The loss of women’s voices in the abortion debate

The loss of women’s voices in the abortion debate

Around the world the subject of women’s right to make major decisions around childbirth and gain access to information and services regarding contraception and termination of pregnancy has been currently topical. The abortion debate is certainly a contested space within and between religious, political, economic, social, legal and health systems everywhere. The dogma varies between these stakeholders, especially if they hold a strong pro-choice or pro-life bias, but each ultimately seeks to control women’s access to reproductive health and childbirth services.[1]

Furthermore, it’s widely known and confirmed by research that positions of power within such hierarchies are heavily male dominated, with few women ever reaching the upper echelons within their chosen field.[2] This situation contributes to the exclusion or under-representation of women in discussion, strategic planning and decision making in relation to reproductive health and childbirth matters. It also speaks volumes about the restrictive creed underlying the subject and could easily be viewed as misogynistic as the current imposed models and legislations deny women their fundamental right to choice and simplified access to contraception and termination of pregnancy services.[3]

When we talk about pregnancy and childbirth, people mostly presume that the child is planned and wanted and that any variation on this assumption is relating to only a very small number of cases. Yet, as the following statistical information highlights, the reality is that even with the availability of contraception, there are unplanned pregnancies:

  • Worldwide, it’s estimated that half of all pregnancies are unplanned
  • Approximately one-third to a half of Australian women experience an unplanned pregnancy in their lifetime
  • Up to a third of Australian and New Zealand women will undergo a termination of pregnancy – and notably, fifty percent of these women were using contraception at the time of conception.[4]

It’s no surprise then that women want to know their options and to feel empowered to make their own decisions should they find themselves faced with an unplanned pregnancy, especially if it is also an unwanted pregnancy.

This article is not railing against men and neither is it pro-life or pro-choice in the abortion debate. Rather, it is pointing out the inequality in this area of women’s lives and is an invitation to consider what the contributing factors might be for this imbalance to occur and remain entrenched. What is the deep-seated consciousness at play here where women worldwide find themselves in this position of having little or no say when it comes to rights relating to their bodies? After all, there is not the same degree of control and concern taken politically, economically, religiously or socially in the fact that there are more older women becoming homeless than ever before,[5] or that women are not fully informed of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy[6] (or at any other time). Something is obviously not right here!

In our society women are generally pressured to be nurturers and caretakers, housekeepers and co-income earners one minute, and sex goddesses and career striving businesswomen the next. The creation and maintenance of personal space is usually overridden in favour of busyness and keeping up with women’s own and others’ expectations of them.

"Women are not who they should be. This is because they have become what they thought they had to be whilst denying who they truly are."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 543

Women are objectified in so many ways with the focus on their functionality and their roles. It’s never about the woman herself and her right to her own body, and to live and express who she feels to be.

The structural limitations are massive for women and the overwhelm and disempowerment women feel within these systems are indescribable and hold women small and dependent, unable to unwrap themselves from the outer oppression that seems to have its eternal grip on the female body. However, we cannot stop at the structural and oppressing societal frames we are living in, and that are controlling us as for example through the abortion debate; we have to widen our perspective and understand that there are much bigger restrictions within the general control over and the hyper-sexualisation of our bodies we as women have subscribed to and through this are feeding an abusive system.

So, the question to ask is: what can we do as women? How can we truly free ourselves from the eternal dictatorship of the body? Yes, we can fight against the endless male-dominated institutions that have taken the right and voice over the female body, but haven’t we done this for eons? And what have we achieved?

Isn’t the true ‘fight’ about where women’s powerlessness and loss of voice begins?

Could it be that we submitted to playing a game from the beginning where we are set up to lose and not gain any firm ground as the whole game is conspired to not honour and value women’s true power? Isn’t the idea that we have to conquer back our body from a male dominated system already our sell out and downfall?

There is no question about massive structural inequalities and oppressing forces that make it all look impossible to overcome. However, in the face of the forever dead-end political fight that the women’s and feminist movements have fought for far too long, isn’t it worth changing our perspective – turning around and looking at what truly constitutes a woman’s power? Furthermore, what about also considering how women themselves contribute to undermining their very own power through their daily choices based on images, ideals and beliefs of how to be and live as women?

Aren’t women trying to meet their very own ideals and expectations without understanding that their greatest power is to live who they naturally are within themselves? By focussing on the fight and our independence from an outer oppression, we have lost our connection to our essence along the way. Subsequently, we are constantly maintaining the path of subordination as we feed the very ideals and beliefs we are so desperately wanting to overcome. Women have lost touch/connection with their true values and with this are providing the space to be used and abused by the very same ideals and beliefs they so desperately identify with, and at the same time are fighting against them in the areas where they are controlling and harming.

Is this where women’s powerlessness and loss of voice begins? Do we forfeit sovereignty over our bodies not when the state or religion or society ‘take’ it with law, dogma and expectation, but from the moment we moved away from the integrity of our own body and being as women? Is there a woman alive who has not abandoned her Sacredness in attempting to meet the pressures of life as a female?

Without any sense of inner connection to our qualities, we are adrift; we not only allow ourselves to be controlled and dominated by law and expectation in relation to the abortion debate, we actually allow it to continue through our blindness to how we have lost our way in the first place. We may be living smart, but our lives lack the wisdom and understanding that emanates from true self-connection, and the corrupting agendas of power, greed, competition and irresponsibility between men and women have flourished and become entrenched.

We exchange our bodily integrity for the partner, sexual liberation, being a mother, having a career, social recognition or whatever comes along: we treasure those images more than the integrity of our very own bodies. We reduce ourselves to a lesser state of being, we diminish our value to fit into our images, we accept less from our partners for the sake of having one, we strive for motherhood to fulfil ourselves and feel complete as a woman and so forth. The essentialism we then apply to confirm us in our womanly form is what in truth disconnects us because, before we submit to all those roles we are already everything – we are already complete as the sacred woman each of us is. Yet in society today, all that we learn and strive for in life in order to feel womanly is only taking us further away from what we always hold inside.

"What comes first, the misery and the disenchantment or the choice to deny that you are Divine and then the world-weariness? For every misery there is a denial of the love one truly is, a denial of a love that cannot be erased, only shunned."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume 2, ed I, p 338

No desire to be loved by a partner, to bathe in the unconditional love offered through the mothering of a child or the desire for recognition and acceptance by family, colleagues and friends will ever bring us the exquisite level of love we can hold within ourselves in our very own bodies when integrity is lived first. It is ageless, timeless and connected to an understanding of life that transcends the current diminished reality of what has been created in its place.

By no means am I suggesting that there is a quick and easy ‘fix’ to this dilemma. To reclaim our Sacredness and live our true power requires a commitment to our bodily integrity first and foremost, before any picture can take hold of us.

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Sacredness and the responsibility of women’s bodies

The sacredness of a woman’s body, the responsibility of this and what it means in everyday life.

In the space provided by themselves, women have the opportunity to feel what the true purpose of being a woman is – in all areas of their lives. They can start to live free of the images that on the one hand define them, and on the other hand oppress them. Women have to free themselves first and foremost of the pictures, ideals and beliefs that underlie their self-expectations and perceptions of their situation – all of which imprison them within themselves. Subscribing to living this way then plays right into the hands of an oppressive system that has created the structures that control the very same bodies women have abandoned in the first place. It’s a big scenario to grasp but when we start to comprehend the magnitude of what is going on, it really is a world changer.

The abortion debate will continue around the world as vested interests continue to lobby for a say. However, this need not be in the confrontational, exclusionary realm that it currently exists in. When women are prepared to lead the way through re-establishing connection to the integrity and sacredness of their bodies, genuine freedom begins and the slow unravelling of the binds we have been caught in when we brush aside our inner selves, begins. What then becomes clearer as time goes by is that the need to dominate and control women and their lives – especially through areas such as childbirth, fertility and access to contraception and abortion services – is actually a by-product of an overarching supremacy consciousness outplayed through women’s disconnection with themselves. This separation from self then leaves the door wide open for vested personal and institutional interests to take control.

The choice is ours: we can continue to maintain the status quo or we can return to living from our essence and enjoy all that is offered through living in such a harmonious, self-empowering way.

"A revolution is not needed nor required, just the slow reclaiming of each individual. One by one, we can choose to live from the inner-heart and slowly, but very surely, each gathered one who is living by the true impulses of their inner-heart will begin to make the real difference that will energetically re-align all things to their Divine natural order. This is how it will all occur."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p 180

References:

  • [1]

    Berer, M., Abortion Law and policy Around the World: In Search of Decriminalizarion. Health and Human Rights Journal, 2017. 19(1): p. 13-27.

  • [2]

    Pew Research Centre. The Data on Women Leaders. Social and Demographic Trends 2018 [cited 2018 03/11/2018]; Available from: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/fact-sheet/the-data-on-women-leaders/.

  • [3]

    Paterson, H. Misogyny in Reproductive Health. O&G Magazine 2018 [cited 2018 23/09/2018]; 19, No 4, Summer 2017:[Available from: https://www.ogmagazine.org.au/19/4-19/misogyny-reproductive-health/.

  • [4]

    Melville, C. and K. Black. World Contraception Day: LARC in Focus. O&G Magazine 2018 [cited 2018 23/09/2018]; Vol. 20 No 3 Spring 2018:[Available from: https://www.ogmagazine.org.au/20/3-20/world-contraception-day-larc-in-focus/.

  • [5]

    Australian Human Rights Commission. Risk of Homelessness in Older Women. 2017 [cited 2018 28/09/2018]; Available from: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/age-discrimination/projects/risk-homelessness-older-women.

  • [6]

    Henderson, J. FASD Awareness Day: Alcohol and Pregnancy Information must be Rigorous and Regulated. 2018 [cited 2018 28/09/2018]; Available from: http://fare.org.au/fasd-awareness-day-alcohol-pregnancy-information-must-be-rigorous-and-regulated/.

Filed under

EmpowermentSacrednessAbortionPregnancyGender equality

  • By Helen Giles, Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, MMH (Family Therapy), Post Grad Cert Family Therapy & Counselling, M. EPA.

    I love that life is amazing with every relationship offering constant drops of pure gold, whether that be in my work as a perinatal counsellor or through friends, family and others I meet in everyday life.