Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
January 16, 2006
Give women 'informed choice'
Canada is now concluding yet another federal election campaign in which no major federal party will discuss the killing of more than 100,000 unborn children a year through abortion. Politicians fear - rightly so, it seems - that they will be pilloried and their election hopes evaporate even if they speak about abortion in a positive spirit.
For the sake of both the children and the women having abortions, this issue needs to be brought down from the shelf. Doing so should not be impossible.
Polls are pretty clear in showing that only a small minority of Canadians favour making abortion illegal. However, they are also clear in showing that most Canadians are opposed to abortion being used as birth control and opposed to late-term abortions.
Canadians may be pro-choice, but they are also pro-life. They are unclear about the point at which a fetus becomes a person. They do not want women to have to suffer for the rest of their lives for "the mistake" of getting pregnant. But they also want to honour the dignity and the life of the unborn child.
This ambiguous reality does not draw much public discussion perhaps because it tends to muddy the water of an issue that makes many people uncomfortable. Better to divide the world into good guys (tolerant pro-choicers) and bad guys (intolerant pro-lifers) and put the issue on the shelf.
The shelf is where the issue seems destined to stay until the public can be gently brought to face the full consequences of abortion.
Perhaps that will come when a harder look is taken at the choice women are making to have an abortion. Sometimes, it is no choice at all, but rather a decision forced on them by parents or boyfriends. Sometimes it is a limited choice - one limited by the fear. Fear of having a child at too young an age; fear of what others will think; fear of having to abandon one's education to raise a child alone in poverty.
Perhaps the break will come when society realizes that this "choice" made out of coercion or fear was not an informed choice. The woman may have "chosen," but no one told her of the medical or mental health consequences of her decision. No one told her she was more likely to get cancer later in life or to never have children. No one told her this quick solution to her fear would leave her emotionally scarred for life, twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to become dependent on illicit drugs.
This information comes from a recent New Zealand study of 1,265 children tracked since birth in the 1970s. The emotional problems and substance abuse of those who had abortions came after the abortions, not prior to them.
There is a paucity of research on the effects of abortion on women. It is as though we don't want to know what happens to them. Women are allowed, encouraged or even forced to make this choice and then they are abandoned. Sometimes there is a severe cost to that abandonment.
If Canada wants to make women's "choice" paramount, it has a duty to help those women make an informed choice. Make sure that when they have an abortion they know what it will do to their bodies and to their minds. If we don't know, find out.
Make sure they also know what it is that is being removed from their bodies. Is this a person or is it a blob of tissue? Give them the evidence before they decide.
If they decide they do not want to have an abortion, make sure they get all the support possible to have a healthy pregnancy and to give their children the best start in life. If they decide to go ahead with the abortion, do not abandon them. Do whatever is needed to prevent their abortion experience from developing into disease or mental illness.
For all these things to happen, we cannot do without politicians courageous enough to face the scorn of the media. Abortion is having a massive, largely unrecorded effect on Canada. That effect will not go away by turning a blind eye.
- Glen Argan
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