A still young mother learned her fifteen-year-old daughter had secretly scheduled an abortion at the Riverside Hospital for June 2, after meeting with and being examined by a practicing Ottawa gynecologist. The gynecologist, Dr. W.L. Sim, examined the girl, diagnosed her as eight weeks pregnant and completed the forms for her admission to the Riverside. The child confided this news to an in-law, and then to her parents. The mother, shocked that her fifteen-year-old daughter had gone all the way to obtain an appointment for an abortion without her parents’ knowledge or consent, confirmed the story with the Riverside Hospital.
The mother’s rage exploded against Dr. Sim and the Riverside Family Planning Clinic. How cold they admit a minor for an abortion? How could they proceed with a so-called routine surgical procedure without notifying the next-of-kin? Caught short and embarrassed at being found out, the Riverside cancelled the June 2 abortion.
Cancelling the appointment was only the beginning of the struggle. The daughter was still carrying a child. The nurses of the clinic began to counsel the beleaguered family. Yes, the daughter could obtain an abortion if the mother consented. The second possibility was adoption. The mother abhorred adoption almost as much as abortion, for personal reasons. For the fifteen-year-old to keep the child was scarcely mentioned.
Never was the nineteen-year-old father called into the clinic’s discussions, although his role in procreation is of little less importance than the girl’s, and would certainly increase in importance should the child be brought into the world. Although completely ignored by the professionals, the nineteen-year-old boy was the only one to express any kind of love for the little girl, for he promised her that he would stand by her, whatever decision she should make. It is ironic that the very person who might have given the girl courage to face a difficult situation is treated with such official scorn and contempt.
A great many people seem to have interpreted abortion to be an act to be decided between a woman and her doctor and have reduced one of the most fundamental human functions, the procreative function, to a clinical test, a diagnosis of health and have eliminated the father to a non-actor status.
So perverse is the abortion and contraceptive mentality, that within the whole medical apparatus of the Riverside Hospital there was not a single voice willing to suggest to this new young couple that they might become a family.
If no one is teaching vocation of becoming a Christian family, all new life will be menaced by the forces promoting contraception and abortion. It is our spiritual smallness, which makes it so difficult in a purely human context to come up with creative and real alternatives to dismal dilemmas.