Pro-Choice: A Brief Overview of My Thoughts on the Rights of Pregnant People

3056237316d3584721fa2c47d203d417Abortion is a hot topic right now, thanks to the USian political discussions that are going on. I would hope by now that my readers will know I consider myself pro-choice, and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what that means to me, and my reasons for feeling the way I feel. So I thought I’d write them out, and hopefully open up a discussion about the rights of pregnant people to bodily autonomy. I should preface this with context: I have an eleven-year-old son who I chose to have, who I birthed myself, who is the light of my life, and who I have never regretted having. Because, you know, I chose to.

Point the First: A lot of pro-choice campaigners like to reassure the world that pro-choice doesn’t mean pro-abortion. I don’t like this assertion. It implies that pro-choice people need to be anti-abortion, or at least ‘not like’ abortion, but they do need to support pregnant people’s right to terminate their pregnancies. Well I’m going to stand up and say: I AM PRO-ABORTION. That doesn’t mean I think every pregnant person should terminate their pregnancy, or that I am a baby-killer who enjoys sactificing children upon a Satanic altar (actually, I’ll have you know, I’m Catholic!). It does mean that I think abortion is a wonderful, useful and necessary thing for many people. It means that I think abortion can be a fabulous and healing tool for many people who would otherwise be miserable, severely mentally or physically unwell, or even dead. It means I like the concept of abortion and I believe it’s a great thing for those who choose it.

Point the Second: I don’t believe in any limits placed upon termination of pregnancy. Yes, this means that I believe that pregnant people should be able to abort a pregnancy for any reason, or for no reason other than they simply don’t want to be pregnant any more. Yes, this also means I don’t believe in ‘time limits’ i.e. maximum gestational age of the foetus at which the abortion is ‘allowed’. Yes, this means I believe that abortion should be legal at any point in a pregnancy, right up to the point that the foetus is actually born and becomes a baby.

[Corollary to Point the Second: I do not believe that this should be considered offensive to those who have suffered miscarriage, stillbirth or post-birth death of a baby. There is a difference between losing something from one’s life and choosing to remove something from one’s life. There is a difference between a wanted child and an unwanted child, and if you believe I’m too stupid to recognise that then that’s a problem with you, not me.]

Point the Third: I believe all abortion, everywhere in the world, should be free, legal and accessible. This means that nobody should ever have to pay in order to receive abortion-related treatment and care, nobody should be penalised legally for terminating a pregnancy for any reason or at any gestational age, and nobody should be prevented from accessing abortion by, for example, the refusal of local doctors to perform the procedure, which often forces pregnant people to travel hundreds of miles in order to receive the treatment they need. This ties into ‘free’; travel can be expensive, and all hospitals with doctors capable of performing the procedure should a) offer it and b) fire doctors who refuse to perform it.

Point the Fourth: I do not believe in the “right to life” of unborn foetuses. Quite aside from the argument that there is no fixed point at which a foetus becomes a person except for the measurable point at which it is born, I also do not believe, even if foetuses were people, that pregnant people should be obliged to use their bodies in order to keep another person alive. If someone I knew (or didn’t know, for that matter) required a kidney in order to stay alive, it would not be my obligation to provide it, and nobody would say that it should be illegal for me to not give up my kidney. Similarly, no pregnant person is required to become a vessel in which a foetus is kept alive until the point that it is born.

Point the Fifth: I believe that if you say “I don’t believe abortion should be legal except in cases of rape”, then you are severely ignorant and you are not, as you like to say you are, “pro-life”. If you are truly against abortion because you believe a foetus is a person, then even a foetus who is the product of rape is a person. What you are saying is that you believe it is acceptable to kill some people, but not others, depending on the circumstances surrounding their conception.

Point the Sixth: If you say, “How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?” then, quite frankly, you’re an idiot. For one thing, if my mother had aborted me, I wouldn’t be here to care one way or the other. For another, I love my mother. Why would I want to see her forced into doing something that she absolutely did not want to do, to give up her body to keep another alive, to take part in something that could kill her, or cause her severe physical and/or mental ill-health? “How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?” Well, if I were somehow able to know about it, I’d be glad for her because she did the right thing for herself, and I love my mother. Don’t you love yours?

So there are six points which broadly outline my thoughts. I have a lot of other fragmented ideas on the subject, but these are all I feel like writing about at the moment, and I think I’ve covered all of the most important things that were on my mind. I hope that you’ve either learned something, had your feelings reinforced, or been forced to confront your views in a way you haven’t done before. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go back to sacrificing those children…

5 Things I Have Learned Since Bringing Home a Puppy

14525210_1162982767102167_2129286753256304352_oLast Monday, the 3rd of October, we brought home what might be the world’s tiniest puppy, who was born on the 8th of August and who we have named Ludo. A Jack Russell and Chihuahua cross, he’s a bundle of joy, laughter, terror and destruction, and we already love him as a part of our family. We chose him for his sweet temperament and gentle affectionate nature, and we have not been disappointed with our choice. He is simply beautiful, inside and out. I did a huge amount of research and reading before we brought him into our family – however, there are still a few things I didn’t quite realise, so here is a list of five things I’ve learned about puppies within the first week of owning being owned by one.

1. Puppies spend a lot of time sleeping.

I should have realised this, as I have an eleven-year-old human son who was, naturally, a baby at one point, and baby humans sleep an awful lot, too. Trying to keep Ludo awake before bedtime so that he is actually tired when the time comes is very, very difficult. He is currently on the carpet nuzzled against my slipper (in which resides my foot!) snoozing away because I wouldn’t let him up on my lap (because I knew he would just fall asleep). This, of course, means that at about 1-2am he wakes up raring to go, which isn’t ideal for the human grown-ups who sleep in the same room as he does! Like with a human baby, I should have realised not to expect unbroken sleep for some time.

2. Housetraining a puppy is a long and tedious process.

Yes, the books I read should have prepared me for this, but I just pooh-poohed (hah!) the idea that it would take a long time. My puppy wasn’t stupid, and would catch on faster than usual. My puppy would learn almost immediately not to go on the carpets. My puppy… you get the idea. Alas, my puppy is, indeed, much like pretty much every puppy ever born. He has no idea that he’s meant to go outside. The ‘training pads’ you put on the floor for the puppy to toilet on were about as much use as a chocolate teapot – he thought of them as chew toys – so we’ve resorted to the age-old “grab the puppy when he starts to toilet and run with him at arm’s length until you get outside” school of housetraining, and taking him out every hour just in case. It isn’t going well for us, but we’ll get there. But if you’re sitting there still thinking, “But my puppy won’t be like that” then I’m afraid you’re an idiot!

3. Puppies don’t instinctively know what a lead is for.

Don’t worry, we’re not taking Ludo for walks just yet! He hasn’t had his second lot of initial vaccinations yet, so it’ll be a while until he can scamper around beside me as we go about our day. But when I take him out hourly for a hopeful toilet visit (see above) I’ve been putting the lead on him to stop him scarpering. The first time, I thought he would just follow me out to the garden if I gave the lead a gentle tug. I was wrong. He sat steadfastly still, looking at me like I’d gone even madder than he already believed me to be. When I tugged, he tugged back. Eventually I carried him, lead trailing behind us, and then when I put him down outside I just held the lead to stop him running off, before carrying him inside again. I know, he is spoiled. He also gets carried around outdoors in a bag, so I can’t deny that. Eventually I’ll train him to use it, but I think it’s going to take a while, (see: housetraining).

4. Puppies will want to play with the household cats. The household cats will not have any of it.

Ludo believes Eevee, our eighteen-month-old ‘kittencat’ to be his friend. He shows her his best “Wanna play?” stance, and pounces at her, only to be swatted about the head with her paw. He chases her, and she leaps over the puppy gate to get away from him, at which point he stands growling and barking (or rather, attempting, but not achieving, rather pathetic growls and barks) at the gate. Whenever he approaches Steve, our skinny nine-year-old, he simply gets hissed and spat at, and occasionally batted away, before Steve stalks off in a huff. Sheridan, our fat five-year-old, is terrified of him and just won’t go near him. Ludo managed to get to about a metre away from Sheridan, took one more tiny step and Sheridan ran away like I’ve never seen him run before. He’s spent the whole week sleeping on the stairs out of Ludo’s reach. Ludo seems to genuinely want to make friends with the three of them, but I suspect it’s going to take a lot longer than seven days for them to warm up to him.

5. In the beginning at least, puppies will consume your every waking minute.

From the moment they wake you at six in the morning whining, piddle on your bedsheets while you hurriedly dress, and watch you take your morning piss, to the time at which you take them outside for yet another failed toilet visit and then try to sing them to sleep while they cry at you because you won’t let them sleep in your bed with you, puppies are bloody hard work, and not for the faint of heart. They require constant supervision and attention, whether that is to stop them getting into trouble, prevent the chewing of things they shouldn’t be gnawing on (I had to remove my Lightning cable from Ludo’s mouth today, and got sulked at for quite some time), watch out for sudden elimination which will trigger the mad dash for the back door, or simply because they are doing something super adorable and you just can’t help but stare at them for half-an-hour like they are some kind of deity – this puppy is a helpless infant creature who requires your attention and care at all times.

So there you have it – the five most important lessons I have learned during my first week of puppy ownership. None of these things makes me love Ludo any less – in fact, learning them has taught me a lot of things, not least the virtue of patience and positive reinforcement with regards to behavioural training – I suppose both of these things were values I had to learn when my son was born, and now I’m just brushing up on my skills, but I feel like this is different. Perhaps because, unlike my son, Ludo is never going to fully understand what it is I am trying to communicate with him, at least not the nuance which other humans understand, and he will never be able to fully communicate with me what it is he needs. So I am learning as much as I can, how to read his behaviour to find out what he wants, and to keep mine consistent so he knows what it is I want. It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m loving every minute of it – even the ones that involve piddle on my bedsheets!

PS. If you’re eager for more photographs and/or updates on Ludo, he has a Facebook page, Ludo the Wonder Dog, and an Instagram account at @ludothewonderdog!