Raji Shankar’s voice nervously breaks as she speaks into the phone. It’s her first telephone call with the media, she explains, and the topic of conversation isn’t the type of benign chatter she’d share at a dinner party. Nor is she rehashing her proudest moment. Shankar, a business analyst in Toronto, is recalling how on two separate occasions she accompanied friends for abortions – once in her native India and once in Toronto. Her Indian friend conceived a child in a month superstitiously deemed unlucky by her caste. Her second friend, a professional from Toronto and the mother of two children, was disinterested in expanding her family.
Ten years after helping her friend in Toronto procure an abortion, Shankar’s attitude toward “choice” is no longer laissez faire. Thanks in part, she says, to the joy she receives from her own son. Shankar wants to accompany women to experience that same elation. Today, Shankar is a founding board member and a weblogging contributor to Canada’s newest pro-life organization, Prowomanprolife.org, a website conveying the choice of life for women contemplating abortion – a choice of which Shankar believes her friends were ignorant. “When my first friend in India had an abortion – the option for her to keep the baby didn’t cross my mind, let alone hers. But with my friend in Toronto, yes – but I don’t even think she knew she had options,” says Shankar.
The organization’s attractive, easy to navigate website was launched publicly on Jan. 14. Its primary feature is a weblog, where Shankar along with her five co-founding board members post commentary on a myriad of life subjects, ranging from a lack of modesty in the attire chosen by professional tennis players, to the state’s censorship of pro-life advertisements. In addition to Shankar, the board consists of two Calgarians, psychologist Teresa Fraser and Dr. Sheryl Alger, who is in her fifth year of residency to become an ob/gyn; Winnipegger, Rebecca Walberg, a mother of three; Ottawa-area writer Brigette Pellerin; and Torontonian Andrea Mrozek, research manager for the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. “If women are able to read that there’s an alternative to abortion … If two million people read our website and it touches only one, then it’s worth it,” says Shankar.
The website and the blog are the brain-child of Mrozek, the site’s founding director, who is best known throughout Canadian pro-life circles for breaking the immigrant abortion sex-selection story for The Western Standard three years ago. Frustrated by the illogical fallacy inherent in the choice argument, as well as its politically correct manifesto, which screams that all who oppose abortion oppose women’s rights, Mrozek decided a tastefully moderated online forum challenging those canards would be the most effective way for her to combat that culture. “Science shows us what the fetus is. Pro-choicers won’t discuss that. That’s why we’re debunking abortion as a women’s right. I see it as the last leg for the abortion movement to stand on,” she says.
The ugly reality that one’s defence of the innocent is an invitation to scorn and persecution reared itself as Mrozek assembled her board of six contributing bloggers. Originally a Toronto attorney was also selected to foment discussion against the abortion industry’s claptrap, but fear of professional reprisal lead to her choosing not to participate. Mrozek says she can’t blame her friend’s reticence. “As a student at the University of Toronto, I wouldn’t have dreamed of talking about being pro-life. That’s how untenable the position is,” says Mrozek.
The women intended the website’s release to shadow the Jan. 28 anniversary of the 1988 Morgentaler decision by the Supreme Court, which placed the unborn at the mercy of their mothers. One of the reasons to go online close to the anniversary is to highlight a fact history has omitted: that the high court never enshrined an actual right to abortion, notes Mrozek. “Abortion is not a right in Canada. There is no constitutional right; there is no right in law. So we’re just taking it a step forward and talking about it openly and logically and using freedom to address it through” the website, she says.
The ladies behind Prowomanprolife.org hope for it to spawn a mentoring network to support women experiencing a crisis pregnancy with their emotional needs, as well as providing help monetarily.
Eventually, time will judge how successful an endeavour Prowomanprolife.org is. But in the pro-life movement, anyone who has worked a day or volunteered an hour of their time fostering a culture of life will agree success is near impossible to quantify. This is a discouraging fact that leads to burnout and people leaving the movement – which is why it might just be a little bit encouraging that another pro-life organization has established itself in Canada.