Banter in the Garden
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Tea and Strumpets
When I was 13, my father told me that if I got pregnant, not to bother coming home. To be honest, 20 years, a career, and many fights with him later, if I got pregnant now, and wasn’t with the father, I would approach talking to my Dad with some trepidation.
So, it’s probably quite lucky I wasn’t sexually active at 14. Because if Judith Collins and her ilk had their way, I’d have had nowhere to turn. I wouldn’t have been able to access a counsellor, without fearing they’d talk to my family, ending any relationship I might have been able to forge with my parents. (My mother would probably have been more supportive, but I still wouldn’t have told her.) Likely, I would have ended up in a dangerous situation, with a backroom abortion, hiding it from everyone I knew, for fear someone would tell my family. Without support, without counselling, without proper medical attention. So, frankly, I read that story, and think, ‘there but the grace of God’.
And let’s face it. I’m lucky it never happened, and I am privileged that one conversation in a car, though something I’ve remembered for the rest of my life, was the extent of it. Because this isn’t about the health and well-being of young girls. It’s about control, plain and simple. (Incidentally, that quote that Bill English has about Panadol? Unless it has significantly changed since I was at High School, is bullshit.) Changing this law wouldn’t change my life one iota. But forcing a pregnancy on a 15 year old girl because her parents are anti-choice nutbags? Would.
Aside from anything else, the thing that most annoys me is that THIS ISN’T A FUCKING STORY. It’s bullshit journalism. It’s fucking awful journalism, and while I hesitate to give it more legs, it deserves to be called out. One woman, discovered her daughter had had an abortion, and instead of talking to her, and dealing with it as a family, she went to a newspaper. The newspaper then decided that the Bob McCroskies of this world don’t get enough coverage and column inches, decided to make it a story two weeks in a row. So they went to a minister, but conveniently forgot to mention that said minister has actually nothing to do with this, that her portfolios DON’T FUCKING COVER THIS ISSUE. Then, get a quote from a catholic, on the record as anti-choice, minister for good measure. Don’t look at the actual numbers: “Statistics New Zealand figures show that 3950 11- to 19-year-olds had induced abortions in 2009. Of those, 79 were aged between 11 and 14, ETA: representing 0.45% of all abortions that year.” But you can’t look at the actual numbers, because it would show that this REALLY ISN’T A FUCKING ISSUE. So use that 3950 number, because that’s a big, scary number.
But hey, props to Paul Hutchison, the one person (including the journalist) who actually knows something about this issue for giving a sensible quote.
Backbench National MP Paul Hutchison, a former National Women’s Hospital obstetrics and gynaecology consultant, said debate on reproductive health was essential. “That should come before this issue. We have to tread lightly, doing everything possible to have the parents involved. But having worked in places like National Women’s, where I saw women who had been beaten by their families because of an unknown pregnancy, that’s why the law is there.”
Maybe there is some hope.