A pamphlet on pregnancy published by Health and Welfare Canada towards the end of last year should be greeted with joy by pro-lifers – it is one hundred per cent pro-life. Indeed, there is not a single reference to “pregnancy termination” in its 37 pages.
“Coming to Life” is a beautifully illustrated with photographs of the developing child from 28 days to 17 weeks. It discusses clearly and concisely the development of the baby in the womb.
“Being a mother starts before the baby is born,” states the introduction and the pamphlet discusses conception and physical and emotional changes in the mother, as well as fetal development. It goes on to discuss the process of childbirth and ends with a positive discussion on the advantages of breastfeeding – “the natural way to feed the baby.”
A refreshing departure from most prenatal literature is the way in which the pamphlet consistently refers to the “baby.” It only uses the term embryo and fetus in discussing fetal development. The rest of the time, the baby is called a baby.
The pamphlet promotes good nutrition as vital to having a healthy baby and it includes a food guide for pregnancy and breastfeeding. It also discusses the effect cigarettes, drugs and alcohol have on the child’s development and stresses that these substances should be avoided.
A discussion on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the first hint to the reader wondering at whom the pamphlet is aimed. A careful look at the photographs of happy families and reading the acknowledgments at the beginning tell the full story. The pamphlet has been produced for native people in remote communities. It was published at the suggestion of nurses working in these communities who needed to leave behind something educational for the expectant mothers to read.
While not wishing to denigrate in any way this positive step forward on the part of the federal government, it is appropriate to wonder why such pamphlets are not issued to give information to other communities who also consider that abortion is not an “option” for pregnant women. Perhaps such a pamphlet is already under way…