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August 1, 2008

C for church. C for choice.

A for abortion.
Cocaine is illegal in umpteen nations of the world but the coca plant grows in the wild in other South America. Much like marijuana (Cannabis sativa subspecies, indica), which is regularly burnt off in big cities but grows wildly (it’s weed!) in the picturesque, small hillstation Manali. And why just Manali, I was pleasantly surprised (er, shocked that is) to find it growing in happy bushels in a very respectable colony in Ludhiana. Meanwhile Amsterdam has cafes selling ‘joints’. As you change nations and boundaries, you realise that facets taken for granted in one country/place are alien to another. Even illegal. And then some facets don’t change.

Like abortion. Or the presumption that brave women have babies and bitches kill theirs. Or sluts.

For one, whether it’s India where abortions are legal and dont have religious connotations attached or whether it’s Australia where it’s almost semi-illegal and would displease the Church (for Catholics), there is no sympathy/ empathy for a girl who chooses not to have a baby.

If a woman is pregnant and lord forbid, she has a miscarriage or loses the baby, her support system will be around her. It was a mother who lost her baby. She is allowed to mourn the loss. But if a girl chooses to terminate the pregnancy, the reactions change. No one considers that she could perhaps mourn the loss too. After all, she chose to kill her baby, didn’t she? She is the bitch who could “lie back and enjoy being fucked” (said by someone close when debating the abortion-issue) but did not have the moral strength to give birth to the product of her carnal sins.

She is the woman who for her selfish reasons did not have the baby. She should either not have had sex or should have ensured she did not get pregnant. What if she does get pregnant despite all precautions? What if she is raped?

“Unborn babies have finger nails,” said the girl holding a banner with the picture of a foetus still in the womb. It’s a scene from the movie Juno (2007). Despite the theme of teenage pregnancy, the movie is funny. Juno is funny. Was the joke on the audience though?

On instant recall, of the three Hindi (popularly known as Bollywood) movies that touch upon the subject of pre-marriage pregnancy, the formula has been more or less the same.

In 1969, there was Aradhana (literally means prayer, Sharmila Tagore, Rajesh Khanna), where the heroine gets pregnant with her lover’s baby and he dies in a plane crash. The result? She is ostracised, thrown out of her house. BUT she sacrifices her life, chooses to become a housemaid and have the baby. The audience empathised and the movie was a major hit.

In 2000, we had Kya Kehna (what’s there to say, not literal), where actress Preity Zinta’s character gets pregnant and the boyfriend backs out. She too chooses to have the baby even though her father stops talking to her and all that. The movie was lauded for taking a step towards the coming-of-age of the Indian screen woman. She does not cry, she roars! She was seen as a positive step for single mothers and the movie ends with the character’s best friend marrying her. La di dah!

Circa 2005, there was Salaam Namaste (Preity Zinta, Saif Ali) shot entirely in Australia. It was supposedly avant-garde in talking about live-in relationships and pre-marital pregnancy. The girl gets pregnant, the boy gets cold feet about having the baby, the girl bravely goes ahead with the pregnancy, boys realises mistake and comes back and they live happily ever after.

In the 30 years or so between the three movies, the message has been the same. If you are not married and you get pregnant, a brave, morally couragious woman WILL have the baby. Even if she becomes a house maid, even if her family ostracises her and even if she has to do it alone. A woman is always a mother. All portrayals of women who dont want children is negative. Whether it’s Eva Longoria’s character in Desperate Housewives or Priyanka Chopra’s in Aitraaz (a 2004, Hindi remake of Fatal Attraction).

Brave has baby, bitch kills baby. Or doesn’t want it.

Why is the emphasis always on s/he who is not born? If the pregnant woman is 16, why should she not think of herself? Or even if she is 26 and does not have the means to give that unborn child all s/he deserves – good food, a proper home, an education, adequate time, a father perhaps – is it more prudent to make something out of herself first or to have a baby in penury? Or even NOT have the baby because she is not ready?
I DON’T know the answers. I want to know.

24 comments:

DewdropDream said...

Someone once sent me grisly pictures of actual abortions in the hope that I'd change my mind about being pro-choice. Long story short, I didn't. Those pictures were awful to be sure, but I was quite irked by the fact that everyone is going on and on about how it is a sin to kill the baby, it's akin to murder, how the woman must be heartless.

In a majority of the cases of unwanted pregnancies, the men simply bolt. How come no one questions their motives? They're equally responsible for the result of their actions, how come they are not held accountable for abandoning the girl and the unborn child?

I know for a fact that even doctors tend to judge any gir; who announces that she does not wish to carry on with a pregancy. And I swaer to god I could bitchslap everyone who thinks it's their boundedn duty to dump their attitude on someone who doesn't need it when they're already having a tough time of it. The choice of having an abortion itself is a very painful and deep one, it scars one for life. It needn't be made tougher. Technically, no one has the power to detemine whether another creature lives or not, but why mark abortion out this way? How come no says the same thing about all the genocide happening? About female infanticide? The freedom to choose ought to be there. Merely for the reason that if the baby cannot be provided for as it deserves, then why make it suffer for no fault of its own? And why would any woman want to live with a daily reminder of her trauma if the child happened to be born because she was raped?

Abortion cannot be though wrong or illegal. The world doesn't exist in black and white and that is what everyone needs to wake up to.

Excuse the long comment please, this debate pushes my buttons.

DewdropDream said...

excuse typos too, can't think syntactically right when am in a fit like this :)

Maxine said...

Womens college,1997,we had this awareness day that showed a movie on abortion shouting that its a sin.Ive heard girls sayin how cruel it is and that the movie changed their life,their thoughts etc and many joined just for the sake.Spoon feeding confuses.Do they promote free thinking anywhere?

Abortion is a personal choice of the parties involved,depending on their situations.I'm still confused about one thing...what if the father of the unborn child is willing to take care and yet the pregnant one wishes to abort?Is she liable to giving birth and giving the child to him? Or raise the child just because?Raising a child is definitely not a pleasure filled journey.Sacrifice,stress,panic,anger guilt etc-all of which has to be kept at ease by one feeling which is love.And we know love cant be forced.They say motherhood comes naturally to all.Is it really so?Even if the mother herself is a 16 yr old child or a 25 year old who certainly wasnt dreaming of getting raped or a 30 year old forced to have a baby by her own husband?And why I dont see fatherhood coming naturally to many?Especially the unmarried ones who leave their semen marks with pride?

I love children.My own and others around me.It wasnt so many years ago.Age or how we treat life and viceversa is also a criteria,i suppose.

(Marijuana??Cocaine??)We have an illegal plant.God given green declared illegal by man.haha.And the plants didnt even pop up after having sex.

Asheesh said...

I live in the US and I am still amazed at how wmotioal people get about this topic. To me it is a very personal decision to be made by a woman and no one else except for close family (if solicited) should have a say in the matter.

This is one of those topics where there is no clear black & white, it is mostly grey.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Without arguing the many 'what ifs' and trying to have a different answer for each scenario that presents itself, my simplistic answer would be...woman's body, woman's decision, that's final.

Now the reasonings behind the decision are what comes under scrutiny. If it's a woman who gets rid of a girl because she wants a boy...she's a monster. If it's a victim of rape... understandable. If she's someone who will face grave danger to her own life if she carries through... poor thing, having to choose between her life and that of her baby. Like I said, it the thought or reasoning behind the act that needs to come under the microscope.

Goofy Mumma said...

Big fan of your posts, just never commented so far. For one its a very personal decision to be taken by the woman herself and partner, if involved. No one has the right to judge her. Going by popular demand, if she does give birth, will these anti-abortion lobbyists, then come a and support the baby, if the mother is unable to do so? Also I believe mistakes do happen ,and people do have a right to correct it if they can, better not have a baby than make it live a miserable life.

On the way.... said...

I fail to understand why can't a woman be selfish?? Forget any rational reason like being 16, not having money etc, rightly said she becomes a bitch if she exercises her choice!
Also,it is ultimately the girl who has to bear the brunt of harsh realities of bringing up a child alone,so it may look a very empowering decision on one hand to bring up the child alone but i really doubt if it is worth it.
In the case where the partner is willing to take up the responsibility, it is in no way to profess that a girl (due to her bilogical superiority to bear the child) can take the decision to bear or abort the child at her will alone!!
Enjoyed reading, provided some food for thought from a wider perspective :)

Steve said...

You know something I am tired of this debate, I am just sick and tired of it. A lot of these conservative pro-lifers say that they're for freedom yet they go around dictating what a woman can do with her uterus, it really makes no sense at all. Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

I mean, these people go around talking about the sanctity of life and yet they choose to go and kill doctors if they perform abortions, is that pro-life?

Moreover the sanctity of life argument raises several logical problems, like; every time someone loses a few sperms or an egg that could be fertilized is s/he committing an act of murder? Are they actually suggesting that a woman who has more than one period is a serial killer? After all, almost every sperm and egg has the potential to be a child.

Where does this end? If a fetus's life is sacred then isn't all human life so? How can they then advocate something like the death penalty (most of these conservative pro-lifers are also pro capital punishment)? It's a rather slippery slope isn't it?

Carl Sagan had a rather interesting take on this issue;
"
...conjures up the specter of predominantly male, predominantly affluent legislators telling poor women they must bear and raise alone children they cannot afford to bring up; forcing teenagers to bear children they are not emotionally prepared to deal with; saying to women who wish for a career that they must give up their dreams, stay home, and bring up babies; and, worst of all, condemning victims of rape and incest to carry and nurture the offspring of their assailants. Legislative prohibitions on abortion arouse the suspicion that their real intent is to control the independence and sexuality of women...
"

I think that abortion should be legal, if a mother doesn't want to have a child then she must have a pretty good reason for it. Moreover, it's her body and I don't think that anyone has any right at all to tell her what she can or cannot do with her body. This may sound cold amoral or monstrous to these people, but I think that they should shut up and go take a good look at the misery they inflict upon others through their moral hypocrisy. After all, reality isn't decided by vote.

PS: I am sorry about my hiatus.

Mystique said...

so true. It's actually a VERY personal choice, I don't think the state can dictate it.
What if you're a single mother without a job?
etc etc.
But no....they don't see the mother's point of view....just the baby's.
actually, it depends on the reason. If it's something really unjust like female foeticide, abortion is in no way justified.

ps.....does the same go for prenatal sex determination ?

Eve* aka JB said...

Will take Mystique's question first: Prenatal sex determination with the idea of removing the foetus if it is a female is Wrong. That's the thought and reasoning behind making it illegal in India. And that's perhaps where it gets interesting that abortion is not illegal in India.

WRT personal choice, am in complete agreement that it should be a woman's choice.

However, as Maxine asked: what if the man wanted the baby? Is saying "I am not ready" enough? Most cases we hear of are where the man runs from the responsibility and the woman wants the baby. BUT what about when the baby is just not ready for the baby?

My PROBLEM with abortion that people -- both men and women -- have begun looking at it as a method of conception. Mistakes happen but somehow I have the feeling that couples of even single people -- guys and gals -- aren't doing enough to PREVENT the pregnancy.

I am also not too sure about abortion when it comes to a girl/woman who is 24 months pregnant. In our acquaintance, we have had a woman deliver a baby at 22 months. Small thing when the child was born, today she is a year old... So is a 24 week old foetus just a bunch of cells or does it have consciousness? And why was she waiting for that long in the first place?

Eve* aka JB said...

Steve --. no apologies needed for not bei ooughtsng around! the blog does not mark attendance. :) Your time, thoughts and words are always appreciated.

Goofy Mumma--- thanks for participating. comments are always welcome and someone 'declaring' themselves as reading this blog is even more welcome! :) Hope to see more of you around.

On the way --> good to see you. :)

silbil said...

hee hee eve did u mean to say 24 month pregnant? i think it was a typo...

Maxine makes a very very pertinent point... love cannot be forced. and yes, for the kind of sacrifice it involves, during and AFTER pregnancy (it is at least a 10 year FULL time job or even more)it is disgusting to think how people won't let the woman decide for herself.
the pro lifers (only concerned about the life of the fetus NEVER the woman...oh she is a human being , is it...we all thought she is just a vessel!)work on the presumption that maternal love is an innate thing...like natural...bullshit!!! that just triviliases the women who choose to be mothers too...
you know...it is a piddly little job, why you killing the child means that the one who is having a baby also doing a piddly little job.
dumb fucks...pro lifers need to disappear.
and i want all men/dumb women to be out of my uterus NOW!

Maxine said...

Well..been thinking a lot about this and...yea,i agree people have no idea that abortion means killing a life, or they refuse to take it that seriously to do the necessary prevention beforehand.Am not talking about rape cases etc.But the normal boy meets girl thing.
:( confused a bit.Hello tiny dot in the womb,is your name soul?At 22 weeks a baby is almost fully formed...,and will be like taking out and killing compared to the formless tiny dot.Hmm.At 24 months,well..it must be the pre-motherhood depression or something.I say the woman should be given courage and support to take care of the baby other than entertaining the abortion thoughts.Motherhood does come naturally ;), one just need to welcome and accept.

the mad momma said...

i like your spirit always JB - but yes - THIS is my problem. why arent people doing enouigh to prevent these unwanted pregnancies???

i understand if the father backs out and you dont have money or you;re raped or whatever. no need to be a matyr. but killing it becaues its a girl child - or because you forgot to use protection - this is serious business... you cant make a joke of it by using abortion as birth control...

the mad momma said...

linked you up babe http://thebratthebeanandbedlam.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/whats-a-good-time-for-you/

as for why the emphasis on the unborn. well someone has to speak for the underdog. the voiceless.

silbil said...

MM I agree with your point of not using abortion as a birth control method. But I kind of doubts that people in large numbers do something like that.
and an insane person who'd do that...by insane i mean REPEATEDLY and HABITUALLY careless person who'd do something like not using protection, the baby is better off not born to such parents. what else can they might be careless about, you never know.
but isn't protection NOT 100% foolproof. I know ENOUGH number of people who are saddled with with babies at the wrong time...spelling a long period of unwanted ness or even whole life of unwantedness for the child and non fulfilledness for the parent/s.
isn't that unfair.
i really don't undersrand why this is a moral issue at all.
does anyone REALLY know a person who does abortions for fun? obviously there is a REASON good enough to warrant the desire.
and i obviously not talking of assholes who kill girl children,i am talking of abortion of unwanted fetuses

DewdropDream said...

Since we're on the topic, anybody knows what are the after-effects of abortion on the health on the woman who undergoes it?

the mad momma said...

Silbil - but I know someone who underwent IVF after failing to conceive for 6 years and THEN aborted because it was a girl.

Another someone who had a fight with her husband who wasnt taking her out at midnight to eat the icecream craving she was having - she aborted the baby saying - if you cant take care of the baby before its even done, how will you do so later?

so there are some crazy kooks there who treat this as a joke.

and i am guessing that the kind of ppl who abort girl babies - perfectly healthy girl babies - will not hesitate to abort a baby who is deaf or dumb or misisng a finger. if a male heir is so important - then i am guessing they do so...

i know a doctor's wife who had three abortions, trying for a boy. had three daughters. a doctors wife!

@ dewdropdream: a late abortion can be fatal to the mother. a badly done abortion, even early in the pregnancy - can leave scar tissue in the uterus that prevents you from conceiving again.

have a friend who aborted her first baby - got knocked up in college - now she doesnt need to use birth control.. can never conceive again.

Maxine said...

:(

the mad momma said...

@ Silbil: LOL! you're right. idiots who cant be trusted with birth control certainly shouldnt be trusted with a child! but here - take a look at dipali's post. a woman who conceived thrice and aborted....

http://dipalitaneja.blogspot.com/2008/08/of-three-abortions.html

what do you say to that?

the last time may not be her fault - but the times before that? two abortions that were accidental conceptions. come on - what were they smoking when they used birth control? obviously people ARE careless because they know that if all else fails - there is ALWAYS abortion.

go-phish said...

"I DON’T know the answers. I want to know. "

that about sums it up for me. I wish...wish...wish ...wish that there WAS a clear answer. A blinking board! A defined tangible slip of paper that announced the 'right' thing to do. And not right by societies standards but for your OWN!.....rape victims having the baby? UNTHINKABLE! hasnt she been through enough???? Cant we all just lay off the moral sermon and LET PEOPLE BE?...

*sighs*

perplexed said...

It should be a personal choice and that alone. It is so unfair to raise a child without the father or without the basic comforts... and i totally agree with 'on the way'... why can't a girl be selfish??... why can't a girl just put herself before everything else? it's her life!! because whatever happens after that is her responsibility alone!!!

Sree said...

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080814/NEWS01/808140388/1001/NEWS

The 19-year-old father and 18-year-old-mother were taken into custody after police reported seeing the 4-week-old unsecured in a car's back seat with a pacifier taped in its mouth.

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