The choices we make about the choices we make
Words by Michelle Roylance
A few weeks ago, the LifeChoice club at Adelaide Uni was placed in the spotlight for being one of the more controversial clubs that has been Union affiliated, while the Women’s Collective and Pro-Choice Club has been denied.
This is what the union website states to advertise the club:
“…an Adelaide University Union Club which aims to promote the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, through reasonable and informed discussion on the issues of abortion and euthanasia in Australian society.”
As a woman, I have no problem with this. What I do have a problem with, is the union not providing a platform for those who voice differing opinions.
When we have an issue in society, be it a crime, or new legislation, or even your research paper due in week 6, ordinarily we explore all the arguments; we educate ourselves in order to provide scope and intelligent discussion.
When the union only gives voice to one side of the argument, it suggests that they endorse only one opinion. This is harmful to students, specifically women and their beliefs, not to mention contradictive to the purpose of any educative institute . We are being encouraged to limit ourselves, and those who are validly in favour of giving women a choice are only hearing one thing: That they’re ‘murderers’.
When the Union says that there is ‘no need’ for the Women’s Collective or Pro-Choice Club, it sends the message that they believe that there is no sexism at uni, no oppression of women in any sense, no need for women to take self-defence classes, or go to therapy. No need for them to be cautious walking home, no need to advocate against gender pay gaps or domestic violence. Because these are just fantasies that we women create in our heads. We have no need for a support group, a social group, an advocative group. Why should we gather and listen to each other’s stories? Why do we need a voice?
Abortion is not a light subject. No woman or couple makes the decision to terminate a fetus sporadically. They deliberate, they discuss, they weigh, and then decide what the correct path is for them. The circumstances of conception, age, finances, lifestyle, and stability cannot and must not be ignored.
I am aware that the media can glorify the idea of pregnancy, with lavish bridal showers and the ‘pregnancy glow’. But for some women it is not an enjoyable experience; their ankles swell, their gums bleed, they experience extreme morning sickness, headaches, back pains, bleeding, poor sleeping habits, acne and blisters, and that’s just the physical element, let’s also bring in depression and anxiety, and a heightened sense of vulnerability. Let’s now add the costs of medical bills, vitamins and pills, creams and gels and maternity clothes. Let’s add how this is an ongoing commitment with frequent hospital visits and eventual maternity leave. This is before the child is even born.
Are Pro-Life groups going to support pregnant women on all levels, right up until she enters labor? Are they then going to ensure that the child is given the opportunities in life it deserves? If a pregnant woman decides to give her child up for adoption when it is born, are Pro-Life groups going to ensure that that child is treated right? Keep in mind that the number of children entering child protection services in Australia is increasing ‘steadily’ every year, with 42 per 1,000 in 2015/2016. That same year, 45,714 children were reportedly victims of abuse. I ask LifeChoice to consider this next time they tell a woman it’s not okay to terminate her pregnancy… I ask them, is it okay for the child to grow up in a system where they have the potential to be abused? What are they currently doing for the thousands of Australian children who are already subject to that abuse, who are already feeling the consequences of being in a home that doesn’t want them? You argue that every child terminated has the potential to be the next Isaac Newton, or be the person to cure cancer, I argue that they also have the potential to be the next Gabriel Fernandez, tortured to death at the age of 8.
I would like to address my fellow women who are future and existing members of the LifeChoice club. I respect you and admire your ability to trust your own mind and beliefs. However, in turn I request the same level of respect from you! I ask that you do not bring down your fellow women just because their thinking does not align with yours! You do not know these women. You do not know their circumstances.. Even if you were privy to these details let me remind you that you are not these women. You do not think for them. You do not speak for them. You do not act for them. You do not provide for them. You have NO right to say what is best for them. Only they can do that for themselves.
You are not without though. You have the have the opportunity and the privilege to be there for these women. You can listen to their story. You can catch their tears when they cry. You can hold their hand when they feel alone. You can support them because you are a woman and you are faced with the same choice, and just because your decisions are different, doesn’t mean that either of them are wrong.