Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why would a man dare to write about abortion?

This blog is primarily about Canadian politics and current events, but every now and again I decide to write about different things. I've touched on sports a few times, as well as my opinions on dating and divorce. Heck, I even reviewed the Hannah Montana movie.

But in terms of response, nothing has generated as much interest as the twelve posts I've done on the subject of abortion. I've taken a fair degree of abuse from those aligned with what I'll call the 'Militant Pro-Choice' lobby. Canada has no laws on the books concerning abortion whatsoever, and that is exactly as it should be some will argue. Advocates of the status quo say that any decisions regarding continuing a pregnancy to term, or aborting a fetus, that those decisions should be left to a woman in consultation with her doctor.

I have expressed my opinion often enough re my concerns about later term procedures, and have read numerous rebuttals posted in reply...I'm not looking to walk all over the same ground again.

My most recent post however did generate a comment from "JJ" of unrepentantoldhippie, in which she asks:

"This topic obviously intrigues you. Why is it that whenever you start a discussion about it you always come at it from the direction of being anti-choice? I know you're not anti-choice, so it seems like an odd position to take. Just wondering".

Okay JJ I'll enlighten you, and anyone else who's curious, about the reason the issue of abortion interests me. It relates to personal experience. There are no shortage of personal stories concerning abortion offered up on the Internet, with all the ones I've seen coming from a woman's perspective.

Its impossible to know if the experiences being written about are genuine or not. One can't know if the intention of the writer is to advocate for one side or the other, either Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. The most recent one I've come across is HERE, it strikes me as heart felt and totally legitimate...but one can never be one hundred per cent certain. Anyway, here's my story.

There are plenty of men out there who have gotten their girlfriends pregnant, and I'm one of them. It was back in my first year of university, 1987 if memory serves. The news hit me like a ton of bricks, all of a sudden there existed the very real possibility that I was going to be a the age of just 20. Of course the child wasn't in my body, I wasn't going to have to carry this little human being inside of me for 9 months, and then give birth...that would be my girlfriend's job.

Abortion was very much in the news back then, with Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto clinic being a lightening rod for both supporters and detractors. I had always argued on the side of Pro-Choice whenever a discussion came up, which was often given that Canada's Supreme Court had yet to strike down this country's abortion laws.

I told my girlfriend that I would support whatever decision she made. She was from a Roman Catholic family, so I knew there was the very real possibility that she might decide to keep the child, but she didn't. I will admit to there being some relief on my part, knowing that my life wasn't about to be turned upside down.

She made an appointment at Dr. Morgentaler's Harbour Street clinic, and while I seem to remember driving there, much of the experience is a blur. I do know that we were told to enter from the rear, so as to avoid the many protesters who normally were out in force. As chance would have it we went on a bitterly cold February cold that not a single protester was to be found.

The first thing I remember after getting in the door was sitting in the waiting room and my gf being told to fill out a medical questionnaire. She was very anxious and nervous as one might expect, so I took the clipboard from her and proceeded to ask her the questions on it...marking the boxes appropriately. A very officious woman (she might have been a nurse) then came over and snapped the clipboard out of my hand, admonishing me by saying: "She has to fill it out". Under different circumstances I might have argued or made a fuss, but I was feeling somewhat anxious myself.

Having filled out the form we waited for her name to be called, or for someone to come and get her. A younger looking girl sitting near us, she was dressed liked Madonna and used that name to boot...seeing how nervous my gf was, she offered up some words she probably meant to be comforting. I forget exactly what she said, but the gist of it was that she'd had 3 abortions done already, and that it wasn't a big deal.

After they took my gf in, I was left to wait. I was the only guy there, so I made my way back to the rear door where there were two men smoking. One was a contractor, and the other I think was providing security. They told me that normally there would be at least a dozen or so protesters out front. The security gaurd had a sign of his own that he told me he liked to wave at them. I don't remember what was written on it, but it had a drawing of a man with his penis encased in a large iron tube or something like that. He told me that when the protesters got on his nerves he'd wave his sign at them while shouting..."That's what you're all bloody like"....he was a Brit obviously.

I don't remember much beyond that, I know that I drove my gf to her sister's place where she was going to rest for the next day or so. Me? I went back to my dorm room and was basically numb. We broke up shortly thereafter...which is probably common. But that experience stuck with me in the months and years that followed.

I've always been a fan of folk music, and included in my tapes was one by Peter Paul and Mary. One of their songs took on new significance for me, Day Is Done. If you'd care to listen to it you can find a rendition of it HERE on youtube. I'd always found the words moving, but after the experience I'd been through, they brought tears to my eyes...they still can.

The song is about a father asking his child three questions, with the answer to each being: '...if you'll take my hand my son, all will be well when the day is done'.

I can't properly convey the impact this song had (and has) on me, without providing the words to the 3 questions, so here they are:

Verse 1
Tell me why you're crying, my son,
I know you're frightened, like everyone
Is it the thunder in the distance you fear?
Will it help if I stay very near?
I am here.

Verse 2
Do you ask why I'm sighing, my son?
You shall inherit what mankind has done.
In a world filled with sorrow and woe
If you ask me why this is so, I really don't know.

Verse 3
Tell me why you're smiling my son
Is there a secret you can tell everyone?
Do you know more than men that are wise?
Can you see what we all must disguise
Through your loving eyes?

Why did this song affect me so deeply? Why does it continue to do so?

There's always thunder in the distance, always something scary over the horizon. For me that scary thing became the prospect of fatherhood at an early age. This world filled with sorrow and woe, that's something almost everyone can relate to. We'd all like to change it, but nobody knows how...there's always been pain and suffering and we accept that there always will be.

But in the end the child is smiling...perhaps possessing some secret knowledge hidden behind 'his loving eyes'. And always the father's answer is "if you'll take my hand my son, all will be well when the day is done".

Only I didn't offer my hand, I didn't say to my child..."all will be well". I know I'd left the decision to my gf, it was her body after all. But what if I'd suggested we not go through with the abortion? I realize some might say that we probably weren't ready to be parents...But who's to judge? Who has a perfect crystal ball? How many people will tell you their lives have turned out perfectly? That the path they envisioned at 20 is the path they're now walking?

I don't see myself as a religious person...but there are others who do consider me as such. I was brought up until the age of 12 or so with church being part of the Sunday routine. No doubt the lessons taught to me in Sunday school still resonate in my subconscious. And one of those lessons is that life is sacred.

Does this mean I'm changing course...that I'm switching allegiance to the Pro-Life side of the abortion debate? No it doesn't. At the end of the day I believe the decision to abort or to have a child should rest with the mother...not with the state. Morality is a matter of personal belief, and nobody has the right to impose their moral belief system on another. If various religions would stop trying we'd eliminate a lot of the justifications for war.

But I also believe that our "ME" centred society is definitely lacking. Many Canadians are consumed with money and status, and having a child can sometimes been seen as a barrier to consumerist dreams. I'm not talking about just women, but of men as well.

After that experience I promised myself that I would try and have more faith...that if something like that ever happened again, that I would suggest keeping the baby. If it ever happened again I would believe that 'all will be well when the day is done'.

Years later, it did happen again. When it did my gf became my fiance and we decided to keep the child. Sadly she later told me she'd miscarried. I'd told her that I had been planning to propose regardless, and that the pregnancy had merely affected the timing...and so we continued making plans for the wedding. But then she became pregnant again, only this time she needed to abort because she hadn't had a D&C after the miscarriage.

I had told my future wife of my first experience with my gf in university, I'm not one to keep secrets. When it came time for the D&C I went with her to the hospital and was in the room where the procedure would be preformed. Then the nurse came in. I'm not sure if she was actually a nurse, but she told us she wanted to be sure that we wanted to go through with the abortion. I was fiance had said it was a necessary procedure. The nurse was quickly told to leave by my now ex-wife, while she told me that there must be some confusion.

The whole experience had me doubting whether or not there had really been a first pregnancy or not? Had she lied to me knowing that I would propose? I'd told her about my feelings with my gf before, and about the decisions I'd made. My soon to be wife was also from an RC family, and no doubt there would be a certain degree of shame with having a child under less than ideal circumstances from a religious perspective.

Anyway, that's my story. I'm not seeking feedback, so don't feel compelled to comment. If there are those who genuinely wish to express some feelings, I don't have an issue. I will merely ask that there be no arguments. I've had my fill and I am done with this topic.

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