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Monday
Jan232012

A Message to Pro-Choice Advocates: Women are not fragile flowers. We can handle the truth about abortion.

By Faye Sonier

A message to those claiming to be the voice of pro-choice advocates: Wake up. Canadian women are intelligent, bright and sensible. We do not need you to protect us from the realities of abortion or shield us from the potential risks associated with undergoing the “medical procedure.” You claim to be challenging the work and messages of crisis pregnancy centres and pro-life groups in the name of women’s “rights,” but frankly I’d appreciate it if you would take the time to care about our health. And by care, I mean something more substantial than indiscriminately throwing around the terms “back alley” and “clothes hanger” every time someone questions the ‘unquestionable’ benefits of abortion for Canadian women.

If you want to talk “rights,” one right women should definitely have is the right to be fully informed of the risks associated with any medical procedure we undergo. Oh wait, in theory medical practitioners are already required to provide that information. Our highest courts have reviewed and confirmed this to be a physician’s duty several times in the last few years. Why is it then that when crisis pregnancy centres or pro-life activists dare mention that there may just be some reported and documented risks associated with this particular medical procedure, they are quickly vilified as having a secret agenda and accused of seeking to manipulate women? (Or, should I say other women are being accused of trying to manipulate women, since most of the people sharing this information are female doctors, female counsellors, female peers, etc.)

If the secret agenda is to provide intelligent Canadian women with all the information necessary to make an informed decision about a medical procedure that will affect their current health and could well affect their future health, then I’ll take that secret agenda. But I tend to think that crisis pregnancy centres are rather poor at keeping their secrets. Almost all of these groups state rather clearly on their websites, in their waiting rooms and in the publications they distribute that they exist to provide care, information and support to women. Most even go so far as to clearly state in a way accessible in advance of any meeting or conversation that they will discuss options, including abortion, but will not make referrals for abortion.

It particularly upsets me that these “pro-choice” voices complain that some of the women who go to a crisis pregnancy centre for advice actually choose to carry their child to term rather than abort when they are presented information about medical risks associated with the procedure. Isn’t that their choice? Isn’t choice what you claim to be advocating for?

As someone who has had more than her fair share of serious medical challenges, I appreciate most the doctors and nurses who treat me as a woman with a brain. Even when I was just 16 and a physician was recommending that I take the birth control pill to address a physical issue I was suffering with, I was provided with the product’s pamphlet and given the opportunity to sit down and read through the risk factors, after which I challenged him about his recommendation. We had a frank conversation about the risks and benefits of going on the pill. I felt safe and secure having him as my physician and I knew that I could trust him to give me all the information necessary to make informed choice about my health and my body.  He would tell me the risks, small or great, and I would make an informed decision. He respected me.

There are risks associated with every medical procedure, including abortion. It is disingenuous to treat the procedure casually and women as if they can’t process information when advised of potential risks. Pregnant might equate with emotional but it doesn’t equate with stupid.

This comment is not the place for an exhaustive list of the numerous studies which demonstrate that there are in fact real risks associated with abortion procedures, but increasingly verifiable medical studies are shedding more and brighter light on the consequences. In fact, Barbara Kay listed several in her piece in a January 18th National Post column.

Canadian women are surgeons, politicians, senior executives, police officers, social workers, soldiers and mothers. We take on some of the most stressful and challenging positions this country has to offer. And we excel. We are touted as model citizens to countries who do not recognize the value of women. We can handle difficult realities, stressful circumstances and tough decisions. We aren’t fragile flowers and we don’t appreciate being patronized on national television or anywhere else as being too fragile to handle information about risks associated with any medical procedure; particularly by other women! Provide us with the information, all the information, and we’ll make up our own minds. If more Canadian women choose to carry their children to term, raising them or making them available for adoption, rather than abort them, would that really be such a bad choice?

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