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I was wrong

I’m outraged that Rona Ambrose, Minister of State for the Status of Women in Canada, voted to re-open the abortion debate. The legal right to choose if and when to have children is absolutely fundamental to women’s rights, and I find it appallingĀ  that there’s an anti-feminist in charge at Status of Women. Doesn’t the Harper Government have any respect for women?

I’d estimate that half the women I know have had both abortions and children. Some had abortions in their youth, followed by children later on. Some had abortions after they’d had all the children they wanted.

It’s rarely an easy choice, but it is one of the most important ones we’ll ever make and it’s absolutely essential that we get to make it for ourselves.

A child is completely, irrevocably life-changing, and when you want one and you’re ready, it’s completely, irrevocably life-changing in a good way. But when you don’t and you’re not, it’s completely, irrevocably life-changing in a dreadful way. And by dreadful, I mean the thought of it fills you with dread. Other times (and this is the worst), you’re ambivalent.

I may struggle with the burden of choice, but ultimately nobody knows better than me if I’m in a position to devote my life to the raising of another human being at any given time. Especially not some politicians I’ve never even met! How dare they presume to know this better than me, better than the women of Canada? How dare they try to replace our fundamental rights with their personal moral code?

Parenting is way too important to be forced on women, especially by a bunch of right-wing anti-feminist politicians whose commitment to children ends at birth.

I honestly didn’t think it was possible to despise this government more than I already did. I was wrong.

35 comments to I was wrong

  • Bonnie

    Well said Zoom, well said.

  • mudmama

    I feel like we are living in Orwell’s 1984. Miistry of the Environment, Ministry on the Status of Women…..

  • Sheila

    Totally agree 100%. I never thought I would find a government that I would hate more than Mulroney but Harper has managed it. The motion was defeated but I have to ask myself what this new omnibus bill that Harper is going to push through has in it because this conversation isn’t over yet.

    • That’s what I thought about the Mulroney government too! There’s a lesson in there somewhere…never think this is as bad as it gets, because you’re just tempting the fates.

  • I think we are all making the same mistake with Harper. We believe there is such a thing as right and wrong and we believe there are such things as rights for a citizen of Canada. We expect Harper and the rest to honour those rights. Harper on the other hand recognizes nothing except getting and keeping power. He will do anything he can get away with to maintain that power and has no concept of what is right or wrong. His appointment of Ambrose is of the same tenor as Mike Harris appointing a dropout as minister of education. His contempt for women and his contempt for our traditions rights and freedoms is obvious and we need to get as ruthless as he is to get him out of power.

    • Contempt is a good word for this. He reveals his contempt for women and for feminism with his choice of Rona Ambrose as Minister of State for the Status of Women.

  • Sheila

    What kind of reactionary times are we living in? The political atmosphere here in the States is terrible.

    • Sheila, I worry we’re following directly in the footsteps of the States, just a few years behind. This is especially appalling when we’re copying the things that the U.S. has clearly failed at….eg, the war on drugs, the criminalization of dissent, the expansion of the prison system, etc.

  • future landfill

    I’m occasionally reminded that Robert Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe came to power by way of a (more or less) democratic election that saw him become Prime Minister in 1980. At the time he was widely considered a hero both inside and outside Africa. Subsequently elected president, he has now, 30-odd years on, driven his country to the edge of collapse and is reviled almost universally for his anti-democratic rule.

    Not that Stephen Harper is anything like Robert Mugabe, but it’s interesting how he seems to enjoy so much being in complete control of every little aspect of his government’s rule.

  • TS

    Why do people think she doesn’t have the right to vote for what she feels is right?

    Regardless of what you think of her decision, respect the fact that she has the right her conscience on it.

    • TS, the only reason I give a rat’s ass about her personal opinion is because she’s heading up the Status of Women Canada. Feminism should be a mandatory requirement for that job. You wouldn’t choose a person with anti-Aboriginal personal beliefs to head up Aboriginal Affairs, would you?

  • Stephanie

    From what I read from the Internet, she voted in order to revisit the OK’ness of abortion in all situations because she is against abortion when the women abort because their baby is not the sex they wanted it to be. As far as I know, she might be for choice/right to abortion, and only wanted to reopen the debate to ensure that abortions are legal, but sex discrimination before birth is made illegal…
    Read this: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/nikki-thomas/m312_b_1920680.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics

    • Stephanie, I too find it distasteful for people to abort fetuses purely for sex-selection purposes. But I am not willing to put abortion back on the table because of that. And I don’t buy it anyway. I think that’s a sneaky defensive manoeuvre for her to weasel out of responsibility for what she’s actually doing: attempting to take abortion out of the health care system and put it back in the Criminal Code.

      • Sheila

        Zoom, I agree with you and I don’t think it was Ambrose’s idea to begin with. I think the orignator was a Tory backbencher named Sweetwell. I think he introduced a private members bill to reopen the debate and Harper said he would not vote on it since he didn’t want to reopen the debate. But, knowing Harpers megalomania, we know that it originated from the PMO and it was Harpers intention to get people talking about it. This isn’t over yet because he is accomplishing what he set out to do – namely put abortion back into people’s conciousness. We will see this come up again in the near future. And that, TS, is really the problem not just what Ambrose voted but the sneaky way that Harper uses people to get what he wants.

        • Yup. The debate has already begun, regardless of how the MPs voted on whether to “re-open the dialogue.”

          It’s funny, it’s been literally decades since I last put my views about abortion on the internet. I realized then that nobody was ever going to change my mind, and I was never going to change anybody else’s mind, so it was a complete waste of time and energy to argue about abortion on the internet.

          I can’t believe I’m doing it again in 2012.

  • Here’s my thing, and someone tell me if I missed something. harper muzzles his party, he’s a control freak who doesn’t let his MP’s get a word in edgewise unless it’s been vetted by at least 6 PR types first. Harper actually allows a free vote, and he’s a control freak for somehow aranging to have exactly what happened, uh, happen. I should probably also point out the only party that didn’t allow a free vote is the NDP. Ah well, at least you didn’t jump on the “Jason Kenny voted in line with his religion to challenge Harper’s leadership” bandwagon. It was a free vote, if you were a conservative or a liberal. A few liberals and quite a few conservatives voted freely. Who knows, had the NDP not whipped it there might have been a couple more. But if you must, for all the good it does, criticise Harper for his tight leash, should he really also be criticised for maybe occasionally once in a while actually loosening the thing?

  • Sid

    Love this post. Very well said.

    And I don’t care if Harper himself wants to reopen the debate or not, he appointed an individual who has now clearly shown an interest in limiting women’s rights to represent the “Status of Women” in Canada. That alone says a lot about what Harper thinks of women.

  • mudmama

    The issue of sex selectionis ANOTHER private members bill that there will be an open vote on. This was about reopening when “life” begins. As horrified as l personally am that people abort for vanity reasons -sex selection, spina bifida, downs, someday maybe for autism….l do not want to see abortion anywhere near the criminal code -l don’t want women’s reasons questioned, or when they finally can access services tobe turned away because it is too late by a calendar date. I live in a region where abortions are hard to come by and anti choice doctors can, by a lie of omission deny the young and poor access already.

  • So you’re fine with it being legal to abort in the pregnancy’s 7th or 8th month? Forgive the bluntness, but if it takes ya that long to decide you don’t want the kid, there’s a lot more wrong with ya than the fact you’re pregnant. Just putting that out there.

    • James, I think mudmama is saying that there are situations (and regions of Canada) where women have trouble accessing their legal right to abortion in a timely fashion, and that they shouldn’t be denied access because they’ve passed a certain calendar date.

      Personally, I am not comfortable with the idea of having an abortion in the 7th or 8th month, so I wouldn’t choose to have one then.

      • Alright, but who’s definition of timely are we talking about here? The potential mother’s? Her doctor’s? Whichever insurance company’s paying for it, assuming provincial health insurance won’t?

        I think that’s where the issue lies. because there’s nothing on the books, criminally or otherwise, that sets a time limit on something like that. So let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, Ambrose’s excuse for voting the way she did was just that–an excuse. And, also for the sake of argument, let’s assume she really does believe you shouldn’t actually be allowed to have an abortion at, let’s say, the 7 or 8 month mark. How is that taking away a woman’s right to choose? She’d of had 7 or 8 months to choose, assuming that’s the cutoff–that, I believe, would actually be longer than some european countries if I remember right but I’ll need to double check on that.

        I don’t think anyone in this debate is saying just outright ban abortions–at least, not anyone with an ounce of common sense, anyway. But while that’s something you yourself might not be comfortable doing that close to term, the same might not be said for the next woman. And that’s what we’re escentially not allowed to talk about.

  • I think that’s the problem with debating abortion. Both sides try to get the other side to open the door a little wee bit by making one little wee exception for some extraordinary circumstance. And both sides say no, I am not opening that door, I am sticking adamantly to my guns because I know it’s a slippery slope.

    And that’s what I’m saying here. I support a woman’s right to choose. No exceptions. I might not always feel personally comfortable with the choice she makes, but I will always support her right to make it.

  • mudmama

    Because in thereal world james, women who terminate in the thirdtrimester are notdoing sobecause they don’t want a baby. They’re in horrible situations where they are carrying a baby so badly malformedit won’t live, or worse will be born in terrible pain and hold out a few days or weeks -it isn up to me to say they must carry that unviable fetus full term and birth it to watch it die. The women l know who had second trimester abortions did so because they were on birth control and didn’t know they were pregnant til they felt poorly for awhile, several thought they had cancer, or they went through standard testing and the inasive and dangerous amnio verified their doctors fears, a child with severe chromosomal damage and they chose termination over having a child with dkwns syndrome or spina bifida, or onlya brain stem, no brain, or they were young and poor and lived in pei and had to raisethe money toget an abortion in nova sotia because their shit of a doctor chose not to tell them that all they needed was a letter from him to have the procedure covered when they were just 6 weeks pregnant, or they were strung out addicts who didn’t have a clue they were pregnant until that fetus started moving. And its none of my, your, a tribunal, judge, jury or politicians business why they sought an abortion -it is their body, their choice.

    • Again, I’m not saying ban abortion outright. Far as I know that was never on the table. But limits? Hell yes. Abortion is not equal to birth control. Most of your reasons would, I’d think, be acceptable exceptions to the rule–particularly in cases where death during or shortly after birth is highly likely.

      Take, for instance, your hypothetical poor woman in PEI. Is there a medical reason why an abortion is necessary? If no, then why should PEI be told to pay up simply because she didn’t want to be pregnant?

      • Of course there’s a reason why an abortion is necessary. She chooses not to have a child at this time and abortion is a medical procedure performed by a doctor. (Unless you believe it shouldn’t be a medical procedure, in which case it becomes a criminal procedure performed by a criminal.)

        • Once again, no one’s saying make it criminal. I’ve yet to see anything on this side of the border that says otherwise. But just because you don’t want to be pregnant shouldn’t be a good enough reason to have one done, most especially on the public dime. And it definitely shouldn’t be something that takes you 7 or 8 months to decide. There’s a ton of room between abortions for anyone, anytime, and no abortions at all.

  • Another thing…people can be just as judgmental of a woman’s choice to have a baby, if they deem her to be too poor or too single to have a child, or if they think she has too many children already, or if she struggles with mental illness or they don’t like her gender identity or her lifestyle or she’s too sexually free.

  • mudmama

    pei is perfectly happy to pay for medical services off island, anti choice doctors deny young and poor women the information andsimple letter that provides them that. James, the fact you don’t see this as a medically necessary service places you pretty firmly in the anti-choice camp – prenatal care and birth costs easily twenty times what an abortion costs taxpayers – ao that argument is an antichoice strawman. You think there should be limits, then don,t go past your limits with regards to your reproductive health and welfare. Personally l think exterminating those with spina bifida and downs syndrome is horrific so l would never choose to abort an imperfect fetus, but l’m not going to impose my morality on anyone else. Limits on abortion play a dangerous game with the value of indiidual women and fetuses – healthy or not, victim or to blame. I have friends with kids who were micro preemies born at the same time a fetus is aborted for chromosonal irregularies. I know women whose kids are the result of rape and incest. You have no right to decide who gets to be born and who doesn’t. The only person who has that constitutional right is the person who has to risk her health, mental and physical carrying that fetus.

    • I’ll make this simple. Every civilised country has at least some laws re: abortion. From the US, to Britain, to australia. Except, that is, for Canada. Britain’s actually seems somewhat reasonable, and like it would potentially counter a lot of your reasoning. the only exception to it would be your poor girl from PEI example, but see my comment re: Zoom for my response to that.

  • mudmama

    Britian has abortion on demand beause their college of physicians has come out frequently with statements on thefact that continuing any pregnancy is more perilous for a womans health than abortion is -regardless of when a woman asks for an abortion. So regardless of the laws statements it is a decision made between a woman and her doctor .

  • mudmama

    And yes, in Britian it is on the publicdime too.