So Jeremy Hunt, our esteemed Health Secretary, would like to lower the abortion time limit to 12 weeks – half what it is currently. I see you thinking “oh, but that’s 3 months. Surely that’s plenty of time?”
Let’s think about it, shall we?
How long do you think it would take you to realise you’re pregnant, should you not be expecting it?
So you miss a period – say 4 weeks after conception occurred. You’re 100% sure you’ve been using protection. You’re having a terrible time at work, maybe an illness, maybe family troubles. So you assume, hey, it’s stress, it’ll come along soon.
Then you miss another period; now you’re worried. We’re at 7, 8 weeks (god knows we don’t all have regular cycles). So you tell yourself that you’re just being paranoid, but pop into Boots to grab a cheap pregnancy test just in case.
The test’s positive. You decide to wait a couple of days and take another one, you know, just to be sure.
That test’s positive. So you make a doctor’s appointment – how long does that usually take? A few days? A week? Then you need to get the two signatures. Then a referral.
We’re edging really fucking close to that 12 weeks now, aren’t we? And what if you’re a terrified teenager who’s trying to pretend nothing’s wrong? What if it takes you that little bit longer to work up the courage to see a doctor?
What if your doctor isn’t, shall we say, supportive? So you have to find an alternative.
And then, just for kicks, let’s imagine you bump into anti-abortion protestors outside the clinic you eventually get an appointment at. You’re having a pretty shit time already, maybe you don’t feel like arguing with them, or being shamed, or judged. So you think “oh, I’ll come back again when they’re not around.”
12 weeks doesn’t sound such a long time now, does it?
This sort of scenario scares the ever-living shit out of me. Imagine discovering you’re pregnant, knowing you don’t want to keep it, but being told “sorry, it’s already too late to make that decision.”
The fight is on. Let’s make sure we’re on the winning side. Write to your MP. Join Abortion Rights. Donate to Education For Choice. Protest. Shout. Tell the fucking world that we are not going to stand for this shit.
Kerry is co-founder of Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance.