Abortion holds a unique space in our society. Few other medical procedures are wished to be both ‘legal’ and ‘rare’. Few medical procedures sit within the Crimes Act. And very few medical procedures require the recipient to ‘deserve’ them.
People tie themselves up in knots deciding where their barometer lies. Some say it’s murder, but acceptable in cases of rape or incest. Some say it’s murder, but acceptable in cases where the pregnant person may die. Somehow this ‘murder’ becomes acceptable when the recipient is a ‘good girl’. Somehow it’s acceptable when the person isn’t a ‘slut’.
But before cognitive gymnastics interfere in the process, most people know instinctively that abortion isn’t the same as murder. If I were to hold a gun to an infant or a fertilised embryo, which one would you save?
A fertilised embryo is a fertilised embryo. It neither walks nor talks and does not have personhood. To give it rights, at the expense of the person carrying it, is in my view nonsensical.
A pregnant person is a person, no matter how they fell pregnant. Whether they were a ‘good girl’ or a ‘bad’ one, a pregnant person has dominion over their body. If it’s acceptable for one it must be acceptable for all. We do not ask a cancer patient if they ‘deserve’ chemotherapy. How a person fell pregnant is similarly irrelevant.
New Zealand has a proud history of quietly leading the world. New Zealand women, in 1893, were the first in the modern world to legally vote. We were the 13th country, in 2013, to legalise same-sex marriage. We risked breaking ties with allies to become nuclear-free. It’s within that proud context that the way we treat abortion becomes not just backward, but embarrassing.
A person in New Zealand who requires the procedure must state the pregnancy will, essentially, pose a serious risk to their mental health. Two doctors must sign off on this. New Zealanders who wish to terminate their pregnancies must lie to do so. This is despicable in 2018.
When I fell pregnant at age 19 I scrambled to look up whether abortion was legal in this country. Despite finishing high school, being an ardent young feminist, and being in my first year of uni, I had no idea.
And I won’t tell you if I fell pregnant within a monogamous relationship, or from a one night stand. Because I don’t need to qualify my choice that way. I don’t need to justify myself.
Searching the internet only left me with more questions, and thinking back to health classes had me drawing a blank. And that’s because New Zealanders hesitate to talk about awkward issues. NZ politicians don’t like icky topics. They don’t like to make people uncomfortable. But that is a feeble excuse. We are falling behind on this issue, and that is unlike us.
When I terminated that pregnancy I was scared and emotional. But I’ve never regretted it once. It was a brave decision. It’s time NZ politicians make a similarly brave one.Support Villainesse