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Why Robyn Lawley's abortion backlash is a dangerous new low.

Robyn Lawley last month. Via Facebook.

On Thursday, Australian supermodel Robyn Lawley gave an interview to a women’s magazine.

In that interview she talked about her unexpected pregnancy – and the fact that she had considered an abortion.

She told the magazine: “As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I had to take all options into account, because with a baby, I’ll have to majorly slow down — and I’m very career driven. That scared me….

“After I decided to keep the baby, I was so scared to tell my agency. I think that’s something a lot of women go through.”

Lawley is now 7.5 months pregnant. But in giving that interview she spoke about something that so few women do: that she considered her options before deciding to have a child.

Robyn’s frankness drew criticism, with some suggesting that she considered an abortion because she was worried that she might get stretch marks and miss out on modelling work.

Yesterday she responded to critics on her Facebook page:

…Some “news” websites are stating that my considerations for having an abortion were based solely on whether my body would bounce back or whether I would get stretch marks. Then the onslaught of people’s horrifying comments began. Some as bad as stating how terrible a mother I would make.

… If you really think that my sole consideration for whether I should bring a life into this world was based on how my body would look afterwards, then I am sorry for your lack of logical reasoning skills.

The reality is many women face a plethora of factors when considering whether to have an abortion. And my case is no different. Sure, one of the biggest ones for me related to my career, which necessarily and perhaps unfortunately relates, at least in part, to my body image. I would say that any “career oriented” woman would consider how a pregnancy effects their career. Other important considerations ranged from whether I could financially and emotionally support a child at this moment in my life, to even some broader concepts, like how over-population has detrimental effects on the environment.

…I will always be pro-choice and I believe it should ultimately be a woman’s choice. It is a very hard and personal decision to make. One where you have to take everything into account, but the option should always be there. For my part, I am excited and grateful for the amazing opportunity to be a mother and my only wish is that my baby is happy and healthy.

Lawley did what so many women around the world wished they had the opportunity to do: she weighed up her options: Is it what I want? Is it what my partner wants? Is the timing right? Is it the best thing to do to bring a baby into this situation, right now? Lawley’s answer to all of those questions was yes – but it needn’t have been.

And in being up front about that, she made herself a target.

The immediate backlash was designed to silence her. It was designed to stop a woman talking, thinking and deciding the fate of her own body.

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The notion of shaming women who have abortions is nothing new. The regular picketing of abortion clinics in Australia by pro-life campaigners is evidence of that.

But criticising women for even thinking about abortion is a new low.

It’s all well and good to wave throw about the cliché that “a baby is always a blessing” – but in many cases this just isn’t true. A woman is not always ready for a baby. A family is not always ready for a baby. Baby is not always best.

The fact that one of the most powerful women in Australia’s modelling industry felt nervous about telling her employer about her pregnancy is just another example of the discrimination that pregnant women can face – and it emphasises why women are forced to consider the economic implications of every single pregnancy.

What’s more, bullying women into proceeding with unwanted pregnancies is dangerous. The recent death of two newborns is sufficient evidence of that.

We need women to have options. Safe, legal, inexpensive options to not proceed with an unwanted pregnancy.

We need women to know that they have options. And where women don’t have those options, we need people to know that those options are vital to women’s happiness, fulfilment and success.

The only way that any of this can happen is if women are able to talk about it.

And this is never going to happen if women like Robyn Lawley continue to be shamed into silence.

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