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Alex Watson: Banning abortion is just yet another way to control women

US students protest in response to a leaked draft of the Supreme Court's opinion to overturn Roe v Wade (Photo: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/Shutterstock)
US students protest in response to a leaked draft of the Supreme Court's opinion to overturn Roe v Wade (Photo: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE/Shutterstock)

I’ve reached the age where the idea of pregnancy no longer causes panic.

We flew through the Four Weddings and a Funeral stage – taking turns to be brides and bridesmaids, sometimes in comically quick succession – and now, suddenly, my friends are having babies. So many babies.

And, don’t get me wrong, they’re very cute. But they’re making me feel rather old.

It doesn’t seem like 10 minutes since I was hiding out in a public toilet, still a teenager, staring unflinchingly at a plastic test and praying silently to a deity I didn’t believe in. It was a false alarm, in the end, but they don’t call it a pregnancy “scare” for nothing.

At university, we girls counselled each other through late periods and swapped notes over different methods of contraception. We were called promiscuous – or less savoury words with the same meaning – and frigid, and viciously judged on both counts. We felt deep shame when buying condoms, pregnancy tests, the morning after pill.

Close up of woman's hands holding a pregnancy test
Women have abortions at all ages, for all kinds of reasons (Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock)

We deduced it wasn’t ladylike to want to have sex just for fun, like boys our age were encouraged to. For girls, you see, sex has consequences. We’re programmed to shoulder the responsibility – and the blame.

Believe me when I say, after all that, no young woman takes the idea of pregnancy or abortion lightly.

An abortion is none of anyone else’s business

I followed the “rules” – waited until I was older, took it slow, practised safe sex. I still found myself all alone in a toilet cubicle, briefly paralysed by the choice between motherhood or abortion. I can’t imagine the added terror of knowing that a legal, safe termination wasn’t an option for me.

A pregnancy has the potential to change everything for just one person – the woman carrying it

The US Supreme Court may overturn Roe v Wade, the ruling that protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion. Given that the number of American kids living in poverty increased by 3.4 million between December 2021 and February this year, you won’t convince me lawmakers stateside are overly concerned with saving the children.

No, taking away the option of safely ending a pregnancy is just exerting control over women – their bodies and their lives – in a way men would never tolerate. The move reinforces the idea that we are vacant vessels, designed for one purpose. Or, perhaps, harlots who deserve to suffer for our sins.

I’ve officially reached the baby stage age. Many of those bouncing bundles are meticulously planned.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking my peers are no longer having abortions. But, of course, some of them are, for myriad reasons that are none of anyone else’s business.

A pregnancy has the potential to change everything for just one person – the woman carrying it. I’ll never stop defending her right, and mine, to decide the course of her own future.


Alex Watson is Head of Comment for The Press & Journal and is over being ladylike

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