I'm the middle of the final edit for my midwifery novel.
One of the main themes in this book is termination of pregnancy.
I remember when I first came across the concept. It was through a pro-life religious group that came to do a talk at my school. We had an informal follow up session with them at the after-school club I went to and they told us about women who were desperately sad for the rest of their lives because they had opted for an abortion. Most of these women were portrayed as young and in need of help.
Initially I remember being very taken by what they said and thought I'd never choose an abortion, for my mental wellbeing and because it was the right ethical choice.
I thought if I ever got pregnant unintentionally, I’d probably opt for the baby to be adopted. I was thirteen.
Then in books and magazines, I started to come across stories about women who made the choice and seemed to be well adjusted to say the least. Some were happy that they lived in a country where they could control this aspect of reproduction and felt this meant equality. Some were reassured that their body could get pregnant.
I found that women who had abortions weren’t a ‘type’ and that their decisions were woven into complex patchwork quilt life stories that made perfect sense. Contraception failed, they were in abusive relationships or felt they had to have sex to keep their family together. Or sometimes they were overcome by a hormonal response to sex that we all have. No-one's perfect.
The character considering abortion in my novel is kind, funny and wise beyond her years. As a midwife I knew many women like this who had mave this choice.
While writing my novel I was very aware I should never gloss over the fact that abortion is the destruction of a potential child. The more I wrote the more I came across pro-life arguments that were actually quite sound.
I think listening to the gravest concerns of people who are 'pro-life' is important (as long as everyone is being respectful. Hard conversations should always take place, or we risk splitting into factions. And if we're open enough to listen to those we disagree with, we might learn something).
It will never be a black and white choice. But for me, the shades of grey belong to the woman in question. She is the only person who will have to live with the full consequences.
Once you can see it from her point of view, you understand. You can change almost every decision you make in life: your job, partner, friends, politics, nationality, where you live. But being a parent comes with a particular gravity.
Once you have a baby you will always be a parent. Even if you give your baby up for adoption throughout the rest of your life you will always think about them. Most women I know who opted for a termination, whether they're happy or sad about it, will work out how old their child would have been as the years roll by. How could anyone but the woman in question make a choice of this magnitude?
These situations are not straightforward and come with conflicting compassions.
And I think this is why I chose to write about it. It's time to get the issue out minus any judgement attached, just curiosity and empathy.
What’s your view? Are there any situations where it shouldn’t be legal for a woman to access abortion?
Important point here - I promise there are lots of cheerful bits of the book too!!
I really appreciate you reading this. Take care, Ellie.
P.S. If you're wanting to find out when my midwifery novel 'New Walk' will be published, remember to subscribe to Midwife Diaries. Subscribers will be the first to find out the release date, which will be sometime in the Autumn 2018 🙂