Canada’s abortion debate re-opened

We all knew the motion was destined to fail.

M312, the innocuously named motion to appoint a committee to determine the moment life begins, en route to subversively reassess abortion access never actually stood a chance. In fact, the only surprise in what’s being called the “abortion vote” was the Minister for the Status of Women’s vote for it. It’s hard to say how many people knew the name Rona Ambrose before the vote, or even how many people knew that we have a minister for the status of women, but as of Sept. 30, 9,988 people had signed the petition calling for her resignation.

“It is a sad day for Canada that a majority of MPs were afraid to examine the science of preborn life,” said Jim Hughes, president of the Campaign Life Coalition, in a press release.

“What are they afraid of? These anti-debate extremists have wrapped themselves in a strident pro-abortion ideology that requires them to avoid any discussion or debate on matters that properly are the domain of Parliament.”

Let’s all take a moment to digest that.

Much fuss has been made of whether or not MPs voted with their conscience or according to party lines. First, let us remember that we are the farthest thing from a bi-partisan system, and as such it seems to me that every MP ought be committed to a party that reflects their fundamental ideals, of which this is one. Secondly, taking a headcount in the vote breakdown, we find 11% of the Liberal caucus voting for it, clearly crossing the floor. The only women who voted for the motion were conservative, which makes sense.

But regardless of voting with your heart (which I stand by), one should also be willing to stand by their vote to the point where they can lie in the bed they have made. Ambrose is supposed to empower and protect women, and I feel sincerely that the majority of women were not represented by her vote, nor do they feel it makes her fit to raise and further the status of women in this country. As such, she should take her medicine and vacate.

Pro M312ers are quick to point out that the question wasn’t about abortion, but rather the moment life begins. I asked my bestie Ashly Rodrigues her thoughts on that. A married, God-loving, self-employed, mother of one (so far), she chose to terminate two pregnancies in her teens. She says that to her, life begins when the heart starts beating. That’s about five or six weeks after conception, or right about the time a whole lot of ladies find out they’re pregnant. That opinion didn’t change her choice.

At the time of her abortions, when she was 17 and 19, she knew that she wasn’t emotionally capable of bringing a child to term and putting them up for adoption. At the same time, she knew she couldn’t give a tiny human all that they deserved. Abortion is the option when there are no more options. It’s not a backup plan as the CLC, and so many like-minded groups would have us believe, it’s a last-ditch sacrifice for all involved. In fact, the insinuation that
women are using our abortion laws as a net for carefree living, akin to carrying flats in your purse, demeans both the decision and the physical process.

“It’s an awful experience; painful and awful. Forget the morals, it’s a surgical procedure,” Ashly said.  When I ask her about the theory of abortion as back up birth control, she says she simply can’t fathom the woman who would put herself through that on purpose.

The women who have abortions have no question as to when life begins, but what they do have is a difficult choices. Are we aiming to add a further burden of guilt to their heavy plates, or are we just in the need for a little ideological debate to spice things up while the Americans have a whole election to play with? Is anyone out there actually losing sleep over what the government deems as the moment life begins? Or is this one of those personal, existential things that the courts are supposed to stay out of? I think it’s fair to say that the women who oppose abortions will choose to never have them. That’s the beauty of our system, no committee or question required. If nothing else, Ambrose ought resign for voting for futility. M312 called for a committee on navel gazing, and a proper minister for the status of the women I know would have called it out for the backdoor sham that it was.

With hindsight being what it is, I ask Ashly if she would do it differently if she could go back, and she says emphatically that she absolutely wouldn’t. It’s all about the quality of life she could provide for the child. In fact, during her pregnancy, her doctor suggested they could skip the amniocentesis if they knew they wouldn’t consider abortion regardless of the results.  She and her husband discussed it, and went ahead with the test, knowing that if they had a child with special needs, they wouldn’t be able to afford and provide adequate care. She admits that had they been independently wealthy their decision may have been different. “But it wasn’t about me; it was about what my child wouldn’t have had.”

For more info on when life begins, The Mayo Clinic has it on lockdown. I don’t know about you, but I trust doctors over politicians on stuff like that anyhow.

For more of me on this, check what I said back in February, here.

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