- by Diane Ferguson

I originally wrote a comment in response to Shea Angus’ thoughtful piece on the complexities of the abortion debate. His piece was written from the perspective of an adoptee’s son. I wanted to add to the conversation as I too have struggled with the abortion debate, both as an adoptee (1965) and as a woman. I have since edited to include more information.

For many years I was ambivalent about the abortion debate. If abortion existed, would I?

For that reason, I was against abortion for myself, however, I knew that I would never truly know that answer unless I was put in a position where I might have to make a choice. Thankfully, I never was.

Since then, I've grown as a person and had two kids of my own, in my own timing. From a spiritual perspective, I'm extremely pro-life, not even eating animals. I try to always maintain a position of not harming others. Even though I was older and pregnant, I didn’t bother with an amniocentesis. Again, not thinking that I would have an abortion.

Now, I’m well past the age of ever needing an abortion, but I have listened intently to the arguments as the abortion debate has become more active again and will continue to be with the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

And I’ve come out firmly on the side of pro-choice. I would have described myself as pro-choice before, but I would’ve still had some doubt. But I have learned so much about how others suffer. One in three girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 25. Most will be raped by someone they know.

The situation is even more dire In the US as 44 states allow child marriage. Some girls are forced to marry their rapist. Since I originally wrote this last week, a story has come out of a 10 year old having to cross state lines to get an abortion. Girls are getting their periods younger and younger; yet there is a fight against teaching reproductive health in schools.

These young women are having their futures decided by their rapists. For others, mistakes will happen as they always have. Some, just because a boy doesn’t like to wear a condom. The reality is, women will continue to seek out abortion, whether or not it’s legal. Some girls will be killed by their boyfriends in a country with greater access to guns than abortions. Not all young men will be in a position to raise a child.

And in the US, it’s an even greater burden to have a child. It costs money just to give birth in a hospital and there is no standard for maternity leave. (American women already suffer some of the worst birth outcomes in the western world.) Some women are lucky to get two weeks off work after birth. And then what? With few social supports, a lack of access to affordable childcare, and some having to drop out of school; these women are condemned to a life of servitude. A women's ability to determine what happens to her body is fundamentally part of her choice for freedom.
And then there are the health concerns. Some women NEED abortions: Ectopic pregnancies, where the baby forms outside the uterus; when a baby dies in the womb and needs to be removed or the mother may die as well, extreme health issues where the baby has no chance of survival. Women will die out without access to the healthcare they need.

There are also women in countries with abortion laws, jailed for having a miscarriage. Depending on age, almost one third of pregnancies end in miscarriage. This is a traumatic experience for a women already, but to be questioned or charged as if it was intention, would put women further at risk.

I grew up in the 70’s with the belief that women were finally equal. (I was idealistic.) Women had access to birth control and were able to get an education and a well-paying job. There are forces in the US also trying to limit a woman’s access to birth control. And of course, what ten year old is on the pill?

I don’t think anyone supports abortion of a healthy baby in the third trimester—unless there was some absolute medical necessity. (In most cases, at that term, I’m sure there’d be an emergency c-section.) But I am not a doctor. There are many nuances to the abortion debate, but this is a decision not to be based on my moral compass, or yours. It is a decision that a women should be making with her healthcare provider.

As an adoptee, I would rather not have been born, than be forced to be born. I would choose a woman’s freedom over my own right-to-life. I was always thankful I was adopted, knowing that to grow up in a loving and financially secure home was far better than to be unwanted. (BTW, still unwanted. My birth mother definitely didn’t knit me a scarf.)

The bottom line is, the rules around abortion are not about “the right to life”, but about the ability to control women. In Canada, women enjoy much more freedom than our US sisters. We have access to: universal healthcare, subsidized maternity leave, and now subsidized childcare. These are all programs enacted by Liberal-led governments. Liberals and NDP continue to do the work that supports women in Canada. Much like Republicans in America, Conservatives in Canada are trying to roll-back our rights, including access to abortion.

I appreciate everyone’s moral right to their own decision on abortion. I don’t think I would’ve ever had one, but I’ll never know. However, we are not a country ruled by my spiritual compass, or yours. The issue of abortion is an issue of both physical and mental healthcare for women. To deny women access to healthcare is to deny a woman her fundamental rights to liberty.




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