According to a recent poll conducted by Angus Reid, Canadians are divided on the need for abortion laws in this country. This is not a new revelation; polls taken over the past number of years have shown similar results. There will always be slight changes in the percentages of Canadians who are either for or against laws restricting abortion and the latest numbers show a slight increase in those of us who have a desire for these laws.
Whatever one’s view on the implementation of abortion laws, we are missing an important aspect of the debate by neglecting to take into account a woman’s right to carry her child to birth. Debate on abortion predominantly takes place within a paradigm based on personal autonomy and the right to choose what one wishes to do with her body. Those who attempt to challenge the status quo are quickly marginalized, often by means of ridiculous statements. For example, I recently posted a link to an article by former Liberal MP Bernie Collins in which he questions Justin Trudeau’s pro-choice edict. Almost immediately it was responded to by numerous self-proclaimed ‘pro-abortion feminists’ (and some men who are welcomed to any debate on abortion so long as they support totally unfettered abortion) who proclaimed, “If you’re #prolife you’re antiwoman [sic].” I realize it may take more than 140 characters to fully articulate one’s worldview, but this oft-repeated yet false dichotomy is not conducive to informed debate on a serious issue involving real women and the irreversible decisions they make.
Women make up the majority of pro-life activists. For many of them the reason they oppose abortion is because they stand for women’s rights. This false dichotomy between a woman’s rights and the foetus’s right to life is resulting in tragic consequences for the very women abortion advocates purport to defend.
To be clear, I believe Canada’s position as the only Western nation without an abortion law is wrong primarily because it affords no legal protection whatsoever to children before birth. But this legal vacuum is also wrong because it is a travesty against women. An acquaintance who works in a pregnancy care centre told me that when women come to their centre, the majority lay out the horrible ultimatum they face: abort their child (which they usually don’t want to do), or be abandoned, deserted and disowned by their parents and boyfriends. It was a chilling testimony that is all too often a reality for pregnant women.
The challenges facing a single mother disowned by the people she loves most are incredible. The false dichotomy presented to her is a result of a perversion of true feminism, one that promulgates abortion as the one and only foundation for women’s rights. Vulnerable women are led to believe that there actually is no choice whatsoever.
This understanding of “women’s rights” is nothing more than an abdication by fathers, families and communities of all responsibility toward young mothers and their children. As a pro-life feminist once said, “A woman wants an abortion like an animal caught in a trap wants to chew its leg off.” A woman should have the right to carry her child.
It’s time that we gained a deeper, more compassionate understanding of the term “women’s rights”. The current view is a politics of false mercy: ‘We can’t help you raise your child, but we can kill it for you.’ This is not the Canada anyone should want to live in.