I’m angry. Here’s why.

November 18, 2012

This is a reminder. In some countries, women die because abortion is illegal.

Even when the they’ve been told the fetus would not survive after birth. In fact, where they are so against abortion that they are even denied in circumstances when the woman’s life is at risk.

By far not the first person globally, and probably not the last, Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland of blood poisoning after her fetus died inside her body and poisoned her to death. The doctors wouldn’t remove the fetus until it’s heart stopped beating despite the fact that she was clearly miscarrying.

Constitutionally abortion is legal in Ireland, but a court ruled that abortion should be permissible if it would save a woman’s live. The two contradictory messages mean that individual doctors make individual decisions at their discretion. Savita was reportedly told that ‘This is a Catholic country’.

The result?

As the MP Clare Daly said: “An unviable foetus – the woman was having a miscarriage – was given priority over the woman’s life”

The fetus was going to die anyway. But because of the law, the doctors refused to remove the dying fetus and as a result the pregnant woman died too. A woman in the prime of her life. (Who incidentally had many more childbearing years ahead, d’ya hear that pro-lifers?)

This link will take you to a moving tribute video so you can see her face and her smile and her vibrancy. If you can make it through without crying, you’re… well, you’re not me.

And maybe in the case of Ireland, change will come as a result of the tragedy, but globally the problem persists.

I don’t care if people think that abortion is morally wrong. We can argue that one till the cows come home. (Heck some people think that divorce, tattooing and bad haircuts are morally wrong but probably agree that they should remain legal).

But I do care if people continue to argue that abortion should be illegal, including in circumstances where women’s lives are at risk or where fetuses are nonviable, that women should not be trusted to make decisions about their bodies. That they should not have access to a medical procedure which will enable them to maintain sanity, physical and mental health and a sense of autonomy in their lives.

Also, some people think that even though where abortion is legal, it should still be really hard to get one, because you know, maybe if we make it hard to get one, she won’t get one. (I’m looking at YOU, New Zealand and America.)

And if women do get one, some people think it’s ok to judge and be nasty about the women, but notably not the men who help cause the pregnancy and may even have participated and agreed in the decision to abort.

As this post points out, stop taking pregnant women out of the equation when talking about being pro-life. Doesn’t being pro-life apply to women too?

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More good links

here and here

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I’ve been agonising over this post for a good 24 hours now and I’ve decided to accept that it’s not researched or written with professional journalism skills. But I hope you’ll still enjoy it.

Recently KD gave herself a haircut. We know that AB had something to do with it.  A week or so later AB ends up with her own home-made short haircut. Not unusual for kids to do this I hear.

Interestingly, when I tell people the story, I’m often amazed at how great an offense this can be perceived as.  Sure, I was annoyed. It’s not cool that the kids helped themselves to sharp implements and did something they knew they weren’t allowed to do. But y’know, cutting their hair? Not the worst thing ever. We’re not related to Samson. Long hair can have cultural significance for many people but my family and I are not from a culture where that is the case.

Now many of you will currently have or have at some point had your own long hair, but for those of you who haven’t let me explain a few things. Long hair can hurt. Brushing it can hurt, putting it in a ponytail can hurt, taking it out of a ponytail can hurt. Especially if you have fine hair like me. Long fine hair can be really annoying, distracting, wind gets it in your eyes and it needs controlling.  If you’re like me, you end up worrying about it, if it’s sitting right, clean, etc. The end result is that it can absorb your attention and your energy. Long hair can be a pain, literally.

(Ironically, the time I loved my hair best was when it was long, but in dreadlocks. It was most manageable then. It was either up or down, with little variation between. Simple)

Some people have the kind of hair long hair that is glossy and thick and full of life, but also so incredibly well-behaved. Mine does NOT do that.  And neither does our children’s hair. When they were babies they would get little dreadlocks on the back of their heads. They end up with food, glue and glitter in it and brushing it twice daily was required just so that birds wouldn’t nest in it. (I can’t vouch for other critters.) More often than not it would turn into a fight. Me trying to get them to sit still, them trying to squirm out of the chair and just generally make themselves as slippery as possible.

And there is this trap that we can fall into as parents, where we potentially objectify our kids. Our two girls have wavy and curly hair and there is this thing that would happen to me where I would want to groom them, brush their hair and croon.. They would take on this completely objectified state and become like dolls that belong to me, for me to style the way I wanted.

The end result is that we end up teaching them that they should look good for other people’s enjoyment, that their appearance is so important that it’s worth suffering for. They also get the message that because we are in control, the decision isn’t theirs. (It is of course very appropriate that small kids are not allowed to make all their own decisions, but equally as parents I think we need to challenge ourselves to hand over decisions where and when it’s safe to do so.)

In the end I was quite proud of them for cutting their hair, especially KD. She and I had been battling everyday to keep the knots out and I had been suggesting for ages that we cut her hair. She agreed, but Dad wasn’t keen. So she took matters into her own hands literally and got rid of the problem altogether.

It’s so important that our girls learn that their bodies are theirs.

Just recently our girls have started going to play at our neighbours house, walking there and back by themselves. So I gave them some very basic safety messages. We try to explain how their bodies are their own and nobody can touch them without their permission. But I don’t think we can teach kids safety messages about how their body is their own, but not let them decide to cut their hair or not.

We can’t have it both ways. I would rather have stroppy girls any day than meekly obedient kids. If they’ve got the guts to cut their own hair then hopefully they’ll also have the guts to claim their own bodies in other ways in the future.