Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I sometimes hate myself

One of the reasons I stopped writing publicly was the internal struggle I have been through over the way I ended my pregnancy. I have felt at times ashamed of our decision and unworthy of allowing myself the status of a'grieving mother', as I had a large part in choosing Olidea's death day. I know she was going to die, whatever we chose. I know we had very, very, good reasons, but there is a very strong cultural judgement on women who abort their pregnancies.
We are lucky here in Australia to have far fewer extremists, women can still 'hide' their pregnancy terminations without being barracked by pro-lifers all the way to the doors of the clinics, but the judgement is still there regardless. The word 'abortion' is thrown about publically, generally taken to mean the elective termination of a healthy pregnancy by a single, healthy woman who became pregnant through irresponsible sexual activity.

But it's not always like that. I know that many times it is, and I do feel sad for those women, who should 'know better'. But I ask myself, why are they in that situation? There are many girls who are brought up without the level of education I have been priveledged to receive. There are many girls brought up without a caring, supportive family to develop their self-esteem. Some women are not mentally capable of being held responsible for their actions. Sometimes a relationship may change between the time of conception and an awareness of pregnancy, or shortly thereafter. There are many, many reasons why a woman may seek an abortion. I cannot stand by and join the crowd of condemnation. I'm one of the judged.

I found that through June/ July, on that other 'social networking' site that I frequent, I was often noticing polls being posted about abotions. Sometimes it was asking for a personal answer to whether you yourself wouold ever consider having one, sometimes it was asking whether women should be allowed access to them, with no regard for personal choice. I found myself becoming more and more affected by this external echoing of the struggle I was mentally tormented by.
I went to the message boards of these polls, and began to engage in pointless arguments with people who couldn't see past the 'killing babies' headline tags. In the end, I gave up. I couldn't win. People told me that women who have abortions for reasons other thatn irresponsiblity and inconvenience are so few, that they should not be allowed to be considered in the debate. Thanks. That's my life you just discarded. When I explained that I am, indeed, one of these 'rare and extreme' cases, I was told that the way my pregnancy was ended didn't count, because I was chemically induced well before term with the intention of ending the baby's life, that's not a termination. Apparently you have to have the foetus or embry removed in pieces, injected with poison and the procedure must be performed at a dedicated abortion clinic for it to count.

The thing that really gets to me is the throwawy line used so indiscriminately by the pro-life brigade. All life is precious. Sorry, but no it bloody isn't. Some babies are condemned at conception to lead a life of suffering, either physical or mental. How dare you say that you stand upon the moral high ground, because you believe all children deserve to be brought into this world, regardless of their preparedness for 'LIFE"?

Olidea is the most precious part of my life. She is the centre of my world, but if I had a crystal ball that said I would grow a chld with such gross abnormalities within my womb, I would never have tried to conceive her at all. We are trying again, hopefully our next child will be free of these grotesque malformations, but if we lose another child like this, I will be first in line for a hysterectomy.

I have since discussed this with some women at Sids and Kids. I have become much more at peace with my decision. I have allowed myself to accept that we made this decision with love for our daughter foremost in our minds and our hearts, and there it will remain. I am no longer ashamed of ending her life, and I am glad that she didn't have to suffer any further pain or discomfort. I have also become interested in the development of pain receptors in the foetal brain, but that is a separate issue.

Parenthood does not begin with the birth of your healthy child with a bright future. Parenthood begins when you take responsibility for the life within, whether that is when you are planning to conceive, or have just become aware of your pregnancy. All children have the right to a safe, nurturing and loving environment. That is what they need to grow and reach their own potential. An unborn baby needs this too. If a woman physically or mentally cannot supply this for 40 weeks of pregnancy, what right does anybody else have to force that on her children?

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