Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Abortion Hits the Big Time

A nice contentious post for Canada Day.

Henry Morgethaler has been named to the Order of Canada.

I think that that is awesome, and far too long in the coming.

I never really had a strong position on abortion one way or the other. I knew that I didn't think it was a positive thing personally, but I knew that that was a personal issue. Further, I knew that no matter what else I thought, it was important that any and every one else have to freedom to make their own choice on the matter.
On this my opinion hasn't changed terribly much. I do beleive that there are gray areas. Very gray. But I am loathe to put limitations on circumstances under which abortion is identified as a bad thing.

I've twice been in circumstances where abortion has been a direct factor in my life.

In both cases it was a situation where we slipped through the cracks in terms of statistics contraceptively.

Without getting into specifics...

In the first case we had been dumb, yet we still lost the contraception lottery.
I was shocked and upset at the prospect of parenthood, yet I was willing to bite the proverbial bullet and make the necessary changes in my life to own up to my contraceptive stupidity. Further, I don't think we would have been collectively bad parents. She already was a parent. Myself... well there's no owner's manual, right?

It was a significant time for me. I had never seriously considered the possibility of being a parent. But there it was. I warmed up to the idea quite quickly. I was ready - or as ready as I'll ever be. (This still holds true.) It wasn't ideal, but we'd do fine. It was then that I opened my mind to the real prospect of being a parent. Obviously it never happened. She decided to have an abortion. I suspect that it had something to do with my inital uncertainty. Or at least that became her excuse. We only ever seriously discussed it once. I arrived home to the news. We lay in bed for a few hours talking about options. I was non-committal. I had never thought about being a parent seriously. I had some mental housekeeping to do. And I did it. I prepped myself for being a father. Then, one day not much later, she told me she'd had an abortion. Not once had I been directly consulted. While I recognize that it is her body and that that alone ought to dictate whose choice it is, I do think it is the right of the father to know in advance - so at the very least they can wrap their head around the notion if they aren't actually prepared for it. In a best case scenario they would have a chance to put forth a considered argument against it. But it's not their choice. They should be kept in the loop. I wasn't.
I was mad. It was the end of our relationship - though it took a year for that to fully blossom. Though I have to admit that my life is probably better for it.

In the second case we REALLY slipped through the cracks statistically. We were using contraception 100% properly (though 100% properly is not 100% effective) and in doing the math backwards we are pretty certain it happened the very first time we had sex together. We were later engaged - we were serious about each other. But when we were hit with the prospect of being co-parents so early, it was utterly wrong. It was too soon, and I think sub-consciously I already knew she was an alcoholic. No good for parenting, let alone gestation. I was not happy about the idea, but I was totally ready for her to have an abortion. It was her second too.
I am very happy we didn't carry that one to term. It would have had fetal alcohol syndrome. What a terrible thing to be responsible for - not the child specifically, but to know that you allowed it to happen to the child. Not to mention that if I never speak to the would have been mother ever again, it will be too soon.

But upon that second - most accidental - abortion, I was determined that I never wanted to be in that position again. Having said that, if I were faced with having a baby with someone who would bring the worst of circumstances upon the child (such as FAS) I would seriously consider the option, and probably go with it in the end. That doesn't change the essential emotion. I don't want to ever have an abortion in a relationship ever again.


Previously when I was approximately opposed to the idea personally, it was always with the caveat (ask around, it will be confirmed if you drill deep enough) that I had never been in the position of having knocked someone up.

In my first circumstance, I was willing to follow through. I would have done my best. But it's probably best that it didn't happen - though there was no medical reason to back out. In the second, it may be mostly hindsight, but I am very thankful it didn't happen, medically and socially. Would I have got to that point if not for the first? I can't say. But I'm glad I did.

In any case I am extremely grateful for Henry Morgenthaler for breaking the ground. He is totally deserving of the Order of Canada. In a forward thinking society we should all be able to make personal decisions about how our lives are lived. It is responsible to have children under responsible conditions. I can't thoroughly claim that I would have been doing it in either circumstance. We owe it to the children.

A few last random thoughts:

Only stupid people are breeding. I don't know who first put forth that notion - it wasn't Harvey Danger. But it's very true. I don't know how we can ever beat that one.

Where do we draw the line? If someone uses abortion as contraception, that strikes me as beyond the pale. How to determine that? I do not know. But perhaps if a pattern develops? A three strikes rule? That might work. If you can't learn your lesson in three times, you've got to start facing the music. If there is no clear mitigating circumstance (rape, severe invitro medical condition (a slippery slope, that one)) on the occasion of your fourth abortion - perhaps even the third... Tough luck you are expected to see this one through. There would be occasional issues, but there is little doubt in my mind that they would be significantly reduced.

In any case...

I am proud to live in a society that recognises the social value of abortion.

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