having been raped or sexually abused.
When I became pregnant I was ready, prepared and financially stable.
The point is, I don’t have to want to have an abortion myself, and I just have to believe in every person’s right to choose.
Being a mother, having carried babies, and having also lost babies that were wanted, I can see both sides, and I understand why it’s so important that I and my daughters should at least have a choice.
What if one of my daughters becomes pregnant at 16 or 17 and isn’t able to cope with her situation? Should she be forced to go through with her pregnancy? Or shipped off across the channel, shamefully swept off to be someone else’s statistic?
What if I, approaching my forties, find myself dealing with a crisis pregnancy which may put my health or indeed my life at risk? What about my daughter’s? Do they not have rights? Do I not owe it to them to be able to protect myself?
What if any of us are raped and find ourselves pregnant? Could we really be forced to carry a child in that situation without at least the choice to not go ahead with it?
I’ve listened to both sides. To all the arguments. There are things I agree and disagree with on both sides. But ultimately one sentence trumps every argument, every other view point. And that is that a woman MUST have a choice. She must have the right to choose what is right for her life, for her body.
To carry a baby through pregnancy is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And my pregnancies were all wanted and safe. To have to do that under duress for any reason could destroy a person. Not to mention being forced into parenthood when perhaps you are not mentally ready.
Of course every human being has a right to life. I agree strongly with that. I believe that as humans we are all equal and should be treated as such, regardless of gender, nationality, ability, sexuality.
But in the case of a mother and the baby she is carrying, where one is equal to the other, common sense must prevail.
And to me that means allowing women, parents, the choice. And we must trust women to make the right choice for both themselves and the unborn child for which they are responsible. No woman makes such a choice lightly, trust me. No matter what some would have us believe no woman aborts babies willy nilly. There is always a reason, it is always considered carefully. We must trust women, mothers, to decide what is best for them. But we must decide to give everyone a choice.
Remember, you’re not voting for yourself. You’re voting for every woman. Your mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend.