Well I learned something new today, I learned that it is important to tell one’s doctor that one has had an abortion. Just in case. Wow! I’m trying to imagine being in a situation where I might have to tell a virtual stranger something intimate about my life, knowing there is a risk that person will condemn my actions. To be honest, I’m struggling a bit. I just can’t imagine being so vulnerable, that I might have to endure the prejudices of someone I rely on for medical care.
Being a bit of an arrogant prick probably doesn’t help me imagine that. Also, I think that being a 38 year old single man, if I hadn’t got up to some naughtiness and suffered some bleakness, my doctor would probably be concerned that I was a shut-in. I also have a job, medical insurance and a car, so if my doctor did presume to raise an eyebrow out of turn, he would immediately become my former doctor.
And today I realise how thoroughly grateful I should be, to have that level of freedom and choice. I am grateful, that through nothing but good fortune, I am not reliant on the good opinion of a medical professional. And today I am for the first time aware, that many vulnerable women, my fellow citizens, do not share that freedom.
A woman who experiences a crisis pregnancy, has to plot a very careful and circumscribed path to a resolution. A path strewn with vicious ideologues, intent on imposing their theology on all and sundry. And now I know, that advice I would have assumed to be helpful, might now be considered less than ideal. Thankfully I have never had to advise a distraught women on her options regarding a crisis pregnancy, but after today, my first question would be, do you trust your GP?
In this climate of virulent condemnation, created by a cabal of toxically self-satisfied anti-choice activists, vulnerable women are reduced to subterfuge, to nods and winks with those who are trying to support them and they are confined, in too many cases, to silence. Today we are reminded that this is no longer a satisfactory route for women who experience crisis pregnancies. Today we learned that discretion is no longer an option. Today we learned that if the men who run this country are too cowed or too in awe of their own ideas, to provide abortion services in this State, then they should at least find the grace and backbones to support women accessing services abroad and also protect them from any consequent medical unprofessionalism.
And today I am reminded to be grateful that organisations like the Irish Family Planning Association exist. Try to imagine what it would be like for women in this country without the IFPA. Now imagine the glee being felt by some who are imagining that. Then imagine that lot being in charge of your womb.