Categories
blame women

Who’s Fault?

Icelandic geyser. Hot steam coming from a fault line. Taken by myself Sept 2016

I am reading a fascinating novella by Claire Keegan called Small Things Like These and have learned the scary fact that the Magdalen Laundries, those places where unmarried mothers were sent to have their babies which were then sent off for adoption, did not all close until 1996. In learning more I discovered they were set up by the Irish Free State in 1922 to keep promiscuous girls “safe”. This is not just an Irish/Catholic thing. I remember volunteering for a old people’s mental health hospital and they had just found the old records as to why the people had been placed in there. For one woman she had been incarcerated there when she was 16 because she was pregnant. When I volunteered there she was in her 70’s and fully institutionalised.

This got me think about how is to blame for these women being there? The nuns who mistreated them? The State for setting up the institutions? The Church? The families of these girls? The men who had slept with them? The moral compass of the time? Fear? Probably all those things. But who gets punished? The girls. The women. The babies.

Were these girls totally innocent? I’m sure some were and some weren’t. Were they promiscuous? I’m sure some where and some weren’t. Did they willingly sleep with these boys and men? I’m sure some did and some were raped. But whatever it is the girls and the women who were punished.

Velveteen Rabbi has just written a moving blog called Choice in which she looks at again how it is the women who are being punished for being pregnant with these new laws being implemented in the US. Do try and find the time to read it all. And do not think that because it has happened in the US it will not happen over here. I think it might have been one of the Tory leadership candidates who said they did not think abortion should be included in the UK’s bill of human rights.

I did a binge watch of Liar last night and I mentioned it in a previous post. [spoiler alert] Her case has been dropped because of lack of evidence, which in reality is saying that when it is “his word against hers” it will always be his word that wins through. By not prosecuting he will not have a criminal record so will be innocent. She will always know she has been raped and it will effect future relationships. She will be the one punished.

So whether is it old Christian ways of looking at the world, Magdalen laundries, State institutions, human rights charters, the laws of government in a country, Police prosecution systems, or sometimes just the way we look at people and the things we say …. “she deserved it” amongst other things …. it is always the woman who is punished, who is to blame for being pregnant, for wanting to abort her child, for wanting more to life than parenting.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It is evil when a group of people take the blame and are then punished for something that it is not solely their fault. What are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? What am I going to do about it?

I hope that by writing about it I can open a conversation. Hopefully it will be a start. But also I can change my ways of looking at other women; by what I say, how I support, what I allow in my thinking. One starfish at a time I can change my corner of the world.

Categories
Me Too truth

The Truth Will Set You Free

A view to the Llyn Peninsular taken on a day out with my daughter July 2022

I cried when I heard the result of the RoevWade outcome. How could a country that calls itself civilised take such a backward step? Not only is it saying that women cannot choose but that it is saying women are not able to choose. Then I hear our government saying that abortion doesn’t need to be on The Bill of Rights! Again a major step backwards.

There is that big argument that the child that is aborted could grow up to change the world. Well what if they don’t? What if the child that does not get aborted is brought up in a household on a low income with many different partners in the mother’s life? What if the child is brought up and hated because of what the mother could not do? One cannot talk of “what ifs” when one does not talk about choice.

Did you know it is only recently that Christians believe a person did not become a living being until God breathed life into them at that moment of birth

“I think we know that prior to the Lord putting breath of life into Adam he had a heart, he had a brain with vessels, and these vessels and heart were filled with blood just as the vessels and heart of a fetus are filled with blood. However, Adam did not become a living soul until after the Lord breathed into him the breath of life.

—Robert L. Pettus Jr., MD, As I See Sex Through the Bible, 1973

And “Rabbis have long written that the soul enters the body at birth, with the first breath. For breath is the gift of life from the one who created us. From the God who is both our origin and our destination.”

I know medical science can now keep a baby alive from very early in gestation. I have had friends who have been blessed by this new technology. But that was their choice and that choice has effected their lives since.

I have just read a great article by Nadia Bolz-Weber entitled Stories>Opinions [basically our stories are greater than someone’s opinions] In it she tells her own story of her own abortion, which is very similar to mine, except that she did have a partner with her and friends supporting her. For me, I was in an odd place, sleeping around and did not know who had fathered my child. I was, like Nadia, on a low income and also not in a place to have a child. [I once told this story in a Christian youth group and got cross questioned by the young people, which actually was great because it made me think about what I had done, and I know I did the right thing at that moment in time] Would I have been a good mother then? Who knows. But I chose not to be a mother then.

Later I got my life a bit more sorted and have since had two amazing children. Children that actually I would not have had if I had not aborted the earlier one. Strange that. As someone in my writing group once told me “each choice we make determines where we are today.”

Jon Kuhrt wrote a blog piece a while back on Francis Spufford’s book “Perpetual Light”, which is a story about the children that died in a WWII bomb on a Woolworth’s in London, and what their lives would have been like if they had lived. This got me thinking about what my life would have been like if my first child had lived. I don’t know but I know it would be very different and I know I would not have the children I have now, or the husband I have now, or the life I have now. It would have been different.

When people say about the life of the aborted child they never seem to talk about the life of the mother who has that child, or the father who has to decide what he will do. Also too often the mother is seen as the enemy, as a bad person, who isn’t really thinking properly. I do not know of anyone who did not think through their decisions carefully and how it would impact them and their unborn child. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. But then I did not take it lightly to keep my next two babies. But having an abortion is a taboo subject very rarely talked about in Christian circles openly. Why is that? God knows what I’ve done and still thinks I am amazing. I know this because my first God encounter was of being covered in what felt like a warm, visceral glittery substance and being told I was loved just as I was – unmarried mum who’d had an abortion. I’m not sure what my church would have thought of me if they’d known. I wonder if I will now be asked to stop helping with the youth group that I volunteer at now?

Please can we stop being ashamed of what we’ve done. Please can we start being open about every part of our lives and not just keep God for the clean and tidy bits and pieces. God is the God of the whole of my life – the good and the bad, the times I’ve got it right and the times I’ve got it wrong – and I am loved by God no matter what. That is totally amazing.

And now let us stand together and support those who have had an abortion, who are thinking of having abortions, and also those who think the whole this is an anathema. We are all made in the image of God no matter what we’ve done or what we think. And are loved because of and in spite of all that.