We Think of Fingernails

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Written by Shauna Murray.

Images by Amber Schormans.

Abort; bring to a premature end because of a problem or fault.

Notice how the actual definition of ‘abort’ does not hold any connotation of the action being ‘wrong’. It is simply to bring a problem to an end.

Abortion; the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks.

Notice how the actual definition of ‘abortion’ does not hold any connotation of it being ‘wrong’ either, again it is simply an ending to an issue.

Abortion. It can sound terrifying. It IS terrifying. Even more so when the society you live in surrounds you with negative connotations to the matter. For generations society has acted as though the decision to have an abortion is flighty, careless and wrong. They have made assumptions on women’s reasons and they have thrown almost every one of us into a pit of shame and self-loathing. The number of times I have been in a room and heard the statement “It’s only okay if…” is alarmingly high. If what? Why does anyone other than the woman herself get to decide ‘if’ it’s okay? I often wonder; what would those statement makers think of me if they knew? What would they think if they knew that I wasn’t raped, it wasn’t a danger to my health, the baby wasn’t at risk, I wasn’t technically too young and I did know who the father was? What would they think if they knew my choice came from a simple combination of fear and lack of desire for children? Would they abhor me? Shun me? Judge me? Push me away? I think that maybe they could, and that thought brings an abundance of sadness.

I have heard that women like me should have to live with our mistake. That we should have to carry a baby to term as punishment. Punishment. Why is it that we must be punished? For making a mistake? A mistake that took two people to make. Does that mean the man also requires punishment? What do they stand to gain from this punishment we apparently deserve? Satisfaction? Satisfaction that we have brought an unwanted child into the world and must now care for or find care for them throughout their growth? What happiness does that bring to the child? Another child in an overpopulated world, just to satisfy those who wish us to be ‘punished’.

I wish they would see that unfortunately we are already punished. We are punished every second from the moment we look down at that test to see the little plus sign we were hoping not to see. We are punished by every religious manuscript condemning us to some version of hell. We are punished by knowing that the decision we make ends a semblance of a life. We are already punished. We have already punished ourselves and we do not need anyone else’s persecution. We think of fingernails. In the popular American film ‘Juno’, Juno - a pregnant teenager - is heading towards a family planning clinic with the intention of having an abortion. A Pro-Life campaigner outside of the clinic comments that the foetus likely already has fingernails. Fingernails. If you think I am not punished – if you think WE are not punished, we are punished by this knowledge. It is okay to feel the sadness. It is human to feel the sadness. People may try to make us feel that the sadness we experience means that inside we know we have done something ‘wrong’. Forcing guilt upon a human struggling is wrong. Sadness does not mean regret. Sadness does not mean carelessness of thought. Sadness should not equate to shame and self-hatred.

We are entering a time where people are starting to realise that they do not need to be questioned by others on what to do with their own bodies. It is our own choice what we decide to do with our bodies in appearance, sex and health. We make our own decisions and people are accepting and even celebrating all those choices. Why has it not yet extended to what we do with our bodies when faced with the decision of abortion? Why can that not yet be openly accepted? We are making steps forward but we’re waiting for leaps forward, we’re waiting for a high-speed car chase forward, we need it to hurry up. Its time. We are standing up. We are fighting back. And slowly we are being heard - but it’s too slow. We are in 2018 and only now has Ireland repealed against the 8th Amendment, granting women the right to an abortion beyond risk to their own life. No longer will women and girls have to sneak away to England. No longer will they be breaking the laws of their home, awaiting possible conviction. I’ve felt loneliness many times in my life, but the loneliest I’ve ever felt is standing in a small room situated between a waiting room and a surgery room. Wearing a medical gown and taking off my underwear. I cannot fathom the loneliness that must come from having to cross countries before even entering that small room. Having to go against the laws of your country just to enter that room. No longer SHOULD they have to answer to anyone but themselves. But will they feel any better? Ireland may have repealed the amendment but the stigma remains. The stigma around abortion further perpetuates the spiral of emotions in women who are unsure how they feel after the fact. It’s okay not to know how you feel and its okay not to know what you want. It is okay to not feel okay about a choice that was right for you. No emotion has to be concrete.

Ireland has lifted the illegality of abortion. Now it’s time for the world to lift the stigma.

Written by Shauna Murray; Absurdist Playwright, Poet and evidently – PRO CHOICE.

@bleachedcreature / shaunamurray@live.co.uk