Why I’m Angry Today
Today I saw something on Facebook that had me hammering out an essay in the comments section on the post of an ex-colleague. Oh my biscuits I was furious.
A picture of a newborn baby cradled between two hands with the caption:
“Abortion is the gravest human rights violation of our time.”
OH. MY. SWEET. POTATO.
As I began to go through the comments section I was horrified at some of the responses. The lack of understanding and compassion for women who have to make that difficult choice. I cannot begin to imagine how it might have felt to read some of that hateful nonsense if I had gone through what many other women have.
So I started drafting my long response, with some facts and figures thrown in and shared a few messages with an equally outraged friend.
After a few minutes of venting and writing, I realised something.
This is not the place.
So instead, I’m writing in a forum where my thoughts won’t necessarily be immediately viewed as a direct attack on my ex-colleague and the conservative views of the little island I call home.
Let me begin with addressing the quote directly.
Some current human rights violations that I am concerned about off the top of my head:
- The detainment of Uighur Muslims (and others) in internment camps in China. Article 2, Article 5, Article 7, Article 9, Article 18
- The ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement risking the lives of millions through the spread of preventable disease and preventing children from accessing basic medical care. Article 25, Article 29
- The Flint Water Crisis. Article 2, Article 7, Article 25
- The abuse and separation from their families of children at the US/Mexico border.* Article 5, Article 9
I’ve added some of the Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights each of these violates, you can find the full document in the references below along with some references for further reading on any of the above.
*Seeing as 3 of the points here are largely focussed in the United States (I’m not even going to get into the Trump thing), I’d like to mentioned their failure to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The USA and Somalia are the only two countries in the world who have failed to do so (Somalia is unable to due to not having a recognised government). With that being said — nearly all human rights violations disproportionately affect children and vulnerable people.
The idea of comparing the individual, often painful, decision to end a pregnancy to this kind of shit that is going on in the world. I just…I can’t find the appropriate words.
For a little context — I currently live in a country where the following are true:
- There is no free contraception available, and condoms are the only option for someone like myself who is unable to use hormonal contraceptives.
- The ‘morning after pill’ only became available here at the end of 2016, and even now there are a limited number of pharmacies that carry it. It also costs around 30/35 euros, which is a prohibitive cost to some women who may need access (think of teenage girls with no income of their own as an example).
- Its is the only country in EU, and 1 of 4 in the world, where abortion is illegal under ANY circumstances with NO EXCEPTIONS. Both the EU and UN have expressed serious concerns about women’s sexual and reproductive rights here.
- If you travel abroad to end a pregnancy you can face criminal charges on your return (even so, the rate of abortion here is very much in line with other countries in the EU, with around 4% of women willing to take the risk of travelling for the procedure).
And just as a general background to life for women in general:
- No form of contraception is 100% effective — and the ‘morning after pill’ does not guarantee you will not fall pregnant.
- Not all sex is consensual — including within relationships. Consent includes the agreement to use contraception (or not).*
- Following point 3 — tampering with contraceptive methods is a known form of ‘coercive control’ used by men to control their female partners by causing an unwanted pregnancy. Honestly — it wasn’t something that had ever crossed my mind until one of my university lecturers brought it up in a seminar on violence against women but I have never forgotten it.
*An article written by Alice Smith for the Malta Independent on Women’s day last year quotes “a staggering 36 per cent of respondents believed that at least one situation justifies making a woman have sex against her will.” The full article also mentions access to contraception and is linked below.
Oh and let’s add some abortion-specific ranting:
- Making abortion illegal does not prevent abortion. There is no evidence that this is the case. What it does do is limit access to safe, medical procedures for women who are already vulnerable. Regardless, forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is probably not going to have a positive outcome for anyone involved. Brilliant.
- Abortions, especially late-term abortions are also carried out on wanted pregnancies. Please do not add to women’s pain and grief by shaming them for doing what they believe is best for themselves / their baby / their family.
- In response to a specific comment on the post that initiated this — pregnant women do not owe you anything. I am truly sorry if you are struggling with fertility, and I wish you all the best, but that is not the responsibility of every woman who is able to conceive.
- If you don’t agree with abortion, you can choose not to get one.
Pro-choice does not equate to pro-abortion:
On a final note, I’d like to clarify that being pro-choice does not mean that I am ‘pro-abortion’. To be honest I can’t imagine it being something I would ever do, but I would really like to have the choice should I ever find myself in a situation where it seems to be the best or only option. And I certainly will not be in the business for shaming or condemning women for their choices.
- Detainment of Uighur Muslims in China: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-45474279
- Anti-Vaxxers listed in the top 10 threats to Global Health in 2019 by WHO: Listed in top 10 threats to global health by WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019
- Some facts on the Flint Water Crisis: https://michaelmoore.com/10FactsOnFlint/
- Border Crisis in the US: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/27/migrant-children-sexual-abuse-complaints-filed-documents-hhs
- UDHR: http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
- UNCRC: https://www.unicef.org.uk/what-we-do/un-convention-child-rights/
- Information on contraception in Malta: http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2019-02-09/local-news/Maltese-reluctant-to-move-towards-modern-contraceptives-gynaecologist-6736203275
- Morning after pill becomes available in Malta: https://lovinmalta.com/lifestyle/living-in-malta/things-maltese-people-should-know-before-using-the-morning-after-pill
- Abortion rates in Malta: http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2018-02-04/local-news/300-to-400-Maltese-women-go-abroad-for-an-abortion-each-year-AD-chairperson-6736184440
- Malta criminalisation of abortion and changing attitudes: https://www.euronews.com/2016/05/12/malta-s-abortion-ban-i-m-not-a-criminal-i-m-a-loving-mother
- Effectiveness of contraceptive methods: https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/facts/birth-control/chart/
- Alice Smith’s Women’s Day Article: http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2018-03-11/blogs-opinions/The-last-12-months-as-a-woman-in-Malta-6736186020
- Article about reproductive coercion: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/09/reproductive-coercion-abuse-women-control-choices