DISCLAIMER: SENSITIVE SUBJECT
If you’re new around here, then you probably don’t know that I am pro-choice. If you aren’t new here, then you’ve probably read a few of my posts (like this one and this one) that outline why I am pro-choice. I’ll summarize why I’m pro-choice in one easy sentence: It is my fundamental right to choose what happens to my body. Before you pro-lifers get on my case about “ItS NoT JuSt YoUr BoDy WhEn YoU’rE PrEgNaNt,” I’m going to say shut your mouth because it is not capable of consenting, which means that responsibility falls onto me, you know, since I’m growing it. Like when a kid can’t consent to anything, which is why parents/legal guardians consent on their behalf. Same concept.
As you’ve read from the title, my friend got an abortion. She was 5 weeks along and chemically terminated her pregnancy yesterday. While the reason for this post is to reflect on me being pro-choice, I also want to use it to educate you people out there because lets face it, this is not common knowledge and maybe it should be.
We went to a Womens Health Clinic to get a little information about the options my friend has. In Canada, there are two procedures. You have your chemical abortion and your surgical abortion. Chemical abortions can only be conducted between week 1 and 7 of pregnancy. Surgical abortions are conducted between week 7 and 20. Abortions after week 20 are illegal in Canada, however the United States will conduct an abortion up until week 26. The chemical abortion is incredibly new to Canada, and by new I mean about one year. Chemical abortion consists of a pill that you take that essentially secretes a hormone that will shed your entire uterine lining (from my understanding of what the clinic nurse told us). The chemical (or rather, pill), while it has been used in the US for many years, has only been FDA approved in Canada about last year. The surgical abortion on the other hand, is much more invasive and is probably what comes to mind when you think of an abortion. They insert a long metal rod into your uterus and essentially vacuum out the fetus. Both methods require a consultation in an appropriate designated clinic that specializes in abortions prior to the actual procedure. Usually you need a referral which you can get from a clinic that medically assesses you as pregnant.
As I’ve mentioned, my friend was confirmed pregnant at approximately 5 weeks. She knew in her mind, without a doubt, that she was going to get an abortion.
My experience is obviously not the same as hers, I mean for one, I’m not the one that is pregnant and in charge of making a life changing decision. But as an outsider, I definitely have reflected on the entire process and the attitude my friend held while going through this process. And while I stand by the fact that I am pro-choice, this particular experience stunned me and got me to reflect on the implications of being pro-choice.
My friend referred to the 5 week embryo as a tumor because she didn’t want to refer to it as a potential life source. She didn’t refer to her experience as a pregnancy, but rather, a “medical emergency.” Whether this was because she genuinely didn’t view it that way or she was in denial is up for interpretation. She held a view that was very, to put it frankly, ignorant. She viewed the whole experience as first, “needing to happen” because she “only ever learns the hard way,” and then secondly as “a sign from the universe.” I’m not going to say these are wrong because I’m not about to rip a part someone’s beliefs or coping mechanisms, but I view this as quite ignorant.
In this sense, people may view me as traditional, they may view me as conservative, or they may view me as apathetic. But the way I see it is (and this is largely up to debate), regardless of how far along it is, this embryo, collection of cells, fetus, baby, tumor, whatever the hell you want to call it, has a potential for life. And while it may not be life yet, it has the potential to be it and that should not be taken lightly. Do not misunderstand me and think that I hold this standard for people who were not in control of this outcome (sexual assault victims). I hold this standard for my friend. Who actively chose not to use protection because she didn’t like the feel of it. Who actively refuses to take contraceptives because she “doesn’t want to.” This is someone who has actively consented to the consequences that follow unprotected sex. And while I am strongly pro-choice, this termination of a potential life source was unecessary and could have been prevented. This experience makes me sick to my stomach and I cannot possibly imagine what this can do to a person who actually experiences it. But I know my friend, and this wont change a thing. This will happen again and frankly, I’m not sure I can support that.