When governments forget that humans are valuable because they are made in God’s image, the alternative criteria always create terrible inequities and injustices. In the light of pro-abortion legislation currently before the NSW parliament, we offer this testimony as evidence of the pattern.
Abortion: it’s a topic that divides. Women either shout or whisper about it, and men, no matter what they may think, tend towards deathly silence. But with the proposed NSW legislation it’s time for us to start talking.
If you haven’t heard much about this legislation, it does a bit more than merely decriminalise abortion. It allows for a ‘pregnant person’ to seek a termination without needing any specified reason until 22 weeks. If agreed on by two medical practitioners, it would allow an abortion over 22 weeks. There’s no requirement for the practitioners to provide a reason for the termination, merely that ‘in all the circumstances’ they think it should be performed, even though past 24 weeks the foetus has a high chance of viability outside the womb.
The legislation never states that the ‘pregnant person’ must give informed consent. I imagine the framers of the legislation took this on trust. Sadly, I can’t.
For me, there are a number of striking features for in the legislation, but none more so than that it never states that the ‘pregnant person’ must give informed consent to the termination. I imagine the framers of the legislation took this on trust.
Sadly, however, I can’t.
You see, I’ve felt pressured by medical practitioners at an early testing facility to consider the abortion of my child; a child I wanted. I’ll never forget how diminished I felt. I was alone, and the medical counsellor was telling me what I should do; more testing and fast so that I could get it done as soon as possible.
I had to say ‘no’ to the expert. That isn’t an easy thing to do.
Fortunately, I had a husband and a family and even a GP I knew I could call on if I needed back up. But what if I didn’t have all that?
When I talk about the vulnerability of that moment I am startled by how many women come to me and say, ‘that happened to me’ and for some the pressure was far greater and more constant.
One friend told me her story. Pregnant at seventeen, her then boyfriend took her to the clinic. When asked by the clinician why she wanted termination she answered. ‘I don’t know.’ The clinician asked if she wanted to go to university. She answered, ‘Yes.’
The clinician filled in my friend’s answer form and passed her through to the anaesthetist and the doctor who performed the abortion. From the moment the form was completed to the moment she was in recovery, only thirty minutes had lapsed. She went on to suffer depression, turned to self-harm, was diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’ and became suicidal. When admitted to hospital she told the psychiatrist she was there because; ‘she had killed her baby.’
The clinician filled in my friend’s answer form and passed her through to the anaesthetist … To this day, my friend believes she never gave informed consent.
To this day, my friend believes she never gave informed consent.
What I find, is that a woman’s right to choose is often made by someone else, not the woman. For many it is not so much a ‘woman’s right to choose’, but a ‘woman’s battle to keep.’
Pregnancy makes every woman feel their vulnerability. For women who want to keep their baby against medical pressure or social and cultural expectations, family or a partner; this legislation only makes them more vulnerable, and allows the power-play to shift over the line past 22 weeks up until the time of birth.
I’ve never forgotten the pressure to abort. There isn’t a day that my friend doesn’t regret the loss of her tiny daughter. For vulnerable women who want to be mothers, that choice will only become harder if this legislation is passed.
We would encourage readers who come to this issue with past burdens, grief and guilt to also read Claire Smith’s post on the grace and forgiveness Jesus Christ offers to everyone—including those who have had abortions.