However! In the Good News pile, we have the fact that Stormont has voted against outlawing non-NHS abortion in Northern Ireland. Thrilling as it is that they've chosen not to add EVEN MORE restrictions, this doesn't change the fact that the existing restrictions make it basically impossible to access abortion in NI no matter what her reasons are. So that's a shame. Sign this petition, it'll make you feel better.
In yesterday's Times supplement, we have a wonderfully brave and honest piece by Emma Beddington in which she tells the story of her abortion; she chose to end a pregnancy because she already had two young children and didn't feel able to cope with a third. This is the most common face of abortion - not the Catastrophic Foetal Anomalies story or the Feckless Teenager Using Abortion As Contraception.
(I know I've mentioned this before, but for fuck's sake, virtually every method of contraception short of getting your tubes tied is less hassle than having an abortion. In fact, the only people "using abortion as contraception" are likely to be those whose partners won't let them use contraception, and I don't think telling them off is going to fix much, do you? And finally: contraception prevents conception. Abortion, by definition, is only possible after conception has already occurred. If you're going to talk bollocks, please talk it in actual fucking English.)
The story notes that 16% of women who have abortions in the UK are married; 51% already had children. My favourite page of the ASN 2012 Annual Report shows that at least a third of the women we've heard from are already mothers:
So sharing this kind of story, rather than saturating media coverage with the more extreme cases, is really valuable.
What's less valuable is the companion piece, which focuses entirely on women whose partners bullied them into terminating a pregnancy, as if this is remotely representative. "Enter the subject into Google and a miasma of marital pain floods the screen," writes Carol Midgley, before noting that many of the quotes she uses are pulled from CareConfidential - "a Christian pregnancy and abortion counselling service". So a totally unbiased source, then!
Being bullied or cajoled or beaten into terminating a pregnancy would be unimaginably traumatic. But the issue there isn't abortion: it's abuse.
It's not that some people don't regret having an abortion; the problem is that almost every woman whose abortion story is told in the media falls into that category. It reinforces the idea that abortion is a terrible, traumatic, sinful thing, which fucks you up for ever. Abortion just is. (And was, and always will be.) For some people, it's horrible; for others, it's a blessing. For some, not being pregnant any more is wonderful - but the shame and stigma surrounding it makes it much more painful than it needs to be. While Midgley chooses to end her article with the quote "We ended the life of our child, a product of our love which is being tested now," it is important to keep alternative experiences in mind. Like that of Emma Beddington, who notes that
"My main emotion when I think of my abortion - and I rarely do - is gratitude."...
Oh yeah, and then there's Richard Dawkins and his theoretical pig, but I just... I can't.