The right to choose

Appearing on the SBS show Insight was amazing. What is even more amazing is the discussions that people have initiated with me since then. I’ve become the keeper of stories from women across several generations. Being open and authentic about my story has encouraged others to be open with me about their own experiences. I’ve heard about a war bride that was deceived, parents having affairs and women that got more than a date from internet dating. I feel like I’ve heard it all. Unplanned pregnancies are nothing new. What is new is that we’ve been through a sexual revolution. Society’s ideas about sex have evolved, so why hasn’t our perception of single parents?

Sex education is something that hopefully everyone has been through. Somehow, somewhere, we have been educated on the pleasures of sex and where babies come from. Hopefully the issue of contraception has also arisen. No matter what method is used, there is no complete guarantee that you will not contract a disease, infection or create a zygote. If it’s not surprising that the pleasure of sex is coupled with the risk of an unplanned pregnancy, why are we still judging those that fall pregnant while participating in casual sex?

Furthermore, where does the expectation come from that unplanned pregnancies must be automatically aborted? Especially those from casual relationships. Generally society is accepting of women choosing to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Pro-choice must mean that while women may terminate, the choice to follow the pregnancy through is also acceptable. You cannot have one without the other. If women are free to choose to have sex, by default, surely they’re free to choose what to do with the pregnancy.

In Australia we are blessed to have a government that is supportive of single parent families. I’ve heard the argument that women are choosing to fall pregnant to gain access to more money via the welfare system. This is a stupid argument. Let me explain why.

The money I get from the government for being a single parent is LESS then the minimum wage. I went back to work when my daughter was four months old. My employment income combined with the government support I receive is the same as what I was earning when I worked full time. The difference is that now I have a baby who is fully dependent on me. Having a baby is not an effective way of increasing disposable income. Babies and children in general have a wonderful talent of devouring any disposable income you thought you had.

Unplanned pregnancies and single parents have been consistently present within society for a very, very long time. Nether are failures. Surely as a society we can recognise that unplanned pregnancies happen and occasionally turn people into single parents. Next time, instead of judging why don’t you buy the single parent in your life a coffee? They probably need one.