So, Rick Santorum has dropped out of the Presidential race, leaving the marginally lesser of the two evils, Mitt Romney, to lead the Republican Party against Obama in November. Now, my entire knowledge of the American political system is based solely on everything I’ve learned watching eight series of The West Wing and a book called ‘Understanding the American Government’ which my parents brought me back from Washington once (not sure why). But, I do know enough to realise that should Romney win, there will be big changes for women everywhere.
In case you haven’t been following, I will summarise. If the Republican Party wins and Mitt Romney becomes President of the United States, he has vowed to overturn the ruling passed in 1973, stating that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy in its early stages. This puts the decision to allow abortions to be carried out down to the individual States. If the law is overturned, it is likely two thirds of the States will prohibit abortion, which will result in a rise of unwanted children and an increase in the use of illegal and dangerous back alley abortion clinics.
Understandably, it has caused uproar in the US amongst pro-choice supporters but it has also caused renewed fervour amongst pro-life groups and their intimidation on abortion clinics, doctors and pregnancy advisory services. There has also been an increase in this behaviour over here, where abortion has been legal since 1967, with Marie Stopes clinics amongst those being targeted by protesters across the country. Thankfully the protests haven’t quite reached the levels of terrorisation seen over the pond but it’s only a matter of time and, if the US government is supporting pro-life campaigns, they’re likely to get worse.
Currently in seven, soon to be eight, States in the US, the law requires the unspeakably abhorrent practice of making a woman listen to the heartbeat of the foetus she wishes to abort, go home and wait 24 hours to consider her decision, before the procedure can be completed. Some even require the patient to view the ultrasound image.
This is for EVERYONE, regardless of whether it’s a one night stand gone wrong, a desperately wanted child with a life limiting birth defect or even if the birth would place the mother’s life in danger, not to mention cases of conception through rape and incest. It’s a disgusting attempt, by law-makers sitting thousands of miles away in sound proofed offices with plush carpeting, to influence an already vulnerable woman into changing her mind by personifying her foetus.
No one should ever underestimate the emotions involved in making that decision. An abortion is an incredibly sad and traumatic event, but no-one has the right to manipulate or judge it in any way. I have never been pregnant and I’ve never had a scare, but I have supported friends through it, and it’s horrible and heartbreaking and distressing.
In the past few months, five of my close friends have given birth to beautiful, healthy babies and I love seeing them, but I also love giving them back at the end of the day. At 33 I should most probably be thinking about settling down and having one myself – I do know that I want a family one day but I also know that I’m not ready yet, not even close. Nevertheless, I don’t think that means I should be celibate as pro-life groups believe, however I don’t sleep with people I don’t have feelings for regardless of whether there’s a future or not. And if I do find myself pregnant before I’m ready, whatever decision I make will be MY choice and no one else’s.
In the meantime, let’s all hope Obama wins again.
Lucy is a PR lady, peanut butter aficionado and marmite lover. She’s a big fan of Jilly Cooper (sorry, Luce – I still haven’t finished Riders) and recently came second in her work’s big bake off. You find follow Lucy on Twitter right here.