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It's Jan 28th. Twenty years ago, Canada overturned its anti-abortion laws, and abortion is legal! Hurrah!

Here're some related readings (looks like it'll be updated a lot):
- Wiki article on Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the first doctor to open an abortion clinic and to speak openly about changing the laws. He performed illegal abortions and was prosecuted. Jan 28th celebrates the end of his state-sanctioned persecution and the birth of legal abortion in Canada.
- Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto abortion clinic has the tagline that inspired today's post title: "Every mother a willing mother, every child a wanted child". It also asks people to donate funds to help spread accessibility of abortion all over Canada. Dr. Morgentaler is working on opening abortion clinics in Canada's north.
- A Globe and Mail article on how much more Canada has to go in achieving its pro-choice ideals. It's got this fantastic quote from Madam Justice Bertha Wilson: "It is not just a medical decision. It is a profound social and ethical one as well. It asserts that a woman's capacity to reproduce is to be subject not to her control, but to that of the state." Realizing this injustice, since then women in Canada are now free to their reproductive rights without state interference.
- 10 Reasons to Support Reproductive Rights by Jill Fillipovic over at Feministe, written on "Roe Day", that is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in the States. There, you will also find the neat picture which inspired the title of this blog. I may put it in a sticky post, just 'cos.
- Article on Group News Blog on the new strategy of abortion: RU-486 which allows women to get an abortion directly from doctors without the hassle of passing through hordes of pickets screaming "ABORTION IS MURDER" at her... Mrs. Robinson mulls on the ramifications of anti-choicers who may not have public institutions to attack with the advent of this drug.

Among one of the most problematic areas of feminism has got to be abortion. In the States, there're states which allow it, and some which don't. In Canada, abortion is technically legal, but by and large inaccessible. In New Brunswick, you need to go through a bunch of hoops just to get an abortion - which basically means, your choice to abort is judged by a panel of doctors and they have to approve of your reasoning. In other places, getting abortions in time (during the first trimester) is difficult. In Malaysia, it's technically illegal, but I'm pretty sure some doctors do it on the side. Not necessarily bad doctors, but it's still illegal and therefore, no guarantee of safety.

Abortion is connected to another big issue: contraceptives. If you don't want a baby, use contraceptives. Or, if it all fails, abortion.

I cannot fathom the idea of abortion as birth control.... not REGULARLY anyway. I don't know much about abortion procedures, but it irks me that one would rob one's body of the potential for life as a method of birth control. I'm all for it - I just don't think people should rely SOLELY on abortion as birth control. I don't know anybody who thinks like this, but I'm sure some crazy person out there does.

But abortion should be a right - it should be an option. I honestly can't see why it should be illegal, or even morally wrong. A woman's body is her business. There's no reason to force a baby on her. I will probably hear from moral right-wingers, "but she deserves it for having sex outside of marriage". Fuck yourself. Pregnancy and the subsequent child should NEVER be a punishment for sexual agency.

I've never had an abortion. I've never known personally a woman who got an abortion. Most women I know who got preggers and was single, decided to keep their babies. Personally, I think it says something: if you're given the choice to have an abortion or keep the baby despite all the problems you'll face, and you keep the baby anyway, it says either you're an idiot who didn't take into consideration all factors regarding bringing up the child.... or you really, really wanted him/her.

Why am I so interested in the idea of choice?

Well. (It's a bit complicated).

My parents tried for two years to have me. Mmhmm. They had my brother, and after he turned two, they decided they were ready for their next child. It took two years to conceive me. I don't know why. Maybe they had sex only on certain days to guarantee a baby. Maybe they sometimes were too busy. I never quite made it a point to probe too deeply into their sex life.

So, for all my emo wangsting in the past about how I didn't feel loved and I was sure I was just a burden on my parents and bladibla, the fact remains: I was a wanted child.

Other factors also remain: my parents were ready financially, emotionally, and socially (being married and all) to have children. Their children are wanted children who grew up with good education, fairly solid family values, and a social network of family and friends. (We also had a kickass nanny.)

The thing that bugs me and makes me have, I don't know what it's properly called, the guilt of the privileged - is that. My position as a wanted child is a luxury.

And I think this luxury of being a wanted child should be every child's right.

Some of you must have come across families where they're poor, living in awful conditions, and everyone's squabbling and parents don't really care much for the children but don't know their options in not having more children (whether by contraceptives or whatever). And the children, not knowing any other path of life which could be better, which could be different, and not knowing how to attain it, do it too - have children before they're ready, resent the children for holding them back.

Sometimes you get families where the mother knows she can't have another child, because she already has two or three others to feed. But she's not allowed to get an abortion anyway.

Then there's the adoption system. I'm sure there're so many children in the orphanage system who just don't get adopted. They live in squalor and become maladjusted, and then get kicked out of the system when they turn legally old enough to work and take care of themselves.

Every child should be a wanted child.
Not a child conceived because his or her parents didn't know any better about contraceptives.
Not a child carried to term simply because his or her family couldn't find a doctor to perform an abortion.
Not a child whose parents kept him or her because they didn't want the stigma of abortion.
Not a child whose parents resent him or her for their lack of financial resources, lack of maturity, or the stigma of a child out of wedlock.
Not a child who is foisted off to other people because their parents didn't want children, weren't ready for a child.
Not a child left in an orphanage, bounced about from foster parents to foster parents.

When the law takes abortion away from women, the likelihood of these scenarios rise. Anti-choicers are always going "what about the babies?? Why're you killing babies??" Not many care about what happens to the babies AFTER they're born. Otherwise they'd lobby for better welfare, more resources for parents to take care of their children, better education programs.

Pro-choice, therefore, is pro-child.

Anyways. Enough about the resultant child. Back to the incubator of the baby, the person who has to carry the baby for nine months and deal with all the unpleasantness that comes with being preggers: the WOMAN.

Abortion should be a right, because only a woman knows what's best for her body and for her life. It's all very well for anti-choicers to moralize that she's being a baby-killer, but it's just as awful for a woman to undergo a pregnancy she doesn't WANT to go through, but is being FORCED to by the law.

Abortion should be accessible - it should be safe, legal, and regulated to ensure they're done right. And I don't mean, women should be screened to see if she's worthy of being given an abortion - that's stupid. But does she have the right to expect her doctor will take care of her? Yes. Does she have the right to expect to come out of the abortion procedure with her uterus intact? Yes. Does she have the right to be educated on risk factors to further her thoughts on her choice? Yes. Does she have the right to not die in a backalley? Yes.

Alongside abortion, contraceptives and counselling should be made available: because abortion is sometimes really difficult. Even if it's the right thing to do, it's still an invasive procedure, physically and psychologically. Women (and men!) deserve the right to be emphatized with and to be supported in the choice, whether or not have the abortion. Men very often don't get final say, and sometimes men, too, are affected by choices women make - that's why open communication and respect is so important between men and women on this issue.

Abortion should not be a public moral issue. The problem with a lot of anti-choicers is that, while they mean well, they're basically sticking their noses in where they don't belong. Your opinion should not factor into someone else's well-being unless they bloody ask. Seeing as you're not the woman in question, your public opinion doesn't bloody count for much.

The problem with denying a woman her reproductive rights is that it's pretty fucking paternalistic. It means that we, as a society, don't trust a woman to take care of herself. We infantlize women with our mistrust, and want to coddle them. As a result, a woman stops being a human being worthy of respect and dignity. And that's pretty damn anti-woman... which is anti-half of society.

There're a lot of things wrong with the state of abortion right now. But we should celebrate anyway. Here's an e-toast to Dr. Morgentaler and to all happy vaginas out there! An e-toast to women who had abortions and whose lives are better for it! An e-toast to children born out of their mother's CHOICE!

Hurray for Canada!


( 4 Words — Have Your Say )
Jan. 28th, 2008 08:57 am (UTC)

I'm pro-choice, simply 'cause I feel that as a woman, I believe I have the right to choose. As you know, I don't want kids and whilst I do take precautions (condom + pill), I know there is still a tiny risk that I CAN get pregnant. If that were to happen (and I hope it doesn't), I want to know that I can get rid of it. I don't want to be forced to have a child.
Feb. 1st, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
For the panel of doctors to 'approve an abortion'...while I can see why this is simply madness in some ways, (it is)

On the other side of the coin, however, there are some very real psychological ramifications from aborting a child that any doctor should take very seriously. In a way it's similar to sex change operations, plastic surgery, or any life-altering surgery you really need to be mentally prepared for, or even able to go through with. I've heard of women who suffer, not due to religious reasons, for a lifetime because they aborted a child. Yes, women should have a say in what happens to their body, but any woman(or man) who has suffered through addictions, the darkest depths of depression, or any rationality-altering experiences would admit, that in the moment, they probably made poor decisions, hasty ones, or ones they wish they had some coaching on. I strongly feel anyone seeking abortion shouldn't have to go through a panel of doctors, but, should have a psychological screening before, and counciling options open after. Like pro life...the option to abort should not be pushed on a woman, either, who needs to make a decision she feels is best, in the long term. This is for her mental as much as her economical and physical well being.

But, like any major life altering surgery, if doctor X won't give it to you, you can shop around until you find someone who will, really. Thus,the danger of such things. (Hell, go to China) Again, I've heard plenty of horror stories on the other side of the coin of boyfriends, fathers, hell, good friends, pressuring a woman to get an abortion. Forcing, sometimes. Bearing witness to a tearful teen watching in horror as her father signs her potential baby's life away makes a heart twist. Control by men on women exists on both sides of the debate, as much women using an abortion (or non abortion) as a means of blackmail and extortion on a partner exists equally.

All in all I'm pro choice (and a former American! No wonder I fled under the Bush Regime...)

I'll admit I am strongly against late term abortions (sorry...if you're that far along, pop the kid out, adopt them out. You're getting to a point where the baby can feel and experience pain and suffering. The thought of a child, even in the womb, knowing it is being vaccumed to death makes me shudder)

I am all for choice, but I also consider circumstances over the right to just wantonly decide to abort a being. I don't feel if you don't want to use contraceptives, that abortion should be plan A. I also feel third party intervention should be available. Let's admit it, as pure of intentions as both sides of the debate have, the ultimate truth is, the intentions of many people are less than.
Feb. 2nd, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
That's the beautiful thing about choice, isn't it? If you WANT to keep the child, then measures should be taken so resources are available to ensure enough resources for women who may not have them. If you want the choice to keep the child, then there are rights instituted for women to be protected from the people who would tell her otherwise. That's what "choice" is all about, not "pro-abortion". It never ceases to amaze me how the same people who're "pro-life" simply don't take into account the economics of keeping the babies after they're born.

Also, alongside abortion will definitely come abortion counseling; women who get alleyway abortions don't get that kind of counseling. Just like how with pregnancy and birth come those who exist to ensure the physical and psychological needs of all involved are taken care of.

The problem with "shopping around" is that there are few enough places to have abortions anyway. "Shopping around" is only a worthwhile activity if you can afford to take time off to go wherever it is you need to go... if you have to travel to the other side of the continent just to get an abortion, you're either way privileged, or going to be dead-broke when you get back. I can't stand that. Abortion should be accessible (and no, abortion isn't a good reason to go to China... I hear it's APPALLING there), and before abortion, contraceptives and sex education. I also can't stand this whole pro-life, pro-abstinence-only argument that the one thing people should be doing anyway is to sort of ignore their bodies "until the right time".

As for intentions, that's why I tend to frame my arguments around the individual ego, rather than around whatever high ideals may be involved.
Feb. 6th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
Just found you blog and thought it is excellent. Two thumbs up!
( 4 Words — Have Your Say )