I was flat on my face wearing nothing but knickers, the smell of peppermint pervading my senses. A small desktop fan clack-clack-clacked nearby, and I could hear the faraway hum of traffic.
“Where do you work?”
I’d already explained that I am a writer, as the affable massage therapist pressed oil into my pores, kneading my back like a rebellious lump of dough.
This was going to be one of those talking massages.
She was keen for conversation to break the monotony of her working day. Me? I would’ve been happy for a massage-induced coma. Never mind, I thought. If we’re going to talk, let’s at least make it a worthwhile conversation.
So I cut to the chase and told her what I do.
“I write for an organisation that helps people to fall in love with the unborn,” I said.
She was pushing the muscles along the length of my spine in long, firm strokes, scooping off at my shoulders with just the right pressure before starting once more. I was groaning on the inside, eyes rolling back in my head, sinking blissfully into the fluffy towels. The tension of family life takes its toll.
“Ooh, that’s great!” She exclaimed. “I just can’t understand it, why people would have an abortion. I mean, if they make the decision to have unprotected sex, then they’ve already made their choice right there.”
I try to nod my head, which doesn’t work on a massage table, let me spare you the awkwardness of the same mistake right now. So I “ah-huh”ed floor-wards before she continued.
“It’s just not right to take life like that. Except for rape.”
Yes, people. These are the kinds of conversations I engage in while having a ‘relaxing’ massage part-way through a holiday in Australia’s tropical north. You’ve gotta laugh.
But her comment got me thinking.
I wonder how many people who identify themselves as “pro-choice” are really, truly that. I think that most pro-choicers will have a line in the sand on their convictions, an end point to their belief of women’s rights and body autonomy. Otherwise, where does it end? And this is the problem with being pro-choice.
- Many pro-choice people will agree that gender selection abortions are unethical and shouldn’t be lawful in Australia
- Many pro-choice people will agree that abortion shouldn’t be available for pregnancies past a certain gestation.
- Many pro-choice people will agree that taking the lives of babies within the womb because of disabilities like Down syndrome, cleft palate and cerebral palsy amounts to discrimination at best.
- Many pro-choice people will agree that having an abortion because the mother has been under pressure from a partner, parent or other influencer is unacceptable.
Here’s the thing:
Most people who identify as pro-choice will actually be thus with conditions attached. You will be hard pressed to find someone who is so staunchly pro-choice that they believe it is a woman’s right to take the life of her child for any reason, right up to the full term of her pregnancy.
An Emily’s Voice-Commissioned poll in 2016 shows 60%-90% of Queenslanders are opposed to abortions where the unborn baby is suspected of having a “mild disability”, for career, financial, family size and gender reasons.
To the question, “Would you say you are generally in favour or opposed to abortion?” 51% of Sunshine Coast respondents said yes, and only 46% of Bundaberg respondents.
The results in Queensland are consistent with similar polls for Emily’s Voice conducted in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Hunter Valley of NSW.
And we have to ask, why?
If choice is as popular as the media suggests, and people really do believe that choice trumps pre-born life, why do proponents attach strings to their convictions. Could it be that life, with its inherent value, cannot be denied, even amongst those who so desperately attempt to do just that?
Life is life.
Fullstop. There is life and there is death.
It really is that black and white.
The murky grey in-between is an agitation that will never sit well with us, not if we truly listen to the drumming of our heart.
*The YouGov Galaxy poll for Emily’s Voice in Queensland involved 400 respondents, aged 16-49, living in the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg Local Government Areas.