Sarah Ivany @sjivany ?active 3 months, 4 weeks ago
Sarah Ivany wrote a new blog post: My Response to the Calgary Herald’s Editorial on Abortion 10 months, 2 weeks ago · View
My local newspaper, The Calgary Herald, ran this editorial by Susan Martinuk about abortion in the wake of Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s death: I felt compelled to respond. Here’s a copy of the response I sent to the Herald: “This moral indifference to the humanity of the unborn is now so entrenched in our society, that we [...]
My response to the Calgary Herald’s Editorial on Abortion
My local newspaper, The Calgary Herald, ran this editorial by Susan Martinuk about abortion in the wake of Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s death: http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/Martinuk+Morgentaler+gone+talk+about+abortion/8457640/story.html. I felt compelled to respond. Here’s what I had to say:
“This moral indifference to the humanity of the unborn is now so entrenched in our society, that we are now extending it to the newly born. Thank you, Henry Morgentaler.”
It amazes me that Martinuk so easily paints the women in these tragic anecdotes (which themselves represent a tiny fraction of very extreme incidences related to unintended pregnancies) with the same brush—as morally indifferent perpetrators of horrific violence. Yet she manages to turn a blind eye to the violence of being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term that is inflicted on women every day, both those women in her anecdotes and millions of others worldwide (whether through laws explicitly banning abortion, or because layer upon layer of restrictions—tabled and enacted primarily by men—have rendered abortion a financial and practical impossibility for many women).
What angers me most, though, is that this piece gives women absolutely no credit—without restrictions on abortion, we will go abortion-crazy; we will use abortion as our “preferred method of birth control”; we will all become completely indifferent to the well-being of newborns. Give me a break. I’m not sure if Martinuk has ever had an abortion (given the language in this piece it’s hard to imagine that she has). If she hasn’t, on behalf of the one in three North American women who have had an abortion, I’ll let her know that the decision to have an abortion is personal, often complicated, and situated within and informed by the unique life circumstances of each woman. It’s not an easy decision. It is not made lightly or flippantly. Research surrounding the reasons women give for having abortions (see here, for example: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html) indicate that this decision is most often underscored by an understanding of the immense responsibility of parenthood and infused with compassion, foresight, and, above all, humanity.
Martinuk wants us all to speak “like grown ups” about abortion. Fine. Great, even. A sphere of public conversation in which I could speak openly about my own abortion experience without being called a slut, murderer, or monster would be a welcome change indeed. In fact, I think it is necessary and overdue that the tone of our political and public conversations change drastically. We need to acknowledge that there is no singular abortion experience, and that women who choose to have abortions cannot be reduced to two-dimensional, “morally indifferent” caricatures. We need to be conscientious and sensitive in our choice of language when we talk about abortion, and recognize that the people we so easily brand as “callous,” “brutal,” or immoral based on incomplete knowledge about a single decision of theirs are humans—they are our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and friends. We need to be empathetic and inclusive and listen to the voices of those who have been historically shut out of this conversation—the voices of women who have had abortions. And, instead of heaping shame and stigma on those women, perhaps we can learn from their stories and focus our energies on addressing the root causes of unintended pregnancies. Dr. Morgentaler didn’t want silence. He was an advocate for compassion, respect, and empathy. In my opinion anyways, that is a very fine legacy indeed.