I’m 23 weeks pregnant: almost two-thirds of the way through. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a normal, complication-free pregnancy.
Which means that I suffered two weeks of feeling vaguely sick during every waking moment, unable to face any food apart from crackers and chopped apples. I vomited at the sight of blood for the first time in my life. I had days when exhaustion overwhelmed me and I couldn’t do anything but sleep. For the whole of the first trimester, hormones sent my emotions so far out of whack that a DIY show could reduce me to floods of tears.
I’ve given up or cut down on favourite foods and drinks that, although harmless to me could do untold damage to my baby. I had to take a vile-tasting liquid medicine for a recurring condition rather than the usual straightforward tablet, which contains an ingredient that could harm the baby.
My nipples became so tender that I had to wear a bra even in bed. By the time that had stopped, my breasts had grown large enough to make me uncomfortably self-conscious. A visit to the bank manager is now torture because my waistline has thickened so much that none of my smart clothes fit. I have to take exaggerated care whenever I lift anything that it doesn’t press against my stomach.
These are all minor niggles compared to the joy of knowing that I’m having the baby I always longed for. And when November comes and the oxytocin works its magic, none of them will bother me again. But it has had one effect on me: what patience I ever had with the argument that “if you don’t want the baby you can just put it up for adoption” has vanished forever.
Women who want an abortion don’t object to the fetus, they object to the pregnancy. If the technology existed to remove a fetus unharmed from its mother and transfer it into an artificial womb, with no more complications than an abortion presents, abortion would disappear. Putting the baby up for adoption doesn’t solve the problem: the woman is still forced to act as a life-support system for nine months.
I want this baby passionately, and I still wish it was possible for me to take a break from being pregnant every now and again. Just pop the baby into an artificial womb for a couple of hours and do my own thing without having to worry about how it might affect the baby. And if I feel like this with a wanted pregnancy, how much worse would a woman feel who became pregnant as a result of contraceptive failure and remains pregnant because she’s been denied access to abortion?
Pro-lifers often brush this question under the carpet. There’s no admission that pregnancy is a process, and one that uses up a woman’s physical and emotional resources, sometimes alarmingly. They treat pregnancy as a passive state, purely a question of not having an abortion.
That’s not how it is. I may not be consciously controlling the progress of this pregnancy, but I’m not waiting passively for my due date either. I’m not the same person, physically or emotionally, as I would have been had I not become pregnant. For me, those changes are worthwhile: a small price to pay for my baby. But to insist a woman accepts them against her will, despite being by her own admission not ready for motherhood, is neither fair nor reasonable.
Edit: When I said that artificial wombs would eliminate all need for abortion, I thought I was stating the majority pro-choice position. Turns out there’s a lot more to the question than I believed. For “disappear”, please read “be enormously reduced”.