We all want to make choices for ourselves. Most women, however, are not afforded that luxury, as every choice, from wardrobe to reproduction, becomes a topic of public discussion.
The scrutiny is multiplied beyond my mathematical comprehension when the woman in question is a celebrity. Looks and decisions are meticulously dissected every time she "steps out" or "flaunts" or "shows off" before image-hungry cameras. One of the tabloid’s favorite pastimes is "womb watch," guessing which celebrity is pregnant, or has perhaps eaten a large lunch, before wondering when certain celebrities like Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz are planning on children as they’re deemed to be running out of time.
Every celebrity pregnancy announcement is filled with positivity.
We’re told of the immense joy and blessing that pregnancy is, reinforcing the idea that motherhood is a woman’s true calling. Reality often doesn’t look like that, as not every pregnancy is planned and wanted and some women may feel worried or ambivalent about the prospect of children overall.
That’s why Australian model Robyn Lawley’s decision to share her thoughts about an accidental pregnancy is so important to the overall narrative surrounding pregnancy.
Lawley is a 25-year-old pro-choice feminist and successful "plus-size" model who has worked for many mainstream brands like Ralph Lauren so it’s safe to assume that she has financial security; she’s also engaged and has previously discussed having children with her partner. In many ways she is in the best position to have a baby. Nevertheless, Lawley, like many women the world over, had many things to consider before continuing with her pregnancy.
In a recent interview, she revealed: “As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I had to take all options into account, because with a baby, I’ll have to majorly slow down — and I’m very career driven. That scared me.”
“The reality is many women face a plethora of factors when considering whether to have an abortion. My case is no different.”
It’s very reassuring to hear such a rational and calm consideration of abortion without the hyperbolic discussion of personal tragedy and torment that seem to make up the permissible "good abortion" accounts. That’s not to say that sometimes one account is wrong or better than another but only one is allowed to exist without pro-lifers (anti-choicers, really) reaching for their pitchforks.
Lawley openly acknowledged that one of her biggest worries about pregnancy stemmed from the effects it has on the body saying “one of the biggest [fears] for me was related to my career, which necessarily and perhaps unfortunately relates, at least in part, to my body image.”
Unsurprisingly, the comments on the Daily Mail article, now no longer to be found, called her selfish for worrying about her body and denouncing women in general for not valuing human life. What those commenters fail to consider, besides basic human compassion, is the possible difficulty of returning to work after having a child or affording childcare. Once again, the child’s life is only considered while in utero and the woman is a mere vessel, not a person with life goals beyond children.
What’s most interesting to me about this story is Lawley’s ultimate decision to keep the baby.
No, it’s not in itself shocking, but had she not chosen to disclose the deliberation regarding an abortion, we would never have known. It makes me wonder how many celebrities -- and even acquaintances -- go through a similar process, later to either announce the joyful pregnancy news or simply keep silent about their decisions.
When Lawley was considering termination she said: “I thought it'd be so easy! I'd just walk in there, and it'd be done so quickly, but then I called them and heard the process and thought this is a serious, full-on thing. I decided then that I wanted to keep the baby.”
I begin to wonder who exactly the "them" in this instance represents because it seems like she wasn’t given the correct information unless her pregnancy was already well under way. Of course abortion is a medical procedure with associated risks though it has been found by researchers at UC San Francisco in a recent study to be as safe as a colonoscopy with nearly all of the procedures being performed at a doctor’s office or an outpatient clinic -- not a hospital. This research would suggest that abortion is actually not a "full on thing" but a minor and extremely safe procedure.
All this aside, Lawley has made the right choice because it's the choice that she and she alone is making.
I, personally, am thankful to her for revealing her decision-making process, adding another rational voice to a discussion that often gets seized by individuals with ill intentions and misinformation. Hopefully in the not too distant future women will be able to speak openly about such decisions in public without inspiring murderous rage from people who want to police women’s private lives and bodies.