Intrigued, I agreed. The podcast of the show is available here (see Panel discussion part 1 and 2 dated 6 May). I think it was probably one of the most complex interviews I have ever been involved in.
Abortion is a highly controversial topic, despite the fact that it has been legal in South Africa, with certain restrictions, since 1997.
When the law was considered before Parliament, 452 written submissions, and 100 oral submissions, were made to the committee that eventually decided in favour of a woman's right to choose.
Importantly, the pregnant woman is the only person who is legally required to give consent for the procedure to take place.
The Termination of Pregnancy Act was not the first example of the human right to choose what happens to your body.
The Bill of Rights, Section 12 (2) notes that everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right for each person (a) to make decisions about reproduction and (b) to security in and control over their own body.
But when you ask questions about abortion within a relationship, it’s unlikely that they’re questions about the law. They are questions about feelings.
When I pitched the question on twitter, I got a variety of responses from both sides, and they were similar to those received during the original interview.
I was interested in the emphasis on context. During the radio interview, a lot of focus was on the supposed trauma caused by an abortion, with few taking into account that for many women an abortion may feel like a relief rather than a trauma, and that having an unwanted child may also cause trauma.
Many people asked whether the pregnancy was planned, whether the partners were in a relationship, whether it was a one night stand. A common saying was 'it takes two to tango'. Nobody asked whether the relationship was stable, or whether contraception was used if the pregnancy was unplanned.
For the purposes of clarity my position is as follows: Having a baby is a long term job. Statistically in South Africa, most children are raised by a single parent and that parent is frequently the mother.
Even when both parents are in the home, other statistics indicate that men spend far less time on child care than women.
So parenthood is a long term plan and often the implementation of that plan is left to women. I therefore feel they should be the most important person having a say.
Second, the womb is inside a woman's body. Requiring men to have a say would be allowing men to make decisions about women's bodies. So then you get a whole host of other questions – how long does the relationship have to be for him to get this right to be involved in the decision?
What if the pregnancy was unplanned? Is a partner in a good relationship more entitled to a say than one in a relationship that is not going well?
In essence, I think that defining the grounds of men’s control over women’s wombs and bodies can result in a slippery slope of dissolving women’s ability to make decisions about her own health and future in the absence of a partner.
So I think we should leave decisions about wombs to those who have them, and trust that women are able to make the right decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
Ultimately, I believe that women are in a pretty good place most times to evaluate what's best for their own bodies because THEY LIVE IN THEM. For me it’s the same as if your partner wanted to get circumcised and you felt strongly that he shouldn’t – it’s his body, his choice.
A case in the media lately has made this conversation even more interesting. Sofia Vergara, and her then partner, had an egg of hers fertilised with his sperm and stored it in order to use later.
However, they have since split up, and she wants the egg destroyed and he doesn’t. This seems to make for an even more complex discussion about who owns that egg, and who ultimately gets the final say.
I think that in a healthy relationship if you are going to have an abortion it might be nice to talk to your partner, but I certainly don't think it is required if you strongly feel that you do not want the baby, and I DEFINITELY don't think that if he says you shouldn't get an abortion, that means you can't get one.