No doubt you have heard that abortion is a woman’s issue. I want you to hear it from me – this is not a woman’s issue. This is a human rights issue, a moral issue, a historic issue, a political issue – not a woman’s issue.


Why, in a time when we are expecting so much of men, do we want to shut them out of this issue? We expect men to help plan conception. We expect men to attend prenatal classes, learn to be labour coaches, and attend us in the delivery room. We expect men to take their share of the 3:00 a.m. feedings, day care and soiled diapers. At the same time that we expect all of this from men, we would deny them a say in whether or not the child lives or dies.

We are outraged to hear of a man telling his partner, “Get an abortion.” We are equally outraged to hear a man telling his partner, “Please don’t get an abortion.”


We resent the fact that the value of a woman might be determined by whether some man wants her, and yet we would declare that the value of an unborn child may be determined by whether some woman wants him or her.

We resent that women have been owned by their husbands – yet we insist that unborn children are owned by their mothers. We believe that a man’s right to do what he pleases with his own body does not include the right to sexually exploit women – yet we say that a woman’s right to her own body means that she can kill her unborn child. Don’t get me wrong – I am a strong believer in women’s rights. Let me tell you what I believe are the rights of a pregnant woman:

–     I believe that every pregnant woman has the right to proper medical care.

–          I believe that every pregnant woman has the right to adequate nutrition.

–          I believe that every pregnant woman has the right to decent accommodation.

–          I believe that every pregnant woman has the right to love and respect.

What does it say about us when we as a society say to a pregnant woman, “Have an abortion?” This says that we, as a society, do not respect her rights or the rights of her unborn child. It says that we, as a society, are unwilling to fulfill her rights. Let’s face it – it is quicker, easier and cheaper to offer abortion as a solution to a problem pregnancy. It takes commitment of time and money to fulfill a woman’s rights.

Medical care

One of the rights of which I spoke was proper medical care. Proper medical care entails proper knowledge. We encourage pregnant women to take prenatal classes so they have adequate knowledge to make proper decisions about drugs, alcohol and exercise. Knowledge helps a pregnant woman prepare for physiological and psychological changes that pregnancy brings.

Yet pro-abortion advocates insist that knowledge is not good for pregnant women seeking abortions. Pro-abortionists do not want these women troubled with knowledge of fetal development or the dangers involved in abortion – they don’t want these women to know about the possibilities of hemorrhage, infection, a torn cervix. They don’t want women to know about post-abortion trauma.

Didn’t know

Did you know that the American Psychiatric Association has listed abortion as one of the triggers for post-stress disorder? Did you know that some of the symptoms include depression, eating disorders, insomnia, drug and alcohol problems? Don’t you think that women contemplating abortion have the right to this knowledge?

Pro-abortionists do not want pregnant women to know that there are alternatives to abortion. Did you know that in B.C. there are agencies willing to help? The saddest cries we hear from women after their abortions are, “I didn’t know. – I didn’t know that the baby’s heart can be heard at 18 days after conception. – I didn’t know that my baby’s brain was emitting waves by the fourth week. – I didn’t know that at ten weeks my baby looked like this (example shown). – I didn’t know that I might have trouble conceiving again. – I didn’t know that I would have these nightmares that my relationship would deteriorate, that I couldn’t walk through the babies’ department, that I’d cry every August or that I’d try to commit suicide on the day the baby would have been born.”

Women’s resources

Not to give these women adequate knowledge shows a lack of respect for their rights. I’ll go further than that – it shows a real contempt for women.

I believe in women. We are resourceful, creative – we have a marvelous capacity to weather adversity. We are into fields that used to be “men only”. We juggle work at home – not always perfectly, but well.

What a put-down to say that we can’t handle an unexpected pregnancy!

Common sense is the key to understanding the abortion issue. Remember these simple facts: Life begins at conception. If that life is allowed to grow, a human baby will be born. Abortion kills that developing life. All the rhetoric in the world cannot change these basic facts.

Abortion kills babies and hurts women.

Can we not, as a civilization, offer something more?

Mrs. Stilwell delivered this talk at a symposium organized by Concerned Citizens of B.C. in Langley, B.C., on September 11, 1989.