Hillary Clinton’s words on abortion and the right to choose mean so much for so many women

‘I wish the world was more understanding, so it doesn’t feel like a guilty secret’

On Wednesday night the ever controversial topic of abortion was raised in the Presidential debate. Reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood remain a hot topic in American politics and this election cycle is no different. Donald Trump, the notorious Republican Candidate has said that he will prosecute women who have terminations, get rid of Planned Parenthood a stance that is popular with many socially conservative Americans and the Evangelical right.

On the other end of the spectrum is Hillary Clinton, who is pro-choice and an advocate for women’s health. She said in the debate ‘I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s rights to make their own health care decisions’. This is certainly fighting talk, but it also reflects the hostile environment that the is debate surrounding abortion.

It’s crucial to talk about terminations and why they happen, rather than listening the political scaremongering from the likes of Trump who say that having an abortion is when ‘you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby’. A simple web search will tell you that this is not how any abortion happens, the vast majority of the time they are quick and safe medical procedures.

Like any medical procedure there is a potential for complications, yet the fact remains that they are one of the most common. The conversation about abortion can be a difficult one to have, however it is crucial to inform yourself about it rather than believe the political rhetoric that surrounds it. Late term abortions are particularly controversial, however sweeping statements in regards to this do not take into account the individual circumstances that lead a woman to have a late term abort.

This is why I spoke to one woman who had a termination about her experience and why choice is so important for women and their reproductive health. Her abortion was later, at four months due to health complications that resulted in hospitalisation as she was rejected by several providers who said that her health made her ineligible for their services. However, despite the delay she did eventually get a hospital appointment for a surgical abortion.

She told me: “It was really weird when it came down to it, the hammer fell with me and me alone. It did feel like a lot of responsibility at first, but those thoughts were primarily: If I go through with this I will always be someone who’s had an abortion and I’ll always have that taboo and weight to secretly carry with me. I wish the world was more understanding, so it doesn’t feel like a guilty secret.

“I’m not ashamed of it because I have no maternal instincts at the moment and I know I would have resented the child. On top of that I have incredibly poor mental health and I can’t look after myself let alone a baby.

“Now the hammer has fallen I’m very happy with my decision, I didn’t recognise myself pregnant physically or emotionally, but now I’m back to myself and so relieved I wouldn’t have it any other way. Women have to be able to choose otherwise the life of the new mother who didn’t want this and the baby’s is ruined from the start. Families should be wanted, not forced upon you otherwise it’s no family at all.”

No woman takes the choice to have an abortion lightly, it can be a hard and difficult decision to make. But the fact remains that the right to choose should be protected. Because if that is taken away then abortion will simply go underground and take place in unhygienic and dangerous conditions.

Northern Ireland is one example of a country where abortion is very difficult to get access to, as thousands of women go to England for a termination every year. For those who cannot afford the trip and procedure, the alternative option is illegally self administering their own termination, which is not only unsafe but potentially life threatening. Several women have been prosecuted for doing this, and it re-emphasises that banning abortion will not stop it happening, but put women’s lives at risk.

This is why Hillary Clinton being so strongly pro-choice and pro Planned Parenthood is important. Planned Parenthood are the main abortion provider in the US, but they also are one of the main providers of contraception and sexual health care, all of which are important for American woman.

Millions of women have abortions, it is not a new thing and will continue to happen whether the law allows it or not. However, the best way to keep these women safe is to make abortion accessible and available for those who need it. I agree with Clinton when she said that ‘I do not think that the United States government should be stepping in an making those most personal of decisions’, because a woman knows what is best for her and the government should respect that.