My orchestra piece Unborn, originally for a large orchestra, will get it’s chamber orchestra premiere in two weeks time, so that is why I want to write about why I wrote this piece in the first place.
This is my program comment on Unborn:
“Unborn op.31 is my first larger work for orchestra. The main idea for the piece came into form already in early 2011, but I didn’t write down the piece until the spring 2014 when graduating from Tampere University of Applied Sciences. In the autumn 2015 I finalised today's version of the piece, which was premiered by Jyväskylä Sinfonia in January 2016. This year (2017) I have made a new arrangement of the piece for the Tampering Ensemble, which will be premiered 26.8.2017.
The piece has three different characters which are represented by the different instrument groups: the strings and bass drum play a pure and growing theme of life, the brass an almost aggressively persuasive material which leaves the woodwinds to ponder between the choice of on whose side to be. During the piece the brass gradually manages to force the woodwinds in to their own shape, towards the end.
Unborn is a story about life and death, about personal choices, and about society, and of course about good and bad. It is my personal testimony against how easily abortions are nowadays committed, often without enough reflection on how it will also affect the mother and her life afterwards, not to mention the unborn child. The piece is dedicated to all the mothers of the world, who don’t get support or approval from their surrounding for their motherhood.”
Living in Finland, where abortion is legal since 1970, I maybe have a privileged situation, because abortion is simple and rather unstigmatized. But I still feel it is a slight taboo: everyone is so keen on talking about the right of women to decide about their own bodies and their right to commit abortion. But I feel that people tend to forget the other side of the discussion: women’s right to know about psychological stress and depression after abortion, as well as a woman’s rights to keep her child, irrespectively of her age, social status or income. These aspects are in some cases not discussed, and I have met a few very devastated women, who wish they would have been better informed about these aspects.
Sometimes I wish I could choose what I believe in. When living in Scandinavia, you are more or less expected to accept abortion. You are expected to accept this opinion, and no other opinion seems to be socially acceptable. I wish I could choose, but I can’t. Deep inside I believe abortion is something that should try to be avoided at any expense, because deep inside I believe it is life we are killing.
I can’t say that I think that abortion is wrong under any circumstances; if the mother’s’ health is endangered, I do feel her life is more important than the unborn child, because the mother has already a place and family here in life. And I am a lucky person who never has had to experience awful things such as rape, incest or a need for abortion, so of course I don’t see myself in a position to judge others for their decisions.
Just looking at the statistics for abortions in Finland in 2014, out of 9780 abortions 9011 were committed for social reasons. Other reasons were that the mother was under 17 years old (194 cases), or over 40 years old (275 years), deformations of the embryo (355 cases), or the mother having four or more kids already (220 cases). Only 69 cases were because of medical reasons, and as little as 8 cases were documented to be because of rape or incest.
The last mentioned cases constitute an own dark chapter that can hardly be spoken about by people who haven’t experienced such things, but I wish the “social” part could be discussed without it being taboo.
In Finland however, women who want to have an abortion are required to first have a discussion about it with a doctor, which isn’t required in Sweden or Denmark. This is thought to be one of the reasons why Finland percentually has only about half as many abortions as for instance Sweden. This I see as a positive thing.
So at the end, I don’t feel like Finland should drastically change its legislation on abortions. However; society could maybe give single mothers more support, especially financially. As long as children are mainly seen as a burden for a (single) woman’s career, it means that we are not living in an equal society.