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Abortion Rights & the Social Conundrum

Abortion Rights & the Social Conundrum

Once I adored a gorgeous damsel. And she loved me. We got pregnant on the six month of the year but were not ready to parent. It was my first time (that I know of) to fertilize a womb. Hers was a heart brimming with glee and glam. And me, the Luo boy she charmed.

We both consented to procuring an abortion. Not the easiest option, but the best, considering our emotional and mental health regarding proximity to nurture a baby. And other significant factors.

I had no prior awareness on the emotional wavelength needed to support one’s partner through the distressing process. My God, she needed a lot. And me too.
We bought the pills and agreed she’d spend the weekend at mines.

There’s barely any postabortion care for male partners (that I know of), yet abortion carries an element of loss for both partners. Especially partners in it together. It’s harder now because women often find themselves alone in this situation. So the system may not have thought through galvanizing support for the grieving male too. I understand.

We cried a lot together that weekend, clutching hands feeling the weight of the hours. I washed her feet and affirmed her of my presence. I feared any imminent post traumatic stress so I really pushed myself. To let her know she wasn’t alone much as it was a deeply personal experience. I felt helpless whenever she was in pain and all I could do was hold her body. It was immensely stressful.

We got through it together and soon enough got it behind us. I learned that pain is humanized by emotional support. It heals gracefully.

I think people (read patriarchy) have misguided ideas on legalization of abortion and reproductive health and rights in general. There is not a woman I know on earth who enjoys letting go of a foetus for the fun of it; who has reckless sex just because they have access to terminating a pregnancy at will. Because that’s how we present women to justify our fear to legalize abortion. Apart from religious reasons.

It’s connected to many other complex ideas about sex, children, body autonomy and what God supposedly wants. But we all know who tells us what God wants. We know who curates health budgets and legislates over the land. We know they control what we consume in class and at home and when we’re alone. It’s all classic choreography.

We conceptualize abortion from a narrow lens. Simply as life being taken away. I think it’s dishonest or ignorant to snub the bordering realities of the women seeking this service. The myriad underlying social, economic and health circumstances are yet to be fully explored.

Globally, the most commonly reported reason women cite for inducing an abortion is to postpone or stop childbearing. The second most common reason—socio-economic concerns—includes disruption of education or employment; lack of support from the father, poverty, unemployment and/or inability to afford additional children.

I think people opposed to abortion rights act out of fear and not anger. Anger is not a primary emotion. It has a root. I think the people who draw on religion to discredit the need for reproductive health rights are not as candid about their own faith, to simplify such a sensitive, compound, intricate experience to one line “thou shalt not kill”, shutting the conversation that patronizingly.

We ought to be honest about the need to control people’s lives and why that seems so important to us. And the cycle of violence it breeds top to bottom. Because this is also a class issue.

If we’re to cite the Kenyan constitution’s provision for abortion that says it’s only permissible when the mother’s life is in danger, heck a woman’s life is in danger everyday wherever she is in this world, pregnant or not. So that clause doesn’t even make sense.

My partner and I were privileged enough to access private services for the process. But for many underprivileged women living in urban, semi urban and rural areas, their bodies do not belong to them.

In my introspection, I also contemplate on the emotions of the male partner in this conundrum. What if he’d like to keep the baby but the lady doesn’t? And yet if he doesn’t but she does, she can still go ahead to keep it. It’s interesting, yah? Since I’m not carrying the child, then I have no say regarding this situation. But I took part in forming it.

How I wish we would normalize these discussions so that people wouldn’t have to throw jabs at each other while passing their thoughts.

Can you imagine it’s 21st Century; black people are being hunted for their blackness, Africans still die by the sea hoping to get a better life in Europe, medicine is shit expensive and it’s hella difficult to have a simple conversation about why a woman shouldn’t access reproductive health rights.

While improved contraceptive use can aid reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion, some abortions will remain difficult to prevent, because of limits to women’s ability to determine and control all circumstances of their lives.

Onyango Otieno

Onyango Otieno is a cultural designer ardent in maximizing the power of storytelling for healing and connection. Onyango believes in the potent spirit of humanity collectively creating safe spaces for interaction, development, business and movement, for a more cohesive world.

1 Comment

  • Mugeshi
    November 27, 2022

    God, thank you for Otieno. I have not come across a single man on earth with a heart and soul such as yours. Keep speaking up.


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