Sit down internet people, its story time. Now don’t panic, just because this a personal experience regarding the topic of abortion, it is not going to be a long emotional journey about me having an abortion. I have been very fortunate in my contraceptive-friendly sex life and never had to undergo that particular hardship.
No, this is a story about one reassuring sentence and the feeling of safety that the NHS provided me when I was 17.
First thing, to set the scene of this story, you should know that I am a massive hypochondriac. Obama and the rest of American’s NSA, who have probably read all of my Google search terms, can vouch for this. As soon as I get a headache I am straight on Dr. Net to see if it’s a brain tumour (it never is). This year, after having a slight cough for over two weeks, I went to the GP and asked the nice lady doctor what the odds were of it being a sign of lung cancer – turns out the odds were pretty slim for a 20 year old, non-smoking woman.
With my obsession for checking weekly what ailments I might have conducted from sitting in a cow field, and with all the moaning to friends that I may not be long for this world (at this point, I think some wouldn’t mind if my imagined illnesses bumped me off), being a hypochondriac is pretty exhausting. All other hypochondriacs would agree. But if there’s one thing that’s worse than being a hypochondriac, then it’s being a female hypochondriac.
Vaginas, in my opinion, are nothing more than worry boxes. If you’re not worrying about your knickers giving you a yeast infection, then you’re worrying about whether or not there’s an unwelcome lodger up in your lady room – I’m talking about being pregnant.
I became sexually active around the age of 17 (there’s some information for you, Mother) and right away, despite being on the pill, I started worrying about whether or not I was pregnant. Maybe there was a day were my nipples were a little tender, obviously that became a sign I was up the duff. Did I start craving weird food? PREGNANT! Even if I farted a little too much, in my mind there could be no other explanation other than I was with child (looking back, I was probably just eating too much chips, beans and cheese).
Then one month I was… dun, dun, dun! A WEEK LATE FOR MY BLOODY MARY! (That’s a period, for you small portion of men folk who read this blog).
For some reason, I’m not sure why, I took myself down to the GP to confess my uterus concern and ask, in a much panicked voice, ‘THIS PILL MILARKY WORKS, RIGHT?! YOU’RE NOT JUST GIVING ME TIC TACS?!’
Maybe it was because my GP was a woman, but to my mad concerns she only gave me a knowing, bemused, yet at the same time, reassuring smile. She had obviously faced idiot teenagers like me before. “There’s no need to worry,” was the first thing she told me. Apparently, if you use the pill correctly, you are well protected.
But that’s not the advice I found the most reassuring, it’s what she said next, and despite it being four years since this fateful talk, I can still remember the words she said.
“And besides, if the worst was to happen, it’s not the end of the world. You have a lot of options.”
I can’t really put into words the feeling of relief and comfort I derived from that statement. It was like someone had just reached over and given my nervous, shaking body the hug it never knew it needed. This is the power of choice, of having options, of learning that you are not a prisoner in your own body.
When I engage in contemporary debates about abortion it is not the abortion itself that I want in my life (no woman ever wants to have an abortion, if it were up to us we would only get pregnant by flicking a switch on our wombs) but the choice and option of an abortion. It is a safety net, a warm loving hug from society that liberates you from fear from the very thing your soul inhabits, and when you look at abortion from this point of view and not the view that OMGZ YOU WANT TO MURDER CHILDRENZ, you start to see the problem with many cotemporary abortion orientated views.
Take for instance this business with Texas. What Wendy Davis did to halt that abortion bill was incredible, but chances are those Republicans are going to find a way to put it through regardless. This one bill will in effect have a state, which is THREE TIMES the size of the UK, have only six available abortion clinics and all of these clinics will be situated in metropolitan areas. This means if you come from a low-income family, living outside of these limited areas, abortion may as well be banned.
A bill of this stupidity basically rips away all the compassion and reassurance that I experienced in that GP office and transforms the female body into a ticking time bomb. Women start to fear their own vaginas; start to feel helpless against the statistics of contraceptive success rates. Suddenly you no longer view your IUD as 99% effective, but live in terror of being that 1%.
For a hypochondriac, it is a nightmare, but for some women it might be a reality. After all, heeding the advice of that GP, if you don’t have options sometimes it really can feel like the end of the world.