Friday, 23 March 2012

Once prochoice, ALWAYS prochoice

Tonight I read something that has moved me to write this post. I am absolutely fuming and I'll explain why in a bit. First, some background.

I've had a molar pregnancy (read back or google to find out what that is). I had believed myself, and wanted to be pregnant, experienced all the symptoms of a "normal" pregnancy and was devastated to find that I was not growing a baby but a pre-cancerous tumour.

For a very brief while I was quite upset at the idea of other women being pregnant with real babies and then choosing to terminate these pregnancies.

Like I say, it was a short while. Because whatever shit thing has happened to me, it has NOTHING to do with anyone else's choices. Any other women keeping or not keeping a pregnancy has no bearing on whether the baby I had planned for would be here or not. Their bodies, their choices.

The backdrop of my own personal fertility problems is the ongoing international (or is it just the US and UK?) backlash against abortion rights. It feels like every single day I read some ridiculous piece of news coming from Nadine Dorries, Personhood laws in Virginia and transvaginal probes in whatever bloody state has decided women need to be humiliated because they are pregnant and do not want to be. Or cannot be...

Yes, women will find themselves pregnant after having unprotected sex. So what? Isn't it better that a cluster of cells can be removed instead of coming into the world unwanted or into difficult circumstances? I don't know the "reasons" why most abortions take place and I don't care. But this section from this article in the Guardian today has brought me nearly to tears.

Here it is:

...the female representative of SPUC said: "The link with breast cancer is because if a woman has an abortion, particularly in her first pregnancy, changes have to take place in her breasts.

"If during that pregnancy she has an abortion … then it can leave those cells in the breasts in a kind of half-changed state and statistically, that increases her risk of developing breast cancer later on in life."


Part of the problem with my pregnancy, and this was my first pregnancy, was that the tumour produces huge levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadatrophin (HCG). This is the hormone that makes you feel sick, tired and...makes your breasts bigger. Mine got pretty bloody big, let me tell you. I had an operation to remove the tumour (more of which later) and one of the signs my health was improving was that my breasts went down. I find it more than offensive that SPUC suggests that this procedure could cause me to get breast cancer. It could have saved my life. (Should the tumour have been untreated I may have miscarried it normally but that may not have happened potentially leading to an infection and you can do the rest).

That's just my personal situation.

Let's think about the wider picture. Did you know that one in four of every pregnancies end in miscarriage?
Some of these miscarriages will be the embryo/foetus spontaneously leaving the mother's body. But for many women, the foetus' death will only be discovered at an ultrasound scan (this is what happened to me). Not only do you have the horror of learning that the baby you have believed yourself to be growing, talking to and planning for has died, you now have to do something about it. There are two routes: medical management or surgical evacuation. And whatever the situation, these women will have had pregnancy symptoms and hormones which SPUC are suggesting gives you breast cancer.

Then there are the women who will learn at some point during their pregnancy that there is something wrong with the foetus, that it would never live outside their body, or the many other reasons why women end up having terminations of pregnancy.

What would SPUC have us do?

Not every single pregnancy is viable just as not every single pregnancy is wanted. SPUC and their compatriots would do well to remember that they are talking about ALL women when they make up these lies. There are many many of us out there who have had these procedures from medical necessity AND through choice. All are equally valid and none of us will accept the blame should we develop breast cancer later on in life.