That’s the word bugging me right now.
Some call it murder. Others call it a procedure
I’m not here as judge, you see, nobody died and made me judge. Abortion is a thorny issue, whether intentional or not, it’s one act we may have engaged in or contemplated at one point or the other and the decision often includes the men in our lives. So my question today is – to abort or not to abort?
My first encounter with an abortion or the act and the word in itself was while in secondary school. We woke up one morning and right there was an aborted fetus in the bathroom. At that time, a good number of us students had never heard the word before not to talk of what it actually meant (our biology teacher hadn’t got to that part of the syllabus, you see.) So, there we all stood looking at an aborted fetus in the bathroom and nobody knew who dropped it.
Afterwards, at the university, I heard it so often, it became part of our vocabulary in the girls’ hostels. There was always some girl talking about going for an abortion; but there was never any talk about preventing it.
Talk about abortion was always mixed with words like Postinor, Guinness stout mixed with potash, washing blue and bleach, yeah, mundane things, abi? These and various other kinds of concoctions were stuff any reasonable human being ought to know would tear out the intestines before it even got to the fetus. Yet, a good number of girls swallowed these mixtures in desperate bids to get rid of unwanted pregnancies with many regretting it while it was already too late. I remember a family friend who lost her life over a failed abortion.
Others resorted to quacks, often student doctors, lab technicians, auxiliary nurses or plain simple uneducated and uncouth chemist shop owners.
Then now as an adult, I see friends in their forties, carrying babies and whispering to me, “This one na by chance, o. I’m on family planning; I don’t know how this big head made it through.” We’d all laugh and wag our fingers at the obstinate infant, the one who defied family planning methods and made it to fertilization.
Was there a choice for abortion here? Maybe. Are there regrets, too? Maybe, I’m not the judge. So we won’t talk about the lives wasted in this process, the mother and the fetus, depends on how you want to see this. We won’t even dwell on the pieces of human flesh often flushed down the toilets, nor the breasts that begin to spout milk in anticipation, nor the womb that still moves; confused at the disruption of the life snatched abruptly from its warm embrace. And really, is it a life? Is it human? Some say not, some say, of course, it is life, it is hope, it is boundless opportunities and it’s just been smashed… to death.
I had a wish once. A wish that I had aborted a fetus. It wasn’t mine but if it had been mine, I would have removed it without a second thought. The pregnancy was that of my of a very close member of my family. She had done a scan at five months and results showed a hydrocephalic and club footed fetus; meaning the eventual child would never sit, stand or walk and probably never see well. What’s more, the child would have a head twice its body weight, for life.
‘Remove it!’ I advised my family member. ‘Get rid of it fast!’ I was even ready to ‘sponsor’ the abortion.
But, her ‘church mind’ spoke out. ‘No’, she said. “I’ll have this one.” She was scared and she needed for me to be strong and supportive but I couldn’t. The scan result had told me all I needed to know. I went to the internet and the information was more depressing. I couldn’t even be Christian enough to say, maybe there would be a miracle here.
I didn’t see any hope for this one, not here in Nigeria.
So we waited. And lo, a child came forth, an infant with a head the size of a medium sized pineapple, her eyes were slanted, very small nose and when we turned her, her spinal cord area didn’t close, it would be open for life, I’m told. She would ever be dependent on us- to eat, bathe, poo, urinate and crawl on all fours.
For how long? I asked the doctor again.
Now tell me, would an abortion have been such a terrible thing?