I found myself in a rather unfortunate exchange three days ago with Wayne West. I had promised myself to not engage people like Mr. West. I personally find his politics and his way of dismissing and demonizing people unacceptable and disrespectful.
Yet here I was in an exchange with the gentleman. It was primarily because he had used an article from the Gleaner with a picture of myself and declared on his facebook page that Third Wave feminists were the greatest threat to civilization. West’s proposition comes from his equating pro-choice women with Third Wave Feminism. This is of course not true, there are some women who believe that the decision over whether or not to have an abortion is a woman’s decision. I am pro-choice, I believe that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a a woman’s decision. I do not believe that I am sufficiently invested in the contents of a woman’s womb to want to engage decisonmaking to influence her choice to carry a child to full term.
Not all women or men who believe this are feminists. Some women have accessed abortions and are today living satisfied lives. They enjoy the fact that they got the chance to correct what would have been a grave mistake, they had to make a tough decision and having done so they are grateful and happy. Some of these women go on to have other children some dont, either way they took a decision and are living with the ‘consequences’ of their choices.
Wracked With Guilt
The idea that women who have had abortions are sitting at home wracked with guilt is an interesting one. If women are filled with guilt, is it because they are genuinely sorry they made the decision to have an abortion? Or is it because their decision has been so scrutinized in guilt and shame that the lense through which they view an abortion has been heavily tainted by societal drama and judgement? Too often those who speak against women being able to access safe abortions make the point that women suffer mental and emotional anguish from their decision and for that reason they should avoid the regret and self-blame and keep the pregnancy because when they take the first look into their child’s eye all becomes right with the world. This is of course true in some cases, but of course this is not always the truth.
A Man’s Voice in Abortion
I believe that a decision to carry a pregnancy to term or to terminate a pregnancy is one that a woman in the situation at the time must make. She has to decide which people weigh in on that decision, whether that includes the father of her child is again dependent on the woman and her life circumstances. Those who argue for a man’s voice in that decision are very much right but this of course depends on what are the circumstances of that pregnancy. I have met women who have had their pregnancy terminanted to fulfill the wishes of their male partner who then used that information to shame and silence the woman. I had a particular troubling experience once where a friend of my family got pregnant and was excited about her pregnancy, she told her father who seemed excited at first and offered to take her to see his doctor. She had already visited a doctor and had confirmed her pregnancy. When she left his doctor the day she was told she was not pregnant, the doctor asked her to lay down on his examination table and I think he gave her something to drink. She doesnt know what happened after, she woke up groggy and out of sorts, her panty had been put back on her body and she was taken home apparently no longer pregnant. The boyfriend broke off the relationship soon after and she cannot remember what took place in that doctors office. She was devastated and had no answers. I remember another young woman at UWI while I was studying who got pregnant and her boyfriend made it clear that she had no choice but to have an abortion. In his words “some girls you sleep with some you marry” she was the ‘sleep with’ type she couldnt carry his child. She had the abortion and their relationship ended soon after. So many of us can recite stories of women who ended a pregnancy at the behest of their male partner. I wonder then at the hypocrisy of those who speak as if men are victims of women who arbitrarily have abortions without consulting them. At a Gleaner Editor’s forum that I participated in recently one of the participants spoke about men being in pain from women’s decison to abort. I almost had a heart attack. I want to meet the man, because it perhaps is a lone man.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal one that a woman has to make with the people who she will need to lean on for support whether or not she carries that pregnancy to term. This might or might not include her male partner.
Third Wave Feminists advocate a range of principles, ideas and beliefs chief among them is the idea that all women, regardless of their race, socio-economic status, colour, sexuality or religious belief should be respected and their views taken into consideration when laws or policies are made that will affect them. Some women believe that they should be able to have an abortion some women believe it is wrong and that it goes against their philosophies of life and being. I respect their right to choose for themselves, I think women should be allowed to make those decisions for themselves.