by Claire van Ryn.
It is with great respect and gratitude that I write to address you and those in your profession. You are an integral part of this community and without your dedication, your long hours and your passion for healthcare, illnesses would go undiagnosed, pain would persist, fears would not be allayed and quality of life would be diminished.
I write on behalf of mothers everywhere. When we have that first inkling of pregnancy, and when the pregnancy test confirms those suspicions, you are our first point of contact in the medical chain of care. We are vulnerable with you, and your words, advice and opinions make a deep impression. Perhaps you don’t realise it, but we have you on a bit of a pedestal on account of your intelligence and that framed piece of paper on your wall.
With all this in mind I plead: don’t assume.
Don’t assume that a younger woman’s life would be ruined if she became a mum.
Don’t assume that a woman with six children already, doesn’t have the capacity to love and welcome another.
Don’t assume that a woman with disabilities cannot find her own ways to provide and parent.
Don’t assume that a woman’s current financial crisis won’t change for the better.
Don’t assume that a woman is not strong enough to overcome despite challenging circumstances.
Don’t assume she is too young, too old, too poor, too frail, too unstable, too career-focused, too busy or too under-resourced.
And don’t assume that you don’t hold a life in your hands – the influence to affirm or take away that gift.
We come to you vulnerable, with a million what-ifs racing through our thoughts. Don’t assume that our current state of shock or despair means we are not able. We are women – we are strong beyond measure. We have within us the innate ability to rise up; our bodies are powerful enough to house and sustain new life!
Sometimes we need to be reminded is all.
Finally I ask you, please don’t assume that abortion solves the problem of an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion is like rubbing dirt into a wound and then slapping on a Bandaid. The repercussions reach far into the future and you might already be aware that women who have travelled this path will frequent your rooms more regularly as a result.
Your words have the power to affirm life, or take it away. So next time we come to you vulnerable, seeking advice – don’t assume.