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Dear Daughter, Here’s What I Want to Tell You About Your Right to Choose an Abortion

singapore abortion: roe v wade thoughts
ParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting - Post Category - Older KidsOlder Kids

Did you know there are at least 24 countries in the world currently where a woman’s right to choose is restricted or illegal?

To my future daughter,

Lately, it seems like no matter where I go, everyone has something to say about abortion and women’s rights. Everyone’s raging about Roe v. Wade being overturned (as they should!), and fearful of how that may have repercussions the world over. As women, we battle glass ceilings, gender pay gaps, inequality in our households and in society, and the ever-dreaded patriarchy, which, honestly, is a struggle enough. But here’s the thing, kiddo, the good ol’ US of A isn’t the only place where a person’s right to choose what happens to their body is under threat (or entirely non-existent). There are at least 24 countries in the world currently where abortions are restricted or illegal. Shocking for the 21st century, isn’t it?

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been spared that choice”

I was only 16 when I first understood what abortion meant. An old friend of mine found herself having to decide if she wanted to keep her baby or not.

She was a beautiful and free-spirited girl who simply had no other option; her painful choice was shaped by her family’s finances and potentially losing out on a college education, but more than that, she just wasn’t ready to care for another innocent life. What saddened me most was how everyone in our friend circle shunned her, and nobody took the time to sit with her and see that she was just a scared teenager who trusted the wrong boy.

I remember talking to my own mother about it, and just like everyone else, she had nothing good to say about my friend. Good girls don’t do such things, she said. I asked her then why people are so threatened by women who are courageous enough to make their own choices; she had no answer. She didn’t look me in the eye either when I asked her why people always made it their mission to police women’s bodies and decide how we should clothe and care for them. Instead, she shushed me and said I shouldn’t talk back like that.

“Sometimes, not everyone will want to hear what you have to say about the issues that matter.”

20 years on, I’m still not sure if I have all the answers, or whether the answers I do have will satisfy you in any way. While I may not be able to solve these problems before you arrive, if you ever do, what I can give you is a promise to do things differently with you.

As you grow up and experience the world, you will form your own opinions about abortion and women’s rights. Instead of silencing you the way I was silenced by teachers and my own mother, I will instead listen to what you have to say. I will encourage your pursuits in finding the answers I never could, and devising solutions I would’ve never dreamed of. But before that, my darling, I ask you to keep an open mind always, and to listen to as many perspectives as you possibly can – the black, white and grey of it all. After all, how will you know and understand anyone’s truth – yours included – if you’ve never put yourself in another’s shoes?

“Listen to others without silencing yourself.”

Discussing abortion and women’s rights – and all the opinions I had about it – didn’t get any easier in my 20s and 30s. I remember having a heated debate with a family member about being pro-choice, and realising, to my disappointment, that they thought I was going to burn in hell for having such an opinion. It certainly soured our relationship afterwards, and there’s no repairing that damage.

It made me realise that along the way, people will try to project their beliefs on you. They may tell you what you should say or do, and what you should feel or think, but hold strong, dear daughter, and do not let their voices drown out what you have to say. Listening to others is important, but their beliefs and opinions should never undermine the choices you feel are best for you. And if you feel that other voices are drowning you out, I promise to create a safe space for you to air your thoughts freely, without judgement. And even if I don’t agree with what you have to say, I promise to be respectful so we can keep our conversations civil and our relationship intact.

“I can’t possibly imagine what it would be like to have to choose to terminate a pregnancy.”

We’re lucky enough to live in Singapore where abortion, whether for personal or medical reasons, is entirely your choice, but it’s still not something you should take for granted. More importantly, when you come to me with questions about your body, I won’t shy away from you as my elders did. Instead, I will help you understand why consent is so important (and why you have every right to say NO anytime you want to, even if you said yes at first). I will walk you through all the complexities of sex and contraception because I want you to always be prepared instead of having to discover things from questionable Internet sources (and equally misguided friends) like I did.

And the reason why I’d create this space for you – even if I’m already mortified at the thought of having these conversations – is so you understand that the only person who owns your body and decides what happens to it is YOU. Unfortunately, as women, we’re always required to weigh every step before we make a move, and I hope that by being a mother to you like I never had, you’ll learn to love your body, appreciate all the wondrous things it can and will do for you, and understand the kinds of choices that lie before you in any situation early on in life.

More importantly, if you ever find yourself having to make an impossible choice like my friend once did, then I will be there for you till the end of the line. I won’t judge, and I promise I won’t get mad. Instead, I will hold your hand, and I will give you all the hugs you need. I will remind you that there is no wrong choice, whatever your decision may be, and I will love you all the same if not more than I already do.

The women in my generation, me included, may not be able to have the impact we desire on global laws or shameful policies that undermine or eliminate bodily autonomy or your right to choose – though we certainly will put up a hard fight. And a part of me hopes that these conversations may inspire you, so you will grow to become a strong and independent woman who will proudly smash stereotypes and speak your mind; that you will be a woman who will always have control over your body and your choices, no matter where you end up in the world.

Love always,
Your (maybe one day) mama

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