…or, How I became sucked into the pro-life movement

Twenty years ago last November, I came to Canada. I was single and in my mid-twenties. I came to work for a while, to see another part of the world. Back then I had long brown hair, and described myself as a pro-choice feminist,

Today I have medium-length grey hair, one husband, three teenagers, two dogs and a cat, (The dogs are significant: how many pro-lifers can claim to have done mouth-to-muzzle resuscitation successfully on a dog who tried to hang herself on the garden fence?)

Ten years ago, I wrote my first column for the first Interim. I had no credentials at all as a writer but, as most active pro-lifers know, lack of experience has never been a barrier to pro-life work. So for those who would like to know how this came about (as well as for those who would like to avoid such trauma), this is briefly how I became sucked into the pro-life movement.

My earlier position on choice had been completely reversed. I cannot say precisely what changed my mind, It was not religion (I became pro-life before I decided to examine my lack of faith); it had more to do with becoming pregnant and having my first child. First-hand experience exposed for me the shallowness of the rhetoric about a woman’s right to control her body, and the hypocrisy of pretending that a pregnant woman is not carrying a baby unless she decides she wants the child. After three such first-hand experiences (I am a slow learner), I decided to help sort out the mess.

I became a volunteer for Birthright: I wanted to help women who were faced with crisis pregnancies. I also became involved with a group of young women who were talking about forming a chapter of Feminists for Life, and with a group who started a telephone counseling service for women suffering from post-abortion syndrome.

Now I shall have to inject a word of caution about people like Jim Hughes. Back in 1983, he spent a lot of time in church basements, drinking coffee after Mass and making sales pitches to unsuspecting people about the urgency of the pro-life cause. On one such fishing expedition, he mentioned to me that a monthly newspaper was starting, and suggested I might like to write an article about pro-life feminism. Naturally, I did not let him know that I did not have the faintest idea where to start; I just went home and put my noble husband through a couple of nightmarish weeks until I managed to produce something barely coherent.

Eventually I handed in the column, and was rather appalled when fourteen-year-old J.A. Hughes showed up at my front door, announcing that he was the photographer for The Interim. Barely had I settled back down to my domestic routines, when I got a phone call from Andrew Turnbull. Where, he wanted to know, was my next column. Since I did not know where it was either (Jim deliberately had not mentioned my doing more than one article), and since Andrew seemed quite distressed to be without it, I agreed to have something ready in a couple of days.

And that, gentle reader, is how it all began…

When I started writing this column, I had intended to repeat some of that first column on pro-life feminism and, hopefully, to explain it better given ten years’ experience. But the people in charge of The Interim today have handed out strict word limits to columnists, and I have not left enough room.

So, my piercing insights into feminism will have to wait for another time. So, too, will my well-documented breathless account of my heroic rescue of Izzy the dog. It will be interesting to see what challenges the next ten years bring. To sum it all up, I heard of a bumper sticker which read, “I can do anything—I have children” (and a husband, three teenagers, two dogs, a cat, and an extended family called the pro-life movement).