This post deals with reproductive coercion, stillbirth and family abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
In July 2017, a beautiful 45-year-old woman, almost six months pregnant with a perfect baby boy, a wonderful partner, and a beautiful proud baby-bump, lies on an operating table.
This woman is confused, scared and full of terror. She has taken prescribed pills to calm herself, but she nevertheless twitches uncontrollably.
On that operating table, in a procedure usually reserved only for exceptional circumstances, she would feel a small prick enter her swollen moving belly. She would return the next day, still with a bump, only much lower. Nothing will prepare her for what’s coming next.
Watch: A tribute to the babies we’ve lost. Post continues below.
She would lie on the floor in a room, surrounded by other women, some crying, some sobbing, some shivering, and some so shocked and numb that they could not move at all. There, she would be induced into labour and give birth to a perfect, but lifeless, tiny baby boy. She would cry, scream and howl like an animal. The staff, wide-eyed with fear would shuffle her out into a taxi and back to her hotel.
From this, she could never recover. This would create a deep hole in her soul that would never heal.
The right to choose goes both ways.
The discussion around reproductive rights has been almost laser-focused on the right of a woman to have an abortion.
This makes absolute, perfect sense. For literal millennia, women were denied the right to control their own reproduction.
Winning and maintaining the right to have abortions was one of the most significant victories for women in the twentieth century. So much so that according to the United Nations “Women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights” .
But what of a scenario where a woman wants to have her baby? Where she is looking forward to having her baby? Yet the people in her life, for whatever reason, don’t want that baby to exist. While the right to an abortion now seems straightforward, what has been missing from the discussion is the opposing scenario.