There’s a reason why I link to The Dawn Patrol on this site-she posts good stuff. Today’s meandering exegesis examines all the bad things that have happened to her lately and how…they actually worked for good. A reminder: There is no conspiracy. Bad things happen to good people. And the trucks that repeatedly splashed slush all over my new black pants on the way to work did not do so purposefully.
The U.K. will allow men with multiple wives to claim multiple benefits. Read all about it, here. The “Have your say” question asks this: “Should multiple wives get recognition from the state?” Er, how about “Should men have multiple wives?”
Then again, any criticism is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, in a way.
If I were Garson Romalis, I would want to make a really strong case for why dismembering 18-week-old babies isn’t wrong. He does it, here. I was going to transcribe this talk because I heard it live.
What struck me when I heard him was his tone of condescending superiority: His is the only speciality, he says, where women say “Thank you for what you do.” Excuse me? Really? Ever seen someone suffering from cancer and seen a doctor do all he could to save her? Ever seen a psychiatrist visiting patients on Christmas Eve, when he himself should be home with his family? Ever witnessed a family doc squeeze an extra patient in his day, because a patient called in desperate pain and needed to be checked out?
All Romalis knows is abortion. Instead of helping women, he puts them under the knife and sends them packing into the great silent beyond. For his two heart-wrenching anecdotes of women suffering, there are thousands more suffering today, the direct result of his actions. Only he doesn’t speak for them. Who does, is the question, really. Who does?
Just an FYI: I will be on the Tommy Schnurmacher Show at ten am EST today.
Here’s part one:
Still don’t believe me when I say elite opinion in Canada is pro-choice? Here, we read about a federal bureaucracy that can’t tell the difference between abortion and miscarriage. Come one, come all–maternity benefits for everyone! This has to be a bad day in the employment insurance office… who allowed this policy to stand?
Rebecca adds: I suspect that maternity benefits for women who have late term abortions come from a decision to extend benefits to women who have a stillbirth, which is in itself a fine decision. (Anyone dealing with the physical and mental anguish of losing a baby late in pregnancy should have some help from EI, whether or not it’s provided as maternity leave.) This reflects something that has long puzzled me about modern feminism: the denial of women’s capacity to make educated, responsible choices about their own lives, in other words to be fully enfranchised adults.
The difference of course between losing a baby in the third trimester to stillbirth and aborting a third trimester pregnancy is that one represents a choice made by the mother. Shaping EI policy to ignore this choice is very bizarre. This reminds me of the cries of protest that arise whenever it is suggested that assault that causes a pregnant woman to miscarry be treated as two crimes, the assault against the mother and the homicide of the baby. If such a law is passed, we are told, then women who get abortions will be charged with murder!
Well, no. It is easy to differentiate between the termination of a pregnancy by a medical procedure to which the mother consents (often arguing that without an abortion she will suffer great mental anguish) and the termination of a pregnancy by a criminal assault on a woman, that itself causes her anguish. Why the reluctance to look at the choices made by women, what motivates these choices, and what the consequences are? Isn’t it really infantilizing to strip women of their agency in this way, to pretend that an abortion is for all intents and purposes the same as a stillbirth, that an assault that causes a woman to lose a baby is essentially the same as any other miscarriage?
As for me, I think it’s tragic whenever a pregnancy doesn’t ultimately result in a healthy baby. But not all tragedies are the same. It’s always dreadful when a building burns down, but a chance electrical fire is not the same thing as arson, and it would be madness to make policy as if there were no difference between the two.
Sorry about the delay on this. Here are my thoughts about the Morgentaler and the law conference I attended on Friday last week.
Toronto-January 25, 2008: Henry Morgentaler is a frail old man, who walks with some difficulty and needs help on stairs. He sat at the front of a lecture hall at the University of Toronto’s prestigious law school – some 200 students, doctors, activists and lay people in the audience. The average age was probably mid to late 20s, though there were also a fair number of grey heads in the crowd.
Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation opened the event, with the dean of the University of Toronto’s law school, Mayo Moran, looking on. Saporta lauded the efforts of Morgentaler (and gave him a hug) but remained concerned about further anti-choice action, and limits on access.
And access became the most common thread of discussion for many of the speakers: Abortion should be “available, accessible and acceptable” (Joanna Erdman’s phrase, UofT faculty of law). After Saporta, Colleen Flood, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy introduced Morgentaler.
And so a standing ovation later, the man himself rose to speak. Morgentaler’s voice was weak; the words predictable. He is proud of his efforts. “I believe the world is a kinder, gentler place because women have the right to make choices,” he said. His work
marks a milestone in the emancipation of women…
After he was done, another standing ovation – pro-choicers herald the presence of Morgentaler as if it was 1950 and Elvis Presley were in the building – it’s all weak knees and breathy excitement merely to be near him.
The morning was devoted largely to… you guessed it – access. Lorraine Weinrib, faculty of law at the University of Toronto, mused about how doctors are protected from performing or referring for abortions. “How did it come to be about protection for doctors, not women,” she asked. She also spoke about how the Morgentaler decision was the first time that she heard the sentiment expressed publicly that
women have lives, women have jobs, women have aspirations that are more important than an unwanted pregnancy.
Shelley Gavigan of Osgoode Hall Law School appeared nervous throughout her talk and acknowledged at the end that perhaps pro-choicers would be wise to acknowledge the “dominant ideology” of the unborn child:
If you must acknowledge the discourse of the unborn child,” she said, “if we must reinsert the vernacular of the unborn into the discourse, [then the] pregnant woman and the unborn child speak with one voice and that voice is hers.
Dawn Fowler of the NAF emphasized how few late-term abortions happen in Canada for social reasons. But then a particularly enthusiastic pro-abortion conferee from Holland stood up to ask this:
Sometimes women need abortions after 24 weeks, even for social reasons, and so why doesn’t Canada offer this?
Fowler replied that this lack of access is “physician driven.”
Garson Romalis, abortion provider in BC, spoke of his own work as saving women’s lives with some particularly distressing examples of a woman with six feet of bowel outside her body, who he was able to save, another jaundiced with infection, but she died. He spoke of how unique his specialty is because women are so completely grateful. “It is only my work where women say not only ‘thank you,’ but also ‘thank you for what you do.'”
And there were also interesting offline discussions: A very young woman from Canadians for Choice explained how, in spite of good access to clinics in the Toronto area, many women still self-abort. “You can find out how on the internet,” she said. Her concern? That there is still stigma attached to abortion, so women won’t come in to the clinic. I asked her how she hoped to combat the stigma – a genuine question, which was met with confusion. She reverted back to… access. “Some women just can’t get to a clinic,” she said, “What if you live in Scarborough [a suburb of Toronto] and can’t afford the bus ticket to Toronto?”
I was not able to stay and listen to the last session, which included Heather Mallick, journalist and Carolyn Bennett, Member of Parliament. But simply seeing Mallick up close reminded me that the person behind written vitriol might be fun – Mallick made a joke in the sunny lunchroom that she would stand in one of the rays and get a tan. It reminded me of a quote from Margaret Thatcher:
It pays to know the enemy – not least because at some time you may have the opportunity to turn him into a friend.
And all the old-guard feminists rolled their eyes and said “turn her, turn her into a friend… are you saying women can’t be perfectly good enemies?”
I remain convinced that most pro-choice young women are more open to a pro-life message than we currently hope. The empty rhetoric at the conference, the neutral tones of the discussion, the complete and total failure to acknowledge the difficulty of having an abortion and in many cases, the deep and lasting pain for women – it all makes me more convinced of this than I ever was before.
Brigitte adds: Excuse me for rolling my eyes all the way to my shoulder blades, but really. Worrying about the price of a bus ticket from Scarborough to Toronto when between 4 and 5 MILLION Canadians have no access to a family physician is more than a little déplacé. It’s almost obscene.
If you missed the show on January 29, it is now online.