If you ask me, in response to the assault that abortion rights are receiving in America, and to the pro-lifer I heard on the radio the other day saying abortions are now "too freely available", I would say this: I did not believe abortion provision could ever be too freely available until the other morning, when I filled up the car at the garage, went to pay, and was asked by the man behind the grille: "Would you like an LED torch with that, love? A microwavable teddy? Or an abortion?"
An abortion?, I queried. Are they expensive? "Giving them away, love. They're really easy to get these days. We have hundreds stocked out back." Oh go on then, I said, I'll take one. "Just the one?" he asked. "You don't want one for now, and one for later?" I said one would be fine for the minute, and popped the abortion in my handbag.
It would, I thought, prove handy on those days when I couldn't get the morning-after pill couriered to my work address, and straight into my mouth, and possibly swallowed for me, if I were to pay the extra.
Anyway, it was the same wherever I went. I went to Tesco, where I saw they were doing a "buy one get one free" on abortions, and Paul bakery, which was offering an abortion free with every sourdough loaf – I should think so; the cost of those loaves! – and attended a dental appointment, just for a check-up, but as my dentist said, "While you are here, can I interest you in one of your other services? Whitening? Botox? An abortion?", I was beginning to see the pro-lifers had a point. "Just ask the receptionist for an abortion on the way out," my dentist continued, "and you can have one along with the balloon and smiley sticker." I went home, where I kvetched to my husband about abortions being too freely available these days, not that I was telling him anything new. "I know," he said. "There was one in the Weetabix packet this morning. Just fell into my bowl. Gave me quite a start."
And so it's true. Abortions aren't about hard and complicated decisions, much soul-searching and all those reverberations down the years. They aren't about giving women control of their own bodies, and allowing them to make their own choices at a difficult and vulnerable time when they should be shown only compassion. Abortions are simply, as the pro-lifers say, "a day out".
Indeed, I had the afternoon off yesterday and although I did think about going to the Tate Modern, I then remembered the abortion in my handbag, and I had that instead.
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