Why Abortion Should Be More Than Pro-Life or Pro-Choice

In life we meet a lot of different people with whom we have conversations on life issues that may have us go from surprise, to indignation, to repulsion, to a-ha and maybe have us literally feel like jumping from our seat and shouting halleluya, or laugh out loud in irony or just plain humour. But…

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In life we meet a lot of different people with whom we have conversations on life issues that may have us go from surprise, to indignation, to repulsion, to a-ha and maybe have us literally feel like jumping from our seat and shouting halleluya, or laugh out loud in irony or just plain humour. But thank God for the ability to talk and share our thoughts on issues. I was talking to someone I met recently and he brought up abortion, in his words: “I made her swear that should she get pregnant, she’d take care of it. I’ll give her money to get rid of it”. Don’t even ask me how I felt after I heard that but since that night, I haven’t been able to get the issue of abortion out of my mind.

Abortion is one of the issues in life that is highly politicized, and between what happens in politics and what happens in real life exists a battlefield mentality. An “are you with us or against us” stance takes root which birthed itself in the “pro-life and pro-choice” division. But I’ve found out that when we choose our side and arm ourselves with reasoning and information to support our choice, we relegate the women who have had abortion to the background and they lose their voice. Take the guy I mentioned for instance, entertaining the idea that he could take responsibility for the ex’s pregnancy was so out of the question for him that he went as far as videoing their conversation as evidence should she get pregnant and suddenly become emotional and refuse to abort it (he’s obviously pro-choice). Being pro-life or pro-choice is okay, we all have to choose what we believe in, but when we do that we make the issue of abortion hard to talk about. I read in the comment section of a blog where someone wrote that it isn’t wise to tell anyone that you’d had an abortion because they may use it against you when a guy comes to do a background check on you when you want to get married.

And it doesn’t stop with abortion, there are so many important issues that we can’t talk about freely. But then is it possible to find ways to shift the conflict of “for or against” to a place of conversation where it can be talked about without judgment or politics and maybe give a teenager the opportunity to ask for help on choices available before making a decision that could change her life in ways she would never imagine? When we take sides, when we stand on opposite sides of the line with the side we’ve chosen, what we do is we put abortion and the women who have had it in one box which if we can look closely is made up of different personal experiences that doesn’t neatly fit into that box. There might be the Catholic who regrets her abortion, the young woman who was raped and thought an abortion was the only way out, the born again who is grateful for hers, the wife who had to have hers because it was the only way they could save her life, there are thousand other personal experiences that are different as they are about the same issue.

Yes we have pro-life and pro-choice, but what if there could be pro-voice? What if there could be the possibility of a conversation where the focus is taken away from “us or them” to the reality of the experience. I know that there’s never a time when everyone will be on the same page, share the same lens, or know the same history, but when we shift focus to experience instead of sides we may hear things that demand that we shift our perceptions, and we may get the opportunity to practice empathy. Empathy gets created the moment we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes and this way of thinking allows us to see our differences with respect, instead of fear. When conversation is possible, maybe a guy would know not to insist on abortion because he lacks the courage to step up and be a father, and maybe young girls/women would know to take extra care in sexual relations. It can generate the empathy that we need to overcome all the ways that we try to hurt one another. Pro-voice, I think focuses the conversation on human experience and it makes support and respect possible for all.

Image via The Sheaf

Responses

  1. Seyi
    This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend. Right from when I knew him he has always said he isn’t going to get married nor have kids. The last conversation on this he said he isn’t opposed to living together (he doesn’t like living with people normally, he says they invade his personal space) and that they would have had the no marriage and kid discussion and that if she gets pregnant no problem they go about it together. But if along the line she has a mind change and wants to keep the baby that means she is going to be out of his life. Said as she has a choice so does he and when they are not aligned they should separate. I was now thinking if that’s enough reason to break up a great relationship but then to each his own.
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  2. Nosa
    As much as I am Pro-life, I am also Pro-choice. I would love to keep the baby, but at the end of the day, the choice isn’t mine, it’s hers and I will support it.

    And my pro-choice is not based on a her-body, her-life, her-choice type. it’s more of her-life, her-circumstance, her-experience, her-choice.

    If I ever knock a girl up again, I will love to have the kid, even if she doesn’t want to, let her born and give me, I love kids (the cute ones though). but it’s her choice to make. and I have to respect that.

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  3. Thalia
    Although I see where you are coming from, a ‘pro-voice’ stand will not be possible without a pro-choice stand. Abortion is still illegal in Nigeria and this will always serve as a barrier to any discourse on ‘ how people who have had abortions feel’. A teenager facing an abortion has limited options available because the law does not allow her to have options. That is the crux of the Pro-Choice argument. It is that people should have access to hospitals and counseling centers that deal with the trauma of having an abortion. So, again, while I see where you are coming from, I do not think that a ‘pro-voice’ stand will be of any use if the discourse has to be held in secret because abortion is not allowed.
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    1. Priscilla Joy
      you made a good point Thalia, this begs the question- when issues like abortion, homosexuality and the like are made illegal in a country, who does the law serve exactly? it certainly doesn’t eradicate it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Tola
      I patently disagree, Thalia. It’s time we start having this conversation openly and without judgement. Depending on which data set you’re looking at, American women undergo anywhere from 730,000 to 1.2 million abortions per year. Nigerian women undergo about one half as many abortions comparatively. Around 60% of the abortions that happen in Nigeria annually, are done by people who haven’t been medically trained. That’s enough Nigerian women that have at least acted on “choice” in secret.

      The consequences of these secret abortions significantly increases the risk for harms like infection and even death. An estimated 47,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions. Draconian anti-abortion laws don’t help the situation either. Countries with strict abortion laws end up having at least 10% more abortions per year. In Senegal, a country widely reputed as having possibly the strictest abortion laws on the planet, 38% women who are in prison are there because they either had an abortion or killed an unwanted infant directly or indirectly.

      We don’t need women to wait until women are shouting from the mountain tops before we start talking openly and earnestly about these things. Women are quietly rumbling and whispering among themselves and they go to great risks to do so. I get that there are a lot of emotions on both sides. People’s feelings are visceral for good reason and as such, contrary opinions can feel like personal attacks. We cannot keep pretending that these things don’t have real consequences. The fate of our women and girls (possibly even your own) depends on our ability to have these admittedly uncomfortable and controversial conversations and come up with solutions that will make a difference.

      Pro-choice or not, I am definitely pro-voice.

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  4. S
    This is a refreshingly different post about the issue of abortion
    About your friend who said he and his girlfriend had the discussion to rid of the pregnancy if it ever happened….. it sounds a bit off.
    Also, the part where you said about a guy insisting on abortion because he lacks the courage to be a father, i really think it’s unfair to see it that way… being a parent is not a joke and no one should be forced into that role. i think if he doesn’t want to be a dad, he can voice his opinion without necessarily insisting on an abortion

    Personally if i accidentally got pregnant, i’d never have it. not in a million years, and i wont even tell the guy i’m dating, his knowing will just cause unnecessary tension and arguments. I also believe that he doesn’t have a say in the pregnancy, all he has contributed to the pregnancy is his semen, i would be the one to deal with the pregnancy for the next nine months.

    I’m pro-choice definitely. I have been with a friend when she went to get a pregnancy terminated and it was the best decision for her, the only issue is that she unfortunately isn’t pro-voice. She should be able to say, this was my decision, i stand for it and i’m better for it.

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    1. Priscilla Joy
      Calling that discussion off is an understatement, he didn’t just make sure the decision was made before they proceeded with the relationship, he also videoed the conversation to keep as evidence that she agreed to it. I know that lack of courage isn’t the only reason a man may want abortion should there be a pregnancy, but i feel that once two consenting adults decide to have constant sexual relations then they should be ready for whatever comes out of that decision; especially if they proceed without precautionary measures, and what other opinion could their be if he doesn’t want to be a father or isn’t ready to be one than to insist on abortion? as far as i’m concerned this is one of the issues where women are the ones who get the short end of the stick, so it’s unfair for any guy who knows that he wouldn’t be willing to do right by a girl to carry on in a manner that will put her in a position where she has to beg him to take responsibility for the outcome of their irresponsibility, or where she’ll be matched to some ill-equipped clinic or quack doctor because she got pregnant.

      I understand why your friend isn’t pro-voice, pro-voice is about listening and storytelling, abortion is illegal in Nigeria and while talking about it doesn’t mean that you’ll get arrested, it also means that you’re talking about something that is largely hush hush in the society, women aren’t only afraid of the law but they’re also afraid of their friends, their relatives, their neighbors knowing their secrets, afraid that their stories would be used against them, and this i believe is actually a stronger fear than the fear of the law.

      This is why i think we all need to retrain ourselves on how we react to the things we see, know, and hear, so that people can overcome the need to hide their pain or frustrations and be free to seek help. And just like Tola rightly said “The consequences of these secret abortions significantly increases the risk for harms like infection and even death”, pro-voice won’t encourage abortion it’ll only put a face to it in a way that’ll bring about education, the opportunity for counselling and the freedom to move on. I don’t think it’s easy. It’s very hard to talk about personal and painful experiences that leaves one vulnerable and exhausted but the beauty of it is that it could also bring healing and save another’s life.

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