Friday, 20 March 2015

Harm reduction--my take

So we have one reader's post ('s call him "Stan"-- saying that he finds some of my life-oriented reasoning to be persuasive, but feels that he has to hang on to the availability of abortion for those instances where a woman appears to be putting herself in unacceptable harm's way by not having the choice of terminating the pregnancy.

These are not the ravings of an ideologue. Now Judy Rebick, former leader of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, she's an ideologue. This is what she says, in this case in reference to Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May's view on abortion as found in my post of March 13/15 (

Elizabeth May:   
She believes that “all life is sacred” but that if Canada criminalize abortions “women would seek out whatever butcher they could find…and they would die horrible deaths.” She goes on to say “I’ve talked women out of having abortions. I would never have an abortion myself.” Her approach would be to “have a different kind of conversation? What kind of programs and strategies do we need to reduce the number of legal abortions take place?” 

Judy Rebick (in response to Ms May): 

There is no middle ground on the abortion issue as you are no doubt finding out. The organized opposition to abortion in this country as in the United States does not care if women die... I personally have debated right-to-lifers for 30 years. There is no dialogue here. They put the life of a foetus above the rights and even the lives of women. Whether or not you agree with this, by raising the issue in the way that you did, you contribute to their position... We had a debate on abortion in this country for decades. Raising the need for further debate as you have done is a serious error in judgment and in the unlikely possibility that Stephen Harper wins a majority in the next election, you could have done irreparable harm.

Rebick refers to a woman's right to choose as "the most important victory of the women's movement of my generation". She also ripped up her financial contribution to the Green Party.

Other pro-abortionists also weighed in on May's position:

1. “I think I was most disgusted when May bragged about giving medical advice to young women she’s totally and completely unqualified to give.”

2. “Elizabeth May is a garden tool and an embarrassment to womankind. An abortion is not a tragedy, it is a medical procedure. Nothing more and nothing less.”

3. “The zygote does not have the same rights as the pregnant woman. No. The zygote has no rights. It doesn’t even get last rites. It doesn’t have citizenship. Most are flushed before there is anything anyone in their right mind would call “life”. The zygote is a parasite living off the body resources of the hostess. And if she is unwilling to be the hostess the parasite has no rights at all.”
But the response to "Stan" from Advokate Life and Education Services dismisses the idea of harm reduction as a justification for abortion in even a small number of cases ( 

What's my take? Well, I see no point in being distracted by the extremists like Ms Rebick and her ilk. Countless rigorous polls of Canadian women's attitudes regarding abortion indicate that the critics cited above are out of step with what women believe and want. At best only about 30% of women believe that Canada's current regimen of abortion-on-demand is the right position. Knee-jerk ideology, totally lacking in creativity or empathy, is of no value in solving life's problems. 

But the remaining 70% or more of Canadian women believe either that placing various restrictions on abortion (e.g., not past first trimester, not without prior counseling, not without looking at an ultrasound first, etc.) is legitimate, or that abortion should not be permitted at all. What can we learn from the pro-choicers in this group (and I would number "Stan" among them)?

Well, the glaring middle ground that jumps out is, of course, the issue of harm reduction. None of us wants harm to come to women in crisis pregnancies*. Whether we believe in limited abortion or no abortion, the concern is the same. The difference is in how to reduce the harm. 

I'm going to give you a practical case study, complete with video, in my next post on how this was accomplished by a crisis pregnancy centre.  

P.s. Sorry for how crummy this post looks. Blogspot is not always a perfect host in terms of the appearance of the drafts I publish. 


*It's fair to say that the official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Church bans abortions which directly cause the death of a fetus. Therefore, if it is determined that carrying a pre-born child to term will or might cause the mother to die or be significantly harmed, the Church will still urge the woman to carry the child rather than abort. This position is not typically taken by other Christians. Indeed, a large number of Catholics don't hold to it either. Nor is it my position. To put things into perspective, less than 5% of abortions are performed for reasons of rape, incest, or physical harm to the mother.   

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