Feminist, author and social commentator Jane Caro has suggested for a number of years that women should ‘shout their abortion’.
In a 2016 article, Jane wrote that ‘abortion and the fear of unwanted pregnancy, frankly, is a normal - if not very pleasant - part of many women’s lives. Shaming women for seeking a termination, whatever the reason, keeps us silent and that silence perpetuates the cycle of shame’.
Indeed it does. Talking about abortion and bringing this taboo subject out in the open has never been more important. Within the last few weeks, the US state of Alabama has signed the most aggressively anti-abortion law in recent American history. If enacted, the law would only permit abortions if the mother’s life were at risk or if the foetus cannot survive, but not in cases of rape or incest . Indeed in some instances, the doctor who would perform the abortion could get more jail time than the rapist himself. The law itself almost defies belief and American women are, as they well should be, up in arms.
Speaking out about abortion is critical. It’s something that, as Jane has said, can be quite commonplace. Perhaps far more commonplace though is suffering a miscarriage. Realistically we know and are told by our health care professionals that 10-20% of women with a ‘medically confirmed’ pregnancy will end in miscarriage. I’d suggest that the rates are higher than that. Most women or at least 50% or more that I know have suffered a miscarriage at some point in time. And although rather common it still doesn’t take from the fact that when it happens to you, it is, if you are trying for a much-wanted baby, absolutely devastating. I never realised until I spoke openly about my own miscarriages, how many women, and indeed actual friends never spoke of their own. When I began to talk they did too, sharing their own suffering which had been in silence for so long. It was the #metoo movement but in a different light. You see there is no shame in having a miscarriage. There may be, and often is grief, but I felt in my situation that the best way to move forward was to talk openly about it with people I cared about. To share my pain and in doing so, others shared theirs.
I still distinctly remember my first miscarriage. I fell pregnant on my honeymoon and found out not long after we returned home that I was pregnant. About 8 weeks later I suffered a devastating first miscarriage. At the time I remember thinking: ‘maybe it was those long lunches we had on our honeymoon (aka too much wine) that caused me to miscarry’. It took me a while to convince myself that it was just nature’s way. Less than twelve months later I went on to have a perfectly healthy baby and then two more after that. My third child is my eighth pregnancy. There has been devastation and heartbreak along the way, but throughout it all, I ‘shouted’ my miscarriage. I spoke to my friends and family and I carried on. So I would encourage all other women to do the same. Shout your miscarriage and let's get women talking about something that is more common than we realise.