TW: one brief mention of suicide and sexual abuse. Discretion is advised.
At the beginning of the year, a new Netflix series took over the country’s TVs, laptops and phone screens. Sex Education was all anyone was talking about (along with the gripping You, of course). In it the school bad girl, Maeve, seeks an abortion after sleeping with the, inevitably popular, head boy. Whilst I have never had an abortion, and none of my closest friends have either; there’s a sense of anger that fills my body as I watched the usually outspoken Maeve nervously walk past the pro-life activists that march outside the clinic.
The ongoing debate of pro-choice and pro-life has been one that’s provoked emotions and stereotypes for hundreds of years. It ultimately argues the right for a woman to have control over her body, which has been revoked and restored, and vice versa, across several countries. Over the years, names have been called for young girls who get pregnant. Those who keep the baby are called sluts and are instantly looked down upon. They are never expected to achieve anything. To never have a real career or an education. Whereas those who opt to get an abortion are forever labelled as heartless and selfish.
For Maeve, she’s young, she’s not in love, she has no money and no parents to fall back on. It seems like the right thing to do. Meanwhile, in reality, the boys at school would be whispering her name and the girls would quickly look away when she feels their eyes on her.
The debate and social norm has led to many young girls feeling the need to have an abortion. But how exactly are those girls left feeling after society pushes them into making that choice?
Jane had an abortion when she was just 22 years old. “My boyfriend at the time was an ass. He didn’t even offer to come with me to the appointments”. Whilst Jane never regretted her choice to have an abortion, she decided not to tell anyone, which left her feeling lonely and bitter. Jane felt like she couldn’t share her experience with anyone, and once her boyfriend was out the picture, there was nothing left but anger for what she went through.
For Louise, her life spiralled out of control. “It didn’t hit me until a year later. I hated myself so much that I started taking drugs. I had to move back in with my parents. I almost lost my job because I was so depressed”.
Molly felt confident about her abortion until seconds before the procedure. “I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in my life”. A year later and Molly still feels empty. “I sometimes have panic attacks after having sex. I feel like every time I bring it up, I’m a burden and I should just be over it by now but it just won’t let me go”.
Iris had an abortion at just 15 years old. Six weeks after having unprotected sex, she called up an abortion clinic and booked her appointment. “I booked a counselling and consultation appointment. I had blood tests, an ultrasound in which they told me I was 8 weeks pregnant. They then did some assessment to check that I wasn’t being abused.” Two weeks later, Iris returned for her procedure. “The staff were very caring and conscientious, but the whole vibe was almost sinister”. Two months later and Iris still feels the guilt. “The consequences live with me everyday. I tried to kill myself a few weeks ago because it feels as if I killed my child. I wish it was different and I wish I could’ve had the baby. But that’s life”.
As the debate over abortion continues, so does the social norms which threaten the lives of so many young girls. The stigma that is laid onto young mothers through loaded speeches and angry protestors steals their deliberation. Their circumstances are thrown away like a dirty nappy. Meanwhile, it’s too late for young girls in other countries as they no longer have the freedom to think. Even the girls and women who are raped do not have the chance.
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