[This is an expanded version of the letter to the editor published in The Ontarion]
As a woman, I always find it strange when I’m accused of hating women and wanting to rob them of their rights. Of course I don’t, but sometimes the actions I take and the opinions I present warrant that very accusation from others. Such as two Wednesdays ago. I’m part of the campus club LifeChoice, the the group of students who organized the flag display that got some students raging. Each flag represented 10 abortions, tallying up to the 100,000 that are performed each year in our country. It was a display that no one could ignore, and it presented a point of view that many didn’t agree with.
I assure you I don’t enjoy being hated, and I don’t enjoy doing things that make people angry. I couldn’t count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve been told that I’m a terrible human being and should be ashamed of myself– somehow being pro-life does that to you.
Many people in support of abortion define ‘pro-life’ individuals as being ‘anti-woman’s rights,’ ‘anti-choice,’ or ‘forced-birthers’ (a new term I just heard), but let me make this clear: I’m all for human rights, I love choices, and I don’t believe in forcing people to do something they don’t want to do. What being pro-life means is this: believing that all humans should get human rights, regardless of their age, level of development, ability or disability, gender, race, or sexual orientation, and these fundamental rights include the right to make our own choices; but yet, these choices must always take into consideration the harm they may bring to other human beings.
Simply put, here’s why we did what we did: Science tells us a human fetus is a human being (the law of biogenesis proves that the offspring of two humans can be nothing but human); most people are in agreement that all human beings have human rights; abortion ends a human life, thus violating a human’s right to life; and in Canada there is no legal protection for a human fetus at any point during the 9 months of pregnancy. There is a class of Canadian citizens, the youngest ones not yet born, who are not being protected by law. Because of this,100,000 innocent human beings are legally killed each year in Canada. If 100,000 Canadians were killed each year because of their gender, race, age, or sexual orientation, I’d sincerely hope there’d be an uproar, a group of people fighting for them, large displays imploring others to not ignore their plight…
Making the statement that pre-born children should have their human rights recognized does not translate to “women shouldn’t have rights and those who have abortions are evil.” Yes, we acknowledge that abortion is a complicated issue, and making it illegal is not going to solve the problems women experience when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. One thing that almost all pro-choicers and pro-lifers agree on it this: no woman wants to have an abortion. Abortion isn’t a pleasant procedure, and very often it leaves women dealing with a lot of pain and trauma. Of all the post-abortive women I’ve met and talked to, I’ve never met someone who experienced full relief and no regret. If women don’t want abortions, and abortions also hurt women, and every year 100,000 women go through this, can’t pro-lifers and pro-choicers agree that there’s a problem here?
As a club we were making the point that abortion violates a human being’s human right to life, and if no woman actually wants an abortion, don’t both mother and child deserve better? Instead of Canada disregarding a woman’s struggles by simply providing her with a quick way to eliminate her child, can’t our country start providing the support that a woman needs to give her child life while not having to sacrifice her education or well-being?
I understand that an unplanned pregnancy during a time such as university would be unbelievably hard. I’m not saying a student who has an abortion did an inconceivable thing. Honestly, I understand. Maybe abortion seems like the only choice, but our club wants women to know that it’s not. There ARE options, and there ARE people who will help a woman make the right choice. For the sake of her child, there is a right choice. Sometimes the right choices are the hardest ones. A woman who goes through with an unplanned pregnancy has to be incredibly brave, strong, and has to put up with a lot of challenges; however, all of us have mothers who went through that for us. As a club we’re asking women to consider the hard choice, but know that there is support available.
For the women who have had abortions and for whom the choice has already been made—we don’t hate you nor do we want to shame you. I feel for how hard that choice must have been for you. Too many women are making the choice for the wrong reasons (i.e.. fear, lack of financial support, pressure from those around them etc.); and women deserve better options and support. The display showed the consequences of a society that does not provide this support to women; I know that seeing this reality can trigger feelings for those who have personally experienced abortion. We cannot change to past for these women; however, we hope to raise awareness and work for a better future for the youngest Canadians and their mothers – a future where both are fully supported in their right to life.
So yes, our display led to a lot of outrage and false judgments about our club. I do find it frustrating that a display that says “100,000 human beings lose their lives each year” was translated into “Let’s throw women in jail!” and “Let’s force desperate women to resort to coat hangers.” Those students who actually had a conversation with us that day hopefully came to realize that that’s not what we were saying, but many others didn’t and instead they misjudged us. Regardless of the responses, we don’t regret what we did. It was an important message of the point of view that quite often isn’t welcomed to speak out. It’s the point of view that speaks out for the rights of vulnerable humans who can’t yet speak, while reaching out to help (and not hate!) their mothers who feel desperate enough to make life-ending choices. Does our point of view not have a right to be expressed?