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Full disclosure - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 1st, 2011

09:55 am - Full disclosure

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Okay so today I'm going to talk about some stuff that's pretty damn close and pretty damn raw. I was going to talk about some fluffy stuff but then I read The Hand Mirror and something that's been brewing for a while popped up.

Y'see, I believe in integrity as the ultimate goal - that is, where what's on the inside and what's on the outside are the same thing. For me, part of it is disclosure. How can I have complete integrity if I'm not completely honest about myself?

What I'm about to say might piss some of you off. If it does, you'll have to deal with it. We clear? Good.


I'm doing this because New Zealand's abortion statistics were released on Friday. There's the usual pro-life rhetoric going on around them, and in response, one of the blogs I read is doing a week of pro-choice postings. This morning's one struck a chord - Abortion as an act of love.

I'm curious about people's reactions to that statement. As the post says, the pro-life movement seems to have collared the monopoly on love in relation to pregnancy, and abortion is generally seen, even by pro-choice people, as something to be avoided if possible. Because abortion is messy and bloody and whether you believe it's murder or not, it's not normally something people associate with feelings of love.

I've had two abortions.

The first was when I was 19. I was two months into a relationship with the man who was to become my husband and I have no excuse - it was a result of silly neglect on my part. I knew that I was in no position to be a mother and I didn't want to be one, and I was not about to bring a child into the world that I didn't want and wasn't mature enough to care for. The father supported me in this decision. It was all very straightforward but we didn't tell anyone, just went and did it. I had to tell two doctors that to have the baby would mess with my mental health and to be honest, it was true. So this was an act of love not only for myself - a young woman not even really started yet - but for the child that would have been brought into a world where its existence was resented.

Life went on and six years later I had my son. While I was still breastfeeding my son, I became pregnant again. This is relatively common - one is not supposed to use oral contraceptives while breastfeeding and those of you who know me well will know how my relationship was going at the time. Let's just say that sex by this time was not my choice. My marriage was a bitter, ugly joke, my husband was trying to convince me I was insane, and there was no way I was bringing another child into this. I knew I was going to become a single parent at some point and was not willing to set myself and my child/children up to live in poverty. I chose to abort the pregnancy. This time my husband did not support me*. I went ahead and did it anyway, and while I was there I got them to insert an IUD because clearly I'm pretty damn fertile. I've had an IUD ever since and had no more problems.

So. If I had not had those abortions I would have three children. One would be 20, one 16 and one about 14. I am trying to imagine how my life would have been had I chosen to have those babies. It's actually pretty hard, but I'm guessing I would have found it much harder to leave my marriage with three children, and even if I did manage that I would have had to support them somehow. I doubt my ex husband would be any more forthcoming with child support for three kids than he is for one. He probably would have fought harder to make me stay in the same town, and maybe succeeded. The reason I left Dargaville was because I was struggling more and more to stay away from him under the pressure he was putting on me to go back to our marriage and I knew that if I didn't leave, eventually I'd give in.

I see my son struggling daily with the effects of being brought up in that environment and I think about myself and two other children also being in that environment. Remember, when I left I was messed up enough to believe that this man was a better parent than me, that I was insane and that my parenting was bad for my kid. I was entertaining suicidal thoughts on a regular basis. Now imagine me and three children having spent the last 16 years in that environment.

Instead, I have one child who I love very much. I don't need to reiterate how my life has gone, suffice to say that I am not dead, I am not insane, and I am not abused.

The two abortions I have had were acts of love. Love for myself, love for the children who didn't have to exist, and love for my son who got the chance to have a decent mother because of it.

Do I have any regrets? Yes. I regret allowing myself to end up in the position where I thought leaving my son was better for him than taking him with me. How the fuck did that happen? You'd have to have been there to understand and I'm aware (oh god i'm aware) that nobody else can ever judge me as harshly as I judge myself for that.

But I don't regret those abortions for a second.

Apparently I'm supposed to, if you read all the pro-life stuff. Abortion is supposed to have long term damaging psychological effects, I'm supposed to grieve for those babies not born. But how can I grieve when I know that what I did was the best thing I could have done for them?

And what about me? In this pro-life worldview, once a woman becomes pregnant it seems she is somehow secondary to her foetus, and all of her decisions must be about its welfare, its health, its survival. She doesn't even come into it, apparently. We are supposed to happily birth babies regardless of how we feel about being a parent, about pregnancy and childbirth, about the risks and the opportunity cost - because love only counts if it's love for your foetus/baby/child. Love for yourself, what makes you happy and fulfilled, is of less importance than that of a zygote.

Which is, frankly, bullshit. Unhappy, sick, abused, suicidal Tats was no kind of a mother. Happy, confident, engaged, fulfilled Tats is a good mother. By performing this act of love that gave importance to my own happiness equal to that of my unborn child, I ensured that the child I chose to be a mother to has a mother worthy of the title.

So I suggest to you that the next time someone mentions abortion as a bad thing, as something we should reduce the number of where possible, or even goes so far as to call it an act of hate or pontificate that access to abortion should be reduced, have a think about how you consider abortion. Do you think it's inherently a bad thing? Why? And are these thoughts based in experience or are they based in some idea that's been put into your head by someone who has an agenda?

* My body, my choice. He tried to make it about him but it.just.isn't.


I'm leaving this post open. It's a risk, I know. But, full disclosure. And I'm tired of feeling like I should have to hide things. If this upsets you, deal with it.

If you thought I was a decent person before reading this and now you're wondering if I am, please check yourself.

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From:pythia
Date:October 31st, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
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*hugs*

If anyone thinks that having an abortion makes you less of a person, or less of a decent person, they're not worth your time and energy anyway.

I honestly think that a lot of the time, having an abortion shows a personal strength and willingness to actually DEAL with an unwanted pregnancy. I have absolutely no problems with it whatspever, and if I ever got pregnant, I'm 99.9% sure I would have an abortion. I don't say 100% because I suspect it's one of those situations where you never quite know what you're going to do until you're actually in said situation.

I quite the like the idea of abortion as an act of love. It quite often is done out of love, I think.

Thank you for sharing this.

xxx
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From:clashfan
Date:October 31st, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
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I've known several couples who have had abortions. It's never seemed capricious to me, which is how it's so often painted by the anti-choice crowd.

Over here in the States, the left sometimes says things like, 'Safe, Legal, and Rare' meaning that we want contraception to be so easy to get and destigmatised to use that unwanted pregnancies don't happen that often. I think that's a pipe dream, myself. People make mistakes. Especially young people. Especially where sex is concerned. Pah, you don't need my ramblings on US-istan politics.

I've always thought you were a decent person. Nothing here changes that.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 31st, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
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The way that US politics has been attacking women's reproductive rights over the last couple of years is terrifying. I completely fail to understand the mindset that makes a foetus more important than a woman, until it's born after which nobody seems to give a shit.

And yes, mistakes happen, accidents happen and life doesn't go the way people plan it a lot of the time. Thanks for recognising that.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:October 31st, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
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I thought you were a decent person before this and now I think you're a decent person who has had to make some hard and (in my opnion) brave choices in the midst of some awful circumstances.

Anyone who judges you based on those choices is lacking in human empathy in some fundamental ways.
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From:bekitty
Date:October 31st, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
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*applauds*
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From:t_c_da
Date:October 31st, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
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I personally regard abortion as a no-no, but I'm a guy, so what would I know???

I'm not into judging, preferring to leave that to the One who can read ones heart and understands All the circumstances, two things I'm pretty crap at.

As you've described the situations, I believe you have taken the right decisions and acted on them appropriately, so there's no blame or judgement from me. And I don't think any the less of you for your disclosure.

You're due a hug next time we meet IRL, OK?

T C :-)
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From:friggasmuse
Date:October 31st, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you had access to a safe, legal abortion and didn't have to wait months to obtain one. <3
I've had two abortions as well; one at the start of my relationship with Lee (we were too new of a couple to even think about raising a child together and I had just begun my apprenticeship) and one years ago, when I was 19 and involved with a man ten years my senior, who didn't ever want kids.

I am so glad I made these choices and had control over my own body. I can't even imagine how a third child or a first child during those times in my life would have affected my entire future.

Abortion IS an act of love.
I'm so thankful for reproductive freedom.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 31st, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, me too.

Abortion here isn't legal, but there's a loophole that allows for the health of the mother either physical or mental, that has to be confirmed by two doctors. Consequently women can access abortion but still have to jump through hoops to get it, and that impacts negatively on those who have difficulty accessing two doctors within the time period (like women who live in isolated communities for example).

Pro-choicers in New Zealand are battling for it to be legal but we're not there yet. From what I hear, it's still miles better here than in the US. ;-/
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From:missgriim
Date:October 31st, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
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I completely support you. <3
It angers me that people still think of women as baby making machines when that isnt even half of what a woman is. and it also makes me angry that a woman is thought of as secondly important once she's pregnant. fuck pro/lifer's.
You were smart to not bring children into an unwise enviornment. These experiences make us stronger.
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From:missprune
Date:October 31st, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
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I applaud you and think you are a fine person.
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From:downwardlashes
Date:October 31st, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
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Amen. I had an abortion before both kids, back when my now-husband and I lived in a derelict shack in the middle of nowhere, I had no job, he worked at a gas station, and neither of us had graduated college. So I had an abortion, and all I felt was huge, immense relief. Gladness. No one mentions that emotion connected with abortion, but I know even so that it was the true emotion for me.
Then, we moved, my husband went back to school, I got a job I loved, we got married, THEN we had kids. And it was all good, and I still am glad. Good for you posting this. I still haven't mentioned it to my own journal, though maybe some people I know will see this since it is public. That's okay. I wish more people knew that abortion doesn't ruin your life.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:November 1st, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
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*hugs!* i think you did the right thing. it is not an easy decision, certainly, but in the end, the only person who could or should make that sort of decision is you...

i had an abortion 3 years ago in april, when my fiance and i had only been together for about 5 months. we agreed that we weren't ready to be parents yet. it was not like we weren't using birth control - we just had a failure... anyway, it was the right choice. it's interesting to call it an act of love, but i can see it: it was more loving of me to spare the potential breakup of the prematurely created family, not to mention the fact that i was in the middle of grad school and working slightly less than full time and really not prepared for it mentally or economically...
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From:polychrome_baby
Date:November 1st, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
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I've mentioned this a few places, so I certainly don't mind mentioning this here.

I had a pregnancy when I was 15 (to the age of 16) that ended in adoption. This was the best possible outcome considering all the intangible and tangible bits.

I had a pregnancy when I was 21 that ended in abortion.

I had a pregnancy when I was 35 (to the age of 36) that ended in the birth of my twins.

Each of these were right in their time and place. I am fortunate that I had the ability to avail myself of a private no-pressure adoption.

I am fortunate that I had the ability to avail myself of an easy and even quite early abortion (one that by current laws I'm not sure I'd even be able to, I was just a bit over 4 weeks pregnant, but was quite clockwork and immediately went to my doctor and scheduled the abortion which was then performed within the week - waiting periods and examinations being what they are now, I would have likely had to wait a good deal longer).

I am fortunate that I had the time and ability to not be a mother at all until I was actually in a solid position within which to do such. This made it possible to truly be a patient, open and caring mother to my two children. It also made it possible for me to not have children with the men who were the father of my previous pregnancies. They were singularly unqualified for fatherhood, and quite abusive.

Considering how I myself was so insane in my teenage years and early twenties, I don't know that I would have survived, and it seems quite likely that those children would have been put through hell.

So. Yeah. Abortion can be an act of love. Choosing to not be a mother can be a very loving act. It does seem like the more of us that are out about that, the better.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 1st, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
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Yes. It is almost expected that women will keep their personal story to themselves, as if it's something to be ashamed of.

I will not.
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From:guaparella
Date:November 1st, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
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<3
Never a question. Just love for you.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 1st, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
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I never got the pro-life thing. Shouldn't we all be deeply ashamed that when we do conceive we don't have a billion children? Otherwise, think of all those wasted sperm that won't turn into children.

Also, I am surprised it's not legal in New Zealand without the loophole you mention in another comment.

While I support women having the ultimate say in bearing children, I'd be really sad finding out a partner had one without discussing or mentioning it beforehand (not that it sounds like that was the situation for you!).
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From:caycos
Date:November 1st, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
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It would be sad, but, it'd also be not your decision.. My personal view is that if I got pregnant and was considering an abortion I would like to be able to discuss it with the potential father, but there are so many reasons why this might not be possible.

One reason might be where the woman fears that the man will, even unwittingly, influence the woman to take an action she didn't want to take.

I'm not in any way suggesting this would be a place you personally would be in, but what you express is an ideal that doesn't fit in to so many situations.
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From:bewarethefish
Date:November 1st, 2011 06:44 am (UTC)
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Having never been pregnant I can honestly say I don't have a clue as to whether I could make the decision to abort.

But do I support your decisions, and those of every other woman who does or doesn't make that decision? Heck yes.
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From:helianthas
Date:November 1st, 2011 06:53 am (UTC)
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I read this somewhere and really identified with it: "I love my children so much I decided not to have them."

I've always said I'd never have kids from my own eggs-- I've been unhappy that long. I had $300 in a jelly jar in my room when I was 14, we joked it was "the abortion fund", but all my friends knew that's what it was for: just in case.

My friends and I were lucky enough to have "scare 'em straight" yet still comprehensive sex ed and brave enough to insist on condoms -- it was kind of expected in the culture of my town, to tell you the truth, and I think most kids either went to another town over to buy em, shoplifted them, or took some from someone who did -- so I never had to use the fund.

What I'm grappling with right now is that I'd love to have a family someday, and while I still feel giving someone my DNA is a bad idea, it'd probably be a lot easier for me than adopting.

I'm a bit afraid to get pregnant because in my cace, i feel the loving choice is abortion and the selfish choice is to have the baby. "I love my children so much I didn't have them." It kinda hurts, but it's true.

So fuck anyone who says otherwise!

Off to read your link.

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