Illustration: Julia Pustet
Guest post by Julia Pustet: Psychological late effects my ass.
Instead of unnecessary studies on abortions: six things we would do with 5 million euros.
Health Minister and women’s expert Jens Spahn was granted five million euros at the beginning of 2019 to carry out a study on the psychological consequences of abortions. This is ridiculous. And neither Spahn nor his party is concerned about the welfare of women. In the debate about §219a, the so-called “advertising ban” for abortions, it once again became clear that it is difficult for women to find a suitable doctor for an abortion at all, for the CDU this doesn’t seem to matter. “Who wants to have an abortion must suffer” is the party’s intention.
Basically, it is significant that the factual information about offering abortions as a doctor is called “advertising”. One gets the impression that even the mere possibility of an abortion in women creates an irresistible urge to have the uterus cleansed. In the debate about §219a, women are often treated like children who can’t pull themselves together when a few chocolate bars are lying out at the supermarket checkout.
Comparing hormone bombs with chocolate can only be done by those who have never had to struggle with the side effects of the birth control pill.
Women, one might think, find it difficult to pull themselves together in the prospect of a bit of pregnancy thrill because of their greed: in 2014 Spahn warned that women could eat the “morning after pill” “like Smarties” if it were available without a prescription. Apart from the fact that contraceptive mistakes always involve two people, only a cis-man can really compare hormone bombs with chocolate candy. Most women who had to get acquainted with the contraceptive pill or the morning-after pill know more about the side effects of taking hormones than our Minister of Health.
If we follow his image of women, we are impulsive, sex-driven, trashy and worthy of protection. Of course, not from violent husbands, poverty, steadily rising rents or social exclusion from being a single parent – no. Above all, women must be protected from themselves.
In order to be able to guarantee this protection from the all-too-feminine in women, Spahn now asks, of course objectively and completely impartially, about the psychological late effects of abortions. And this despite the fact that the topic has actually been sufficiently researched: several studies since the 1980s have found that there is no causal connection between abortions and mental illnesses/traumas. Possible correlations are rather due to the general life situations of women: If, for example, they are in a violent partnership, if the pregnancy was caused by rape or if they were forced to abort, there is a certain probability that they will suffer from psychological problems after the abortion. However, this does not mean that the termination is the cause of these problems.
How about investigating the psychological consequences of life as a single mother with Hartz4?
Is Spahn as interested in the psyche of a woman who gives birth to and raises a child in a precarious financial situation? Without a partner, with a violent partner, at an extremely young age, without a functioning social network, or due to family coercion? Does he care that, according to a recent survey, 20% of women regret having had children? That the life satisfaction of couples decreases on average after childbirth due to fears of the future and a lack of state support? Questionable. Spahn’s attitude to Hartz4 (“So everyone has what they need to live”) suggests that the fate of people with children is less important to him than that of women who self-determinedly decide to abort a pregnancy.
“The desired result – that women suffer from abortions – can be excellently used to impute coldness and heartlessness to all women who do not mourn the foetus”.
The planned study is another attempt to curtail women’s right to physical self-determination. The suspicion that women might suffer from their decision after an abortion makes use of an outdated image of women, according to which women are born deep down to be loving mothers. The desired result – that women suffer from abortions – can be excellently used to imply cold and heartlessness to women who do not mourn the foetus.
As annoying as Spahn’s plan may be, it is not surprising that the Party of Concerned Men has never been in a particularly good position to exercise the right to physical self-determination. In 1997, the German Bundestag decided to make rape illegal in marriage. Of the 138 dissenting votes, 130 came from men from CDU, CSU and FDP. Would the Minister of Health of the Hearts, then tender 17, have joined Mr Seehofer, Mr Merz and Mr Kauder?
But enough of the polemics. We might have a few constructive ideas on what could be done with 5 million euros.
1. Better financial and infrastructural support for single mothers
The overwhelming majority of single parents in Germany is women. As a rule, single mothers are poorer, more vulnerable to socially decline and more indebted than single fathers. Okay, in order to really raise the Hartz4 rate to a level that helps women and their children to a decent life, a little more than 5 million euros are needed. The political efforts needed to restructure the labour market so that single mothers are no longer threatened by unemployment are probably a little more expensive. Not even the revolution is free. Nevertheless, transferring five euros to any single woman at risk of poverty would still be more rewarding than Spahn’s study.
2. Expansion of women’s shelters
The 62 women’s shelters in North Rhine-Westphalia, which receive 9.5 million euros annually from CDU and FDP, rejected more than 7358 requests for help last year. It is difficult to determine the exact number of women seeking protection, as most victims of domestic violence go to several women’s shelters. Nevertheless, the rising numbers make it very clear that domestic violence in families is an urgent problem with which women are left alone. That’s even shittier than Spahn’s study.
3. Extension of delivery rooms and state aid for the insurance of midwives
Thanks to absurdly expensive liability insurance, the midwifery profession in Germany is so badly paid that more and more freelance midwives are withdrawing or only working part-time. Because the sum insured becomes due when independent midwives are in charge of births, many of them only offer preparatory and follow-up courses, and babies are increasingly delivered in sterile circle rooms by doctors. Women who wish to have another birth, without medication and in a more pleasant environment, increasingly have to do without a midwife. At the same time, it often happens that in the middle of Germany, women are sent away by hospitals with contractions because there is no more room in the delivery room. And then give birth to her child in the parking lot. That sucks. So does Spahn’s study.
4. More daycare slots
Most Berliners around the age of 30 know at least one couple who are completely desperate to find a daycare centre. In Berlin, there is a shortage of about 3000 day care spots, in the whole of Germany about 300,000. Because women are on average paid less than men, in the majority of cases they are the ones who have to sacrifice their careers for child care. In fact, billions, not millions, are lacking for the expansion of daycare centres and better incentives to become an educational professional. Still, Spahn’s study sucks.
5. Free contraception and STD tests for everyone
Chlamydia is known to make people infertile. However, the test for the sexually transmitted pathogen costs around 100 euros for women over 25 in Germany. The combination package (all STDs plus HIV) even makes it to 120. STD tests have to be paid for from your own pocket, as if reproductive health were a special luxury. The IUD can cost women who are technically no longer low-income earners 200-500 euros. Quite a lot of money if you have to pay for kids and perverted city rents. Spahn wants fewer abortions? Then let him pay for our IUD. And also, for our STD tests. Meanwhile, what he can get rid off: his stupid study.
Becoming parents, actually: becoming a mother is associated with many hurdles in Germany – especially for members of low-income groups, to whom many academics belong today. It does not matter whether an abortion takes place due to the life situation, the partnership situation, the age or the decision against children: it has been proven that abortions are usually well processed. In addition, contrary to the cliché of the “miracle of life”, not all parents are happy in the long term about having decided to have a pregnancy. People become unintentionally pregnant for a variety of reasons. And it’s up to you to decide how you deal with it.
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