Well, this is what it’s come to.
The fact that I even feel the need to write this post is so far beyond anything I ever thought I’d have to do. Call me naive. Call me ignorant. Call me silly. But I truly thought we had reached a point in Canadian and American humanity where things like abortions simply fell under basic human rights. Not women’s rights. HUMAN rights.
Because, you know, women ARE human.
So, why is this post happening? Because south of home to me, some American states are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade.
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically the American version of Canada’s R. v. Morgentaler. A quick Google search is all you need to get up to speed. But just in case that’s a bit too much work, I’ve gone ahead and pasted the gist of it below from Wikipedia:
Roe v. Wade, (1973), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
As you may have heard, the Republican-controlled state of Alabama has recently passed a bill that would ban abortions — unless the mother’s life is in jeopardy — without any other exception. And now, several other states are following.
Without any other exception. Let that sink in for a minute.
That means that this law would make it illegal for a woman, any woman, to have an abortion after a case of rape or incest. If that alone doesn’t turn your stomach, think of it this way: That means your wife. Your daughter. Your sister. Your mother. Any and every other female member of your family or friends. In the U.S., 1 in 5 of those women will experience some form of sexual assault. In Canada, it’s 1 in 3.
I’m a Canadian woman, and I have two daughters. I don’t like those odds. How about you?
It also means that women who suffer from a miscarriage would be subject to a criminal investigation. Yep. It also means that those same women could end up in jail. Oh yes. It also means that even if you’re super pro-life and want to keep your baby but happen to have a miscarriage as 1 in 4 women do, you would still be investigated before you even have time to grieve. Uh-huh!
And if you think, “Oh, it won’t happen to me!”, let me tell you something: You’re not immune to miscarriage. You’re not immune to rape. No person is. Not one single human who has been raped knew it was going to happen to them. They didn’t wake up one day and go, “Ah, today’s the big day!”
So take off your blinders. Have some goddamn self respect. Take a good look at yourself and stop thinking you don’t count. Because you do to a rapist!
But this post isn’t about rape or incest. It’s about ABORTION.
You may be wondering why this topic matters so much to me. I live in Canada and all this nonsense is happening on the other side of the border. It doesn’t even affect me.
WRONG! Everything, everything the U.S. does affects me. They’re our neighbours! And you know what neighbours do, right? They peek over their little white picket fences and take note of what’s going on next door. Hm, they say. Look, Janice! Tom’s got a lovely little anti-abortion law going on at his place. I think we should get one too!
Canadians are not safe right now.
Just like the U.S., we have anti-abortion lobbyists all over the place. We’ve got protesters, marching in front of Parliament Hill, wearing their gross little posters and wailing about killing babies. With the U.S. taking steps to bring back the olden days, well, Canadian so-called “pro-lifers” feel more empowered. Their voices are getting louder.
The only reason we have any of the rights we do today is because somewhere at sometime, more people spoke up for it than those who spoke against it.
What does this tell you about our abortion rights? What happens when our pro-life activists here start speaking louder than those who are pro-choice? Think about this in the coming elections, Canadians. Think about what you really believe in and whose voice you actually want to empower.
We need to start changing the dialogue
One particular thing that has really struck me in all this, are those pro-choicers who balance carefully and politely on the fence. The ones who say things like, “You don’t have to think abortions are okaaay, just don’t take away a woman’s right to choose one for herself”, and my personal favorite, “Well, I would never have an abortion myself, but I believe other women should have the choice.”
First of all, it’s so great that you know for a fact you wouldn’t choose an abortion for yourself.
Second of all, HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAaaaaaaaaa…..
Sorry. But seriously? Unless you’ve actually faced an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, you have no clue what you would really do. NO CLUE.
How do I know this? Well, because I used to be just like you. I used to say that it was okay for other women to have an abortion, but I would never have one.
That is, until I had an abortion.
Let me tell you, it’s not easy to speak publically about this, nor do I really want to share my story. I don’t particularly feel it’s anyone’s business, frankly. But with everything that’s happening, I really feel I have to. Not for my own sake, but for the women and girls out there facing the same thing I faced—and so much worse. Because I so strongly believe that it’s time we change how we talk about it, and remove the stigma attached to abortions.
I grew up in central Canada, raised by good, Catholic parents. Middle class folk, were we. Educated. Taught to be kind to thy neighbour. Taught that everyone bleeds red. I was fortunate that my parents were fairly open-minded. Was my dad cool with me wanting to dye my hair yellow and wear black lipstick? Hell no! But if I ever came home knocked up, I knew he’d be there for me. It never had to be said out loud. It was just the way it was.
I survived my teenage years without that actually happening. But it wasn’t because I was chaste. It was because I was lucky. I had access to free birth control, and managed to beat the odds of it—and condoms—failing. And when they started to charge for birth control at the clinic I went to, I luckily had a part-time job to pay for it.
Was I irresponsible for having sex? Not any more or less than my boyfriends were. And if I happened to get pregnant, well, I’d be a mom with my parents’ help. Because I never, never would’ve had an abortion.
Then came my early twenties. I was still on birth control. I took it every day. I was in a year-long relationship with a guy I thought was pretty great. And when my period was late and we drove to the walk-in for a test, I still thought I had it all figured out.
Well. When that test came back positive, things changed pretty quickly.
That guy who I thought was pretty great? He told me he’d leave me if I kept the baby. He said he’d have no part in it, and that if I went through with it, I’d be a single mom forever. He panicked. He said whatever he could to make sure it didn’t happen.
I had a full time job. I was healthy. I had a home. I had family, who despite whatever, would’ve supported me.
But I didn’t want a baby. Not like that. Not with the very thought of its existence sending its father running for the hills. Not with only a few dollars in the bank. Not with bills piling up. Not when I could barely provide for myself, let alone a baby. I wasn’t ready.
I won’t really go into my struggle to make the decision. It’s very personal. All I will say, is that it didn’t come easy. I had every single doubt. I weighed my options very carefully. I talked to close friends and family, people I trusted. I considered adoption. I considered keeping it. I had support. I faced judgement.
Trust me when I say women don’t have abortions for fun. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s not the easy way out. They’re painful and terrifying and hard.
Also, trust me when I say that women aren’t using abortions as actual ‘birth control’, whatever you may have heard. Women who have faced several abortion clinics aren’t doing it because they love it so much and just can’t get enough of them. Abortions aren’t tattoos!
Look at those women. Really, really look at them. Do you think they are the women who have access to, or even KNOW about the resources that may or may not be available to them? Could they even afford it if not? Are they in a position to understand it all? Are they emotionally or mentally healthy? Do they have a healthy home life? Are they educated?
You know the answer to that question is likely a resounding no.
If everyone (not just women) had access to birth control, condoms, proper sex education, proper consent education, regular education, etc…there’d be less abortions. There’d be less pregnancies. The few women who are abusing the privilege of having abortions are not part of the norm. Some abuse it, yes. Some.
Did I abuse it? Did that rape victim abuse it? Did your best friend abuse it? Did that twelve year old girl who was molested and raped by her uncle abuse it?
So don’t say you would never do it yourself, because you don’t really know. You don’t.
Imagine you were raped. Imagine that awesome boyfriend you love so much starts hitting you, or simply abandons you. Imagine you got pregnant and you realize you have absolutely no means to provide for that child.
Imagine it’s not you. Imagine it’s your teenage daughter. Imagine it’s your sister. Imagine it’s your mom, cousin, best friend, neighbour. Would you really tell that person you love, “Well, I would never myself, but whatever, it’s your choice” ?
It’s time to change the way we speak to others and ourselves about abortion! It’s time that we, when faced with the question about our beliefs, stop saying, “Well, I wouldn’t, but…”
It’s time to stand up and say, “I’m pro-choice because it is my/your/our fundamental right!” Period. End of story. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Stop perpetuating the stigma. Stop shaming good, kind, thoughtful women who happen to find themselves in a bad situation. And really, if you do know that come hell or high water you’d never have one, truly, that’s great. But you don’t need to include that in your pro-choice speech. Mmkay?
I am grateful I had the choice. I am grateful my country currently allows other women to have that choice. But now, that choice is in jeopardy and we all need to SPEAK UP! Let Canada know we are not okay with what’s going on in the U.S. right now. DON’T vote for the people who would overturn our own laws, given the chance. Don’t be quiet!
Some fun facts
- These are the people who voted for the abortion ban in America. Notice anything? All men. Not one woman.
- The proposed sentence for abortion after rape is up to 99 years in prison. That’s more than 18 times the average sentence served for the rape itself.
- Some states have signed a “fetal heartbeat” law, banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as 6 weeks gestation — earlier than some women even know they are pregnant.
- Banning abortions will not END abortions. It will only end SAFE abortions. Coat hanger, anyone? No, but seriously that’s actually what will happen.
- Alabama state Sen. Clyde Chambliss, the guy who wrote the restrictive bill to ban almost all abortions, was quoted saying the following:
“I’m not trained medically, so I don’t know the proper medical terminology and timelines”
“I don’t know if I’m smart enough to be pregnant.”
Hmm…Then perhaps he’s not qualified to write such bills? Just a thought.
And when asked if a victim of incest or rape could get an abortion, he responded:
“Yes, until she knows she’s pregnant.”
Wait. What? So, a woman could have an abortion…so long as she doesn’t know she’s actually pregnant? How does that even make sense? “Hey, Doc! Just here for my routine, Monday morning Just-In-Case-I’m-Pregnant Abortion!”
And what about those fertilized eggs in fertility clinics? Life begins at conception, so they keep trying to say. Surely a pro-lifer such as Chambliss would take issue with those clinics routinely destroying all those would-be babies? Nope!
“The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”
So…This has nothing to do with being pro-life. This has everything to do with controling what a woman does with her body. Got it.
And are there plans to provide free birth control and condoms to women and men? Better sex and health education? Or free healthcare? Reasonable maternity leave? Stricter child support laws? More funding for adoption agencies?
Nope! Again, this isn’t about being pro-life. If it was, all of the above would be addressed.
All these men who voted for this bill, their wives, daughters, mistresses will all have access to abortions as long as they have the money to fly them wherever they need to go to get one. (But in secret of course. Because it’s shameful.) This law will only really apply to “those other people”. You know…The poor.
So lets join together. Not just as pro-choicers, but as a force that puts an end to the stigma. Say it with me: “It’s. Our. Fundamental. Right! Period!”
Oh, by the way, I went on to have another unplanned pregnancy a few years later, with a man I would later call my husband. I was on the pill. Again. (seriously, though, what’s up with that?)
I made a different choice the second time around. Not because I was ashamed of my first choice. Not because I regretted it. Not because I was forced to keep this one.
But simply because it was MY choice.
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