A very different post to that of my usual blog entries, but this morning watching day time TV for a change I came across a debate that really affected me. The debate about the laws on abortion. I started to listen about the legal time limit on abortion was debated.
The law was originally passed in 1967, and the current legal time limit is 24 weeks gestation. I absolutely agreed with the lady suggesting that the date be bought forward, given that babies who are born prematurely at this same gestation now have much higher survival rates, given advances in medical research and technology. Since losing Harry, I have had the absolute priveldge of meeting many mothers of premature babies, and have heard their stories of their fight for survival and their journeys in life in their toddler years and beyond. I have found it amazing to hear how the wonders of modern medicine can basically save the lives of those teeny, tiny babies - so precious, so vunerable and so special. I was frankly shocked to hear the lady on the show saying that these babies are basically parasites of the mother and that a time limit shouldn't come into it, as the mother has the right to decide.
I am absolutely on the side that abortion should be the choice of the mother. I understand that sometimes accidents happen, and a mother should never be forced to be pregnant against her will, especially in the case of an abusive relationship, rape, etc. That being said I watched the Panorama show this evening, following on from the debate I watched earlier today, and I learnt that 1 in 3 women will have had an abortion at some stage in her life. Last year over 200,000 women chose to terminate a pregnancy. That is quite a high number considering about 700,000 babies are born each year.
While I am in support of abortion being something that women can access easily to enable them to have a control over their lives, I do think that more should be done to ensure that an unwanted pregnancy doesn't happen in the first place. Whatever happened to contraception and responsibilty in your sex life? I was truly horrified to hear the teenagers of Croydon discuss abortion so flippantly, as though it was as common as going to MacDonalds... they talked of their options as abortion being the only alternative to becoming single parent, at no point was contraception discussed as I expect it was never something that came into their heads at the point of "action". Last year, a third of abortions were repeat abortions so that just shows you that the horrific act of a termination is not enough to make these people take responsibility for their own sexual health or parental duties.
Ultimately though, a decision to terminate should be made as soon as you discover you are pregnant. Don't let the baby grow inside of you for months while you debate their future, time is truly of the essence. If you discover you are pregnant at 6-8 weeks then an appointment with a doctor can result in a termination about 2 weeks later. Therefore, I cannot understand how the legal timeframe is at 24 weeks.
I fully appreciate that a termination may need to happen to a completely planned and wanted pregnancy for medical reasons but there are so many exceptions to the abortion laws if the life of the baby is compromised, so taking medical reasons and complications out of the equation and speaking only about the "choice" issues, I really think that the 12 week limit is the most fair to the baby. Sometimes, something might occur where late discovery of pregnancy happens or circumstances change, and a longer time frame might be required so maybe, for now, a 20 week limit is a long enough time frame. I feel it should be more pressing for mothers to test for pregnancy and to make a decision, without letting it carry on until the baby is viable outside the womb to terminate.
Today I discussed this issue on my FaceBook page and learnt the very sad story of a friend of mine, who had to terminate her pregnancy due to several very sad complications with her little girl, at 16 weeks. She actually had to give birth to her baby and got to keep her blanket and take footprints of her little girl and was treated with great dignity and support. It is great to know, that in these very sad circumstances that support is there, but I do see these circumstances as something very different to those women who abort so late, because this pregnancy does suit their lifestyle. My heart goes out to all the mothers who have to abort their wanted pregnancies for medical reasons, and I truly understand the quandry that you find yourselves in, especially after having to make the devastating decision to withdraw treatment for Harry out of the love in our hearts for our baby, not wanting to cause him any more suffering or pain or trauma. That is surely the same thought process as those having to terminate on medical grounds.
I just think about my scans of William, and Harry, and our jelly-baby, and how seeing them move each time, they aren't just foetuses, they are real babies, they have life in them. How sad after 12 weeks when they can open and close their fingers, make sucking movements with their mouths and have fingerprints forming on their fingertips, that someone can decide to end their lives before they've even begun, or had the chance to begin. I feel for all my dear friends who are struggling to, or have struggled to, conceive and who desperately want to become parents to share their love with their own baby, and that so many women are flippantly aborting the lives of babies that could go on to become healthy, happy children.
It is sad that in today's world "responsibility" is rare. "I'll just go and get an abortion" was a line I have taken from tonight's show and has stuck in my head. I absolutely feel that the option should never be taken away from a woman, as you never know when that decision might be one you have to make. I would also never judge someone who had to make that very hard decision. But I do think that the responsibilty of that decision should be made so that it is done in fairness to the unborn child, not left until the baby is fully formed and made so that these women who have four, five, six abortions in their lives are adequately educated about safe sex instead of using this procedure as a form of contraception.