On a hot and muggy July evening, 15 nondescript-looking women gathered at the Trinity-Saint Paul Chapel. With few expectations a rather unremarkable lot, and it was hard to believe that they represented the driving force behind the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinic (OCAC).
I’ve been to quite a few of these feminist meetings, so I knew what to expect. As usual, the first announcement was that the press was not allowed to attend the meeting. No reason was given for the exclusion, but presumably they did not want a discussion of their meeting in print. This is not surprising, given the agenda of their meeting.
Most people are familiar only with the public face of the “choice” movement. In private, they are very different. They tend to be very hateful, even paranoiac among themselves, whereas in public, they cool and collected.
The impressive public performance comes only after endless “strategy” meetings and lots of practice. This July meeting appeared to be another one of their “strategy” sessions. They discussed at length the strength of their movement, and devised schemes for capitalizing on them. They also devoted a lot of their time to investigating the “fleshy underbelly of the anti-choice movement.”
In case you’re wondering what exactly our “fleshy underbelly” is, I’ll tell you: We’re “hiding behind the façade of the fetus.” Apparently the pro-life movement has nothing to do with the value of life and the protection of the unborn. We are simply concerned with oppressing women and perpetuating their subservience.
I’m not kidding about this! The scary part is, neither are they. It’s frightening to listen to a group of seemingly articulate and intelligent women who have convinced themselves that pro-lifers are woman-haters and wife-beaters. Unfortunately they have bought into the whole abortion lie.
Each and every woman spoke with the deepest of conviction as they denied the humanity of the unborn child – “science, being uncertain at best, has failed to establish in any way the humanity of the fetus…” They mocked the valiant efforts of “those obnoxious picketers at Henry’s place.”
Each and every one of those women would tell you, with a glow of conviction, that the “abortion struggle” is a matter of “reproductive rights and freedom of choice.” It’s hard to believe that the whole abortion issue has been so mutilated. It has fallen from a question of life and death to a fight for “equality and freedom from discrimination.”
I must hand it to those early feminists, though. They were a smart bunch. How astute of them to have picked words like “choice,” “freedom,” and “rights” – words that stir our righteous passions, and give us courage to bear arms. I can’t help but believe that those brilliantly engineered phrases – reproductive rights, full equality, etc. – have been responsible for the wide acceptance that society has accorded abortion.
If one only looks below the surface of those popular catch-phrases, though, it’s not hard to see how empty and meaningless they are. Consider the OCAC meeting as a prime example. Although “choice” was the theme of the meeting, not once did anyone discuss the woman who is unable to look after her child, but feels very strongly that she should give it life. What about her? There was no mention of Birthright or improved foster homes, or support groups for pregnant women.
Is this choice?
Equally contradictory is their stand regarding informed choice. Nikki Colodny of the Morgentaler abortuary once fumed that informed consent was a “travesty,” and that it was a burden that no woman needed have placed on her. According to Colodny (and the feminists who give her their support), women are not capable of understanding, nor do they have any reason to understand the abortion procedure. Is this choice? It seems clear then that their rallying cries of “choice now” are nothing more than empty cries, for there is no choice in the abortion movement.
It has always puzzled me that their “choice” slogans have gained them so much credibility. Perhaps even more puzzling than the public’s willingness to accept their empty cries for choice, no questions asked, is the fact that abortion advocates have won such a substantial following with their “exploitation” gimmicks.
We’re told that by denying women the “right” to abortion we are repressing them, making them prisoners of their wombs, and thus exploiting their fertility. Further, they explain, current abortion laws exploit the poor, the immigrants, and the women who live in rural areas.
Feminists have gained much ground by using this argument, but it denies the fact that the abortion industries are shamelessly exploiting women. Do abortionists offer counseling to traumatized women, do they ever communicate with the woman after she has paid her money? Who helps them when the guilt and the grief finally hit? Certainly not the abortionists.
One has to wonder too at the blindness of some groups. They hail Morgentaler as “the last great humanitarian,” and fight tirelessly for legalization of Morgentaler-style abortuaries. Do they not realize that Morgentaler and his crew are a haven for the irresponsible, the uninformed. How many women have been coerced by well-intentioned friends, “shamed” parents, or infuriated lovers into “terminating” their babies? How many women will live to regret the quick and easy answer that the Morgentaler clinic epitomizes? And those poor, immigrant women who are purportedly victimized by “stringent” abortion laws: Who protects them from the threats of employers, or the fear of deportation?
I was so sick with dismay as I left that abortion meeting. Here was a group of women who had played such a key role in invoking social change, women who had in their grasp the power to bring about truly beneficial social change. With their influential voices they could help implement a variety of social programs to aid all women. Yet they turn a deaf ear to the cries of all those women who were hurt by abortion, and keep repeating their meaningless words.
I keep hoping things will change. With each meeting, I keep hoping that I’ll have the courage to stand up and say “Hey, you’re wrong. This is how it is…” But it seems that small voices don’t count in the women’s movement, and that reality doesn’t mean much.