The topic of abortion is one that seems to have been discussed a lot more in recent months. With the soon to be inauguration of president elect Donald Trump; who made his stance on abortion abundantly clear during his presidential campaign. Along with a potential change to Ohio state law which prevents abortion taking place after 20 weeks, regardless if the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape; abortion is dominating headlines the world over.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on abortion. You have people in the pro-life camp and others staunchly in the pro-choice camp, all certain their beliefs are correct. All have their reasons for believing so.
It’s an emotive subject for sure. One that many find impossible to debate and perhaps impossible to understand. I truly believe you cannot fully appreciate the magnitude of an abortion unless you’ve been through one yourself.
This week the subject of abortion cropped up for a slightly different reason. It wasn’t just because some bloke in Ohio (again) vetoed a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks (yes really, despite women often not knowing they’re pregnant until they’ve passed the 6 week mark). It was because of a woman called Lena Dunham.
Lena Dunham is an American actress who has often resumed the role of unofficial spokesperson for the pro-choice cause. Never one to shy away from controversy she is unapologetic when it comes to her views. Until this week that is, when she made what she has described as a “distasteful joke”.
During an episode of her weekly podcast, Ms Dunham discussed a recent visit to Texas Planned Parenthood; a reproductive health care provider for women. She commended the bravery of women who have undergone abortions. Words I’m sure were meant with good intent. I applauded her for using her high profile to raise awareness of a sensitive subject. Until she muttered the following, immortal words.
She concluded by saying: ‘Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.’
Um, what? You wish you’d had an abortion?
Of course, those 5 words she publicly declared at the end of her podcast ignited a raft of condemnation. So much so, after a short spell of silence Lena issued an impassioned apology on Instagram, informing her almost 3 million followers that she had made a distasteful joke and that her words were spoken from a sort of “delusional girl” persona she often inhabits.
Delusional indeed Ms Dunham, because I fail to understand how someone who has never had an abortion, someone who can never appreciate the horrendous experience an abortion entails, would ever wish to have the procedure themselves.
Making the decision to end a pregnancy will single handily be one of the hardest decisions a woman will have to make. That I am sure of.
I’ve spoken; albeit briefly, in the past regarding my own decision to have an abortion. It’s a decision I don’t regret, but that doesn’t negate just how horrific the experience of a termination can be. Or rather, it was. I’d happily start my life over without the memory of abortion. At no point throughout my abortion experience was I happy to be receiving a termination.
Of course I was relieved. Relieved that I resided in a country where I was able to take control of my own destiny without fear of criminal proceedings brought against me. Relieved that at no point did I encounter prejudice.
It’s personal, an incredibly personal choice, a choice I am so pleased many women in the world have. My heart bleeds for those women who do not have autonomy over their own bodies and are made to feel like criminals because they wish to end a pregnancy. To me it is as abhorrent as it is tragic. And I only wish that when my time on this planet is up, I leave behind a world that supports women to make the right decision for them regarding their bodies. No matter the country they reside in.
I’m encouraged by the fact a high profile celebrity like Lena Dunham uses her various platforms to speak out against the stigmatisation of abortion. I applaud her for raising awareness and doing what she can to ensure ALL women will receive a safe abortion. However, I absolutely cannot condone making a ‘distasteful joke’ whilst doing so. No matter her rationale.