WORKING on this magazine has not been easy for Andy, one of our designers. He and his partner Karen are expecting their first baby, but his desk has been littered with condoms and his colleagues have been teasing him mercilessly. He was using them in a variety of ways - as you will see if you flick through the magazine - but obviously not for what they were intended. In addition, because Karen is a doctor she had been kindly supplying us with leaflets and details about the whole range of contraceptives.
'It seems a strange coincidence that I'm doing this particular magazine at just this point,' he said wryly.
Andy's baby will be the twenty-third child of the current NI co-op. So children can tend to dominate conversation in the office sometimes. But having your own children does not give you the prerogative on opinions or emotions. We are all children, even if we are not all parents, and most of us have strong feelings about reproduction.
The issue that stirs up the deepest passions and divides people most forcefully is abortion. In the US, anti-abortionists feel so strongly that they are prepared to kill physicians in order to prevent abortions. In Canada, several older doctors who administer abortions have been shot by snipers in an effort to intimidate younger ones from taking up the practice. On the other side, the pro-choice lobby believes just as deeply in 'a woman's right to choose'.
Even the word 'choice' is a loaded one, adopted by those in favour of abortion and spurned by those against.
This was not going to be an easy subject to cover. I decided that the best way in was through my own experience of pregnancy. Although this is obviously not something everyone will share, I hope it will ring bells for many people and raise issues for others.
By the time this magazine comes out Andy and Karen's baby will be almost due. They will enter the exhausting, muddled (but often joyous) world of parenthood. But at least Andy won't have to listen to any more jokes about condoms.
Nikki van der Gaag
for the New Internationalist Co-operative
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