Her dyed hair had grown out giving her a thick, grey streak down the middle of her head like a skunk, while the ends were wiry and lank in the morning sun.
Her cheeks were sunken, and chin was resolutely jutting in defiance. She gazed straight ahead, not looking at anything in particular, just standing like a sentinel at the doorway.
She had a homemade billboard hanging from her shoulders with pictures of happy, fat babies playing with their toes next to images of embryos, and bloodied fetuses. I don’t remember what the placard in her hand read. I don’t know if I even read it.
When I walked past her the first time a man was telling her she shouldn’t be there, that it was wrong. I noticed his sandals and socks, a usually unforgivable fashion faux pas but it’s winter so I forgave him… also, he said what I wasn’t brave enough to.
She didn’t even look at him, just continued to stand, her chin was firm as an oak, her gaze like a laser into the distance.
Two policemen walked up and asked the duo what was going on. I walked past and continued to my meeting presuming they would have been moved along but they weren’t. An hour later she was still there in her grotesque protest.
I would like to stand outside hairdressers and picket against mullets. I would picket against adults giving them to themselves, and I would suggest it is cruel to give one to a child. I would add rat tails too. Just for good measure.
But I keep that opinion to myself because we live in a world where we have choices pertaining to our own bodies and we must respect each other’s choices even in the face of vehement disagreeance.
The abortion clinic is not sign posted, but I know it is a clinic because one day in the year just gone I walked through that door with a heart that was heavy to carry in order to terminate an accidental pregnancy.
I know how babies are made, and I generally try not to make them but sometimes shit doesn’t go as planned. It was a cock-up (literally), and I wasn’t proud of it but thankfully I live in an era where I have choices.
Although I am 100% without a doubt certain that I made the right choice for myself, and my children, it was not a light decision to come to. The pros and cons were weighed and weighed again, and the discussions with my lover went well into the night. There were tears.
Having had two children I know the value of that little embryo and all of the marvelous possibilities of what it may become but I also knew that right then in that moment of my life, another child was not what I really wanted.
I don’t need approval of this choice that I made, but I also will not be ashamed for making a decision pertaining not only to my body, but also my mental and physical wellbeing, and that of my children. A baby creates a rather massive disruption and I’ve only just got this boat floating right again.
There was no space in our lives for a baby. It was that simple.
51% of women have had an unplanned pregnancy in Australia. A whoops-a-baby can come as a quite a shock but sometimes that shock can turn to joy. Not always. Up to one in three women in this country will have an abortion in her lifetime but you wouldn’t really know that because no one talks about it.
Is it because it’s still against the law in Queensland and New South Wales? Although it is legal for a doctor to perform an abortion if they feel the health, and wellbeing of the mother may be in jeopardy it is for all intents and purposes a crime to make this choice about yourself and your embryo’s future.
Is it because we are conditioned to be ashamed of being in control of our lives or bodies?
Well, I will not be ashamed. And I encourage anyone else who has made this choice because it was the right choice for them, not to be ashamed either because nobody else should get to choose, or judge, what is right for you.
I’m supremely relieved that this protesting woman was not standing there the day my shadow crossed the threshold because on that day my emotions were running high enough without the judgement of some stranger with graphic billboards.
It would not have changed my decision, and I may just have kicked her in the shins.