Ellen (from Gdynia, Poland): I’m another who has never regretted the decision to abort. Contraceptives failed me not once but twice. Thankfully, this was post Roe v. Wade, so I had a choice.
Among the women I’ve known who made the same decision and discussed it, there were no regrets. Scars were evident, though, on the few of my acquaintance who carried babies to term and gave them up for adoption. My closest friend, for instance, was haunted the rest of her life by the infant daughter she surrendered at 17. She spent considerable time and money searching for the girl, hungry for contact. It was a fruitless search, thwarted by either red tape or the daughter’s disinterest.
While abortion was no joyous event, my own regrets are reserved for the countless women in the not-so-good old days with no access to contraceptives or abortion. And for those still held hostage by their reproductive systems in nations throughout the world. Unfortunately, I live in such a one.
Repressive as it was in so many respects, Communism did promote women’s emancipation to an extent. In the early days of the so-called Workers’ Paradise, education and employment opportunities for women exceeded those in the West; abortions were legal and often free. But post-Communist Poland took a huge backward step in 1993, outlawing all pregnancy terminations except in cases of severely handicapped fetuses, rape or threat to the mother’s life. Even if a woman meets all three categories, abortion is not a given. Doctors are free to refuse to perform abortions and in this overwhelmingly Catholic country, often do. So the unhappily pregnant seek abortions abroad, go the risky illegal route or carry the unwanted child to term.
Despite the antiquated laws governing both abortion and sterilization, at least there is clearly access to effective birth control. Polish families are small. More than two children is unusual. They’re inclined to be Cafeteria Catholics like Westerners. Hopefully they’ll eventually manage to regain the choice of abortion.
Yesterday friends brought me chicken soup – and the entire Harry Potter series. Well, I made it through a few chapters of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” before my eyes glazed over. Just as I’d expected, I’m not catching this fever.
I suppose it doesn’t help that I keep picturing Harry as a small Woody Allen (whom I never could stand, long before the Soon-Yi affair)…or that the setting isn’t “Once upon a time…”. Harry’s days are modern and reality keeps intruding. Where are his teachers, peers and busybody neighbors? Doesn’t someone catch wind of the fact that the little nebbish is forced to live in a cupboard, sometimes held captive for months? Or notice all the physical results of his tangles with that brutish cousin and uncle? That he’s being stalked by an enormous bearded wacko and bombarded with stacks of mysterious letters wherever he and his relentlessly nasty family go? I keep expecting a battery of social workers to descend and cart him off.
“Oh, I envy you, reading these for the first time!” my friend Ania sighed yesterday. She shouldn’t. I’m not sure I’ll ever make it through the debut novel.
Copyright 2008 by Ellen Dlott