dualism between the rejection of pregnancy and the desire to become pregnant
is a very special feature of the extremely ambiguous situations typical
of women's nature and constitution. The problems related to the confrontation
between women's aphrodisiac side and the maternal instinct ( their demetric
side ) are extremely complex, so the existence of a conflict here is perfectly
understandable. Faced with this situation, I usually remark that women's
nature divides itself in two "halves": one remains more linked
to their aphrodisiac side, and the other to the maternal side. ( For more
details on this subject, see "The
Possibility of Becoming Pregnant and its Implications for Women".
is, to a considerable extent, self-eroticism related to the woman's body
itself and to its aesthetics, possessing a strong narcissist component.
For women, this creates a great concern with the preservation of the aesthetics,
the shape and fitness of their bodies. The great care with which women
beautify themselves clearly demonstrates this fact. On the other hand,
for the fulfillment of the maternal instinct, a considerable sacrifice
of the female body is demanded ( not to mention the other implications
and problems resulting from motherhood in other areas of women's lives
). From my point of view, the main reason for women's ambiguity between
desiring and rejecting pregnancy lies just here.
It is an undeniable
medical fact that pregnancy and childbirth greatly sacrifice women because,
besides the physiological overcharge and even the risk of death they cause,
they produce in women's bodies great distortions and stretching of tissues
which do not always return to normal during and after puerperium. This
fact conflicts with the great female effort to preserve the aesthetics,
the shape and even the health of their bodies. From the corporeal point
of view, pregnancy and childbirth do not benefit women in almost anything
except for some reduction on the incidence of breast cancer ( See Note
1 ). In fact, they are much more prejudicial, since they necessarily
imply considerable anatomic and physiological "aggressions"
to the female body. ( By
the way, I use to call them "the physiological 'aggressions' of pregnancy
and parturition". )
The aforementioned duality of
female attitudes regarding avoiding and desiring pregnancy has several consequences
both on women's lives and gynecologic practice. Among them we can mention
the irregular use of contraceptives, the occurrence of conflicting pregnancies
and the problem of abortion.
us talk about abortion.
the right to the interruption of undesired pregnancies, that is, the right
to abortion, a fundamental right of women. This right is even related
to the self-preservation of the female body against the arduous sacrifices
that gestation and childbirth impose upon it. Here, I think that the so
frequently debated rights of the embryo cannot prevail over the rights
of the woman who houses it inside her body - a body that has to be considerably
sacrificed so that the embryo can develop and be born - especially if
this happens against the woman's will. The physically injurious aspects
of pregnancy and childbirth for women are always ignored by those who,
many times with fanaticism, are against the legalization of abortion or
discriminate against it. Nevertheless, as I said above, these physical
injuries are a medical fact, a medical reality, and all
of us, gynecologists, know them quite well.
We live in
a culture that excessively mythicizes the "wonders" of motherhood
and tries not to see its negative side - and everything in life has its
positive and negative sides. In spite of its pleasant, fulfilling and
constructive aspects when it is fully desired, we have to recognize that
pregnancy also has a considerable harmful side. As to the recognition
of this fact I would like to remark that, depending on the presuppositions
through which we view determined situations, reality may appear to us
in considerably different ways and some of its usually unperceived aspects
may acquire completely different features. In this way, what I am about
to say may be shocking but, biologically ( though "naturally"
), the embryo invades and plunders the woman's body. And birth is a violent
event not only for the mother but also for the child ( See Note
sequelae that gestation and parturition can leave on the female body are,
as I said before, well known to all of us, gynecologists, and also to
women themselves. Therefore, a woman has to desire very much to be a mother
if she is up to tolerating willingly and with satisfaction all of the
sacrifices and risks inherent to pregnancy and parturition and if she
is up to receiving the child with love.
aspect of the preservation of the female body against the "natural
aggressions" of pregnancy, there are all of the other reasons that
have been much discussed by everybody and that, in my opinion, also give
women the perfect and entire right to abortion. However, it seems to me
that the facts emphasized here ( often forgotten or not correctly conceptualized
by most of those who debate the issue ) are the ones that can finally
put an end to the debate, recognizing once and for all this fundamental
right of women regarding their bodies.
the accidental occurrence of an undesired gestation, abortion is the only
way a woman has to preserve herself against the corporeal aggressions
of pregnancy. In such a circumstance, considering the very peculiar biological
situation of the embryo, its rights cannot prevail over those of the woman
who carries it inside her body.
For a pregnancy
that is left to evolve under conditions of strong rejection, I would like
to emphasize that the implications of this fact for the child who will
be born are also considerable and, therefore, should not be neglected.
Unfortunately, this is another aspect that those who oppose women's right
to abortion naively or tendentiously often forget.
to the subject of the female instinctive duality between rejecting and
desiring to become pregnant, I would like to observe that the absence
of awareness of this natural ambiguous situation by most women has several
consequences in gynecologic practice. Among them are: 1) the incorrect
use of contraceptives with all of its consequent worries, creating many
difficulties for a safe, calm and pleasant sexual life; 2) the frequent
occurrence of undesired pregnancies ( or desired on the one hand and rejected
on the other, consciously or unconsciously ) that have to be solved through
abortion; 3) the problems resulting from pregnancies that are left to
evolve under strong rejection and, consequently, in adverse emotional
1: It is well known that, according to several statistical
studies, women who have more than two or three children - mostly if the
first gestation takes place earlier in life - have a minor incidence of
breast cancer. From the corporeal point of view, this seems to be the
only beneficial aspect of pregnancy to women. This relative protection
is due to the specific hormonal patterns of pregnancy and their effects
on the mammary glandular structures. Even so, given the high incidence
of the disease, the number of women with children who develop breast cancer
is also enormous.
2: As to the traumatic aspects of pelvic parturition for children,
see Stanislav Grof's studies on the "perinatal matrixes of the unconscious."
According to Grof, they consist of unconscious mostly traumatic psychological
contents clearly related to the phases of childbirth blended with archetypal
and mythological elements, and are detected at deep psychical research
( Grof, S. - "Beyond the Brain - Birth, Death and Transcendence in
Psychotherapy" - University of New York, Albany, 1985 ).
is a gynecologist dedicated to Clinical, Preventive and Psychosomatic
Gynecology. Graduated in 1974 by Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro, he is the author of several articles published
in medical journals and of the books "Novas
Perspectivas em Ginecologia" ( "New Perspectives in Gynecology"
) and "Os Órgãos
Sexuais Femininos: Forma, Função, Símbolo e Arquétipo"
( "The Female Sexual Organs: Shape, Function, Symbol and Archetype"
), published by Imago Editora, Rio de Janeiro, 1990, 1993.
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