I was sitting with some friends at a table covered with posters and pamphlets. It was Frosh week at the University of Toronto. Several blocks of tables like ours were enticing students to join the rowing club, the running club, gay pride, jazz dance, and so on. It was a sunny, windy day, and the streets were packed with people.
Since our table was advertising for a pro-life club, it was attracting some lively debates, some cold stares, and quite a bit of curiosity. One girl wandered over and read through some papers that were lying on the table.
“So are you guys against abortion or something?” She asked. My friend Sarah explained that the pro-life club was a human rights activist club that was trying to educate people about abortion and lobby for pro-life laws.
“What’s wrong with abortion?” She asked.
At last! Somebody who asked a straightforward question. We all jumped at the chance.
“Abortion kills a human being. Even though the fetus is very small, it is still alive, sensitive to pain, and desires, like all of us, to survive. It has a right to life, just like everyone else. Methods of abortion are incredibly brutal and painful. Ultrasound pictures show tiny embryo babies swimming away from the injections of salt, which slowly burn them..”
We hid no facts. We told her about dilation and currettage, the method of abortion which uses a knife-edged tube to slash and suck out the live baby. We showed her a picture of a live baby being dismembered.
She was disgusted. (Abortion is a disgusting thing.)
“But aren’t ‘pro-life’ people against women’s rights?” she asked. Again, a straight-forward, honest question. No agenda, just a question.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, especially with the founding of Planned Parenthood, abortion has been advertised as a woman’s right. It has been identified with other, legitimate rights, such as a woman’s right to be a legal citizen, to have higher education, to work outside the home, to vote, and to choose her career. “Abortion” has become a political word meaning “my right to control my reproduction.” This is very clever, because it gives a moral high-ground to the billion-dollar industry. And very convenient for men, who don’t have to suffer any consequences of either pregnancy or abortion.
While our visitor was convinced of abortion’s harmful effects on the fetus (a fesssw gruesome photos were sufficient), she was also a child of my own generation. She had been conditioned to believe that abortion was a “woman’s rights” issue. That is, she believed with blind faith that people who oppose abortion are also opposed to women.
Because abortion has been seen as a woman’s right, little attention has been paid to the effects of abortion on women. These effects, which physicians call “complications” or “side-effects,” have taken a generation or two to reveal themselves, but they are beginning to show their ugly head.
Abortion is linked to ovarian, liver, and endometrical cancer. In fact, studies show that the risk of breast cancer doubles with each abortion. Apparently, the hormonal disruption that occurs from abortion is so foreign and violent to the body that cancer cells proliferate in the affected areas.
There is also the hard, cold fact of accidents that happen during the abortion. The uterus is commonly punctured, the cervix can be scraped, and there are reports of women (up to 200, 000 women yearly) who suffer from physical complications such as hemmorages (abnormal bleeding), and infections of the cervix, uterus, and pelvic area.
So we explained to our visiting friend that, even if one can justify aborting the baby, it just isn’t worth it when you consider the physical effects on the mother.
However, our visitor said, doubtfully, “I don’t know. I heard that all pro-life people are against women.”
What an odd thing to say, I thought. Afterall, isn’t it the woman that suffers most (after the baby, of course) from the effects of abortion? We had just explained it.
I thought of the girls I know who have had abortions. They’re experience can’t just be described in statistics. It is not enough to say that “three percent of women suffer from cervical lacerations.” My friends experienced psychological agony, which can’t be measured. During an abortion, a woman is made to sit or lie down, with her legs strapped open, while she is physically violated by the procedure. She is told that she might experience “cramping,” but she is mot prepared for the contractions, worse than the worst menstrual cramps, as she goes into labour. She is not prepared for the flood of grief and guilt she experiences when she realises that she has given birth to a dead baby. It is no wonder that women who have had abortions tend to suffer from depression. They are ultimately victims of an unscrupulous industry.
If anything, I thought, it is abortionists who are against women.
Our visitor thanked us for our time, and we thanked her for stopping by. She took a pamphlet out of politeness, and we promised to come see her friends breakdance on the street-corner near Burgers.
“I still think that the pro-life is against women,”she said as she left.