Heartbeat – A Woman’s Right

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Outrage. Annihilation. Protest. Eradication.

Hate me.

I have exercised my rights as a woman to make decisions concerning my body, my health, the quality of my life and that of my family. I have opted to terminate a pregnancy. Twice.

Did you know that it is estimated that one in four pregnancies worldwide end in an abortion every year? That means the need for this basic healthcare is crucial for millions of girls and women across the world, and yet, access to safe and legal abortion services is far from guaranteed for those who may be in need of such services.

Are you cringing yet?

I get it, I really do – abortion falls under the taboo topic for many people. Gets them all fidgety and uncomfortable-like. I wonder if those are the same folks that squirm when confronted with stuff like gay and lesbian rights, gender equality or racism. Okay, maybe I actually don’t get the cringing…

I don’t tend to watch the news either. At all. This can quite possibly be considered ludicrous behavior in this day and age, but it is true. I have deliberately chosen to not keep up-to-date and informed on the latest catastrophes and negative events constantly circulating in the world, and I have survived just fine for twelve years without it.

I’m a firm believer in choosing what I allow into my experience. When I watch something that is disturbing, I’m inviting the essence of that into my inner-world – my sacred sanctuary. For instance, it affects me deeply when I witness the hate, suffering, violence and war infecting the earth. And mostly, I want to feel good as much as I can, so I try to avoid whatever brings discord. That might be considered selfish on my part, but sometimes we need to be a little selfish in order to protect ourselves.

I didn’t need to hear the newsflash about the girl that was dismembered and stuffed into a suitcase. And I definitely didn’t need to know about the outrageously absurd “Heartbeat” abortion laws denouncing women’s rights. But some things don’t slip past my radar. Unfortunately.

The Heartbeat abortion law effectively outlaws the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy. Pam Belluck from The New York Times, “These so-called “Heartbeat” laws ban abortion after the point when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This often occurs as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when an ultrasound may be able to detect the pulsing of what will become the fetus’s heart.”

At first, I thought it might be a sick joke played out by some over-privileged, chauvinistic male politician with a mundane haircut and a nose like a snout. Turned out, I was wrong (at least, on some counts). I mean, six weeks? There is actually no heart to beat in a six-week embryo. A tiny cluster of cells and pulsing tissue doesn’t constitute a heart.

Who actually knows they’re pregnant before the six-week marker for certain, anyway?

A lot of pregnancy tests fail to pick up on the elevated HGH (human growth hormone) levels in the system that early on – and trust me I know; I’ve been pregnant eleven times. Yep, you could say I used to be a very fertile woman. All I’d have to do is flutter some dark bedroom eyes toward my partner and bam – there was some funky, cell-clustering, tissue-pulsing action going on, and I’m not talking about the orgasmic variety either. That part happened prior to the big bang.

The same isn’t true these days because I exercised another of my human rights and chose to undergo an endometrial ablation – a surgical procedure that destroys the lining in the uterus, and therefore I can no longer become pregnant. I killed cells and living tissue; is that illegal too?

Sexual and reproductive rights mean we should be able to make our own decisions about our own bodies. Yet all over the world many of us are persecuted for making our own choices and many more are prevented from making any choices at all. Last time I checked, we weren’t living in the Stone Age. Surely time is not spiraling in the other direction toward a primitive ethos hanging between the legs of cowering cowards? Haven’t women suffered enough beneath misogynist perspectives designed to appease self-gratifying ambitions to exert dominance over us?

Women and girls continue to suffer at the blunt end of an archaic bludgeon in many ways and in so many countries across the world. But it is delusional to think that preventing us from accessing an abortion does not mean we will stop needing one. Attempts to ban or restrict abortions will accomplish nothing but to force people to seek unsafe alternatives.

I have given birth to five healthy babies, lost four more through miscarriage, and chosen to abort two pregnancies. That is a freedom of choice I rightly own as a woman and a human being; a freedom born to me, and that right shouldn’t have to be entrusted to or dictated by any government or religious deity.

Enduring a miscarriage is difficult; I have experienced the loss, heartache and the emotional pain that accompanies miscarriage. It stays with you for a long time. During the aftermath, you battle wretched feelings of failure and inadequacy, and you wonder if that somehow you did something wrong, that you deserved to lose the pregnancy. But if anyone assumes that choosing to undergo an abortion is any less difficult than a naturally occurring abortion, than they would be a mistaken.

The fact is, choosing to abort a pregnancy does not come lightly; it does not come without first dredging into your soul and searching your heart; and it does not come without consequences. It has seen me plunge into the depths of depression and despair that was so dark, I couldn’t see a pin-drop of light for the longest of times.

So, I ask, do you think a decision like that is taken with a grain of salt? That an experience like that is easily forgotten?

For every woman and girl that chooses to have an abortion, I can almost guarantee the same holds true for each of them. We don’t need to be judged for our choices; we already do that enough for ourselves. We don’t need anyone to make us feel ostracized or guilty either; we’ve got that covered too. And we don’t need to be forced to sneak around to find dirty backstreet clinics run by a sleazy guy with a rusty hook and risk our lives in order to exercise a right that belongs to us.

I am not necessarily a feminist activist. I don’t participate in outrage culture. Hell, I don’t even watch the news. But I am woman, and every woman knows how it feels to be a woman in today’s world; every woman knows the struggles we face as women, and the lack of equality that still lingers. Sometimes, some us have to speak up.

Taking away our rights and personal choices as women is wrong. It’s just wrong.