Friday, 13 March 2015

Who put the crisis in crisis pregnancies? Ask Elizabeth May

In my last post, I deliberately quoted Hillary Clinton, despite the animus of many in the life camp toward her, because of her strong desire to dramatically reduce the abortion rate and to urge women to consider other options.

A similar position is taken by Canadian politician Elizabeth May. Like Ms Clinton, Elizabeth May is on the center-left side of the political spectrum (she is the federal leader of the Canadian Green Party and is a member of Parliament). Both women are professing Christians (Methodist and Anglican respectively). Here is Ms May's party's take on the desirability of abortion:

The Green Party's policy is described as “pro-life, pro-choice”, confirming support for legal safe abortions, while also finding ways to support women who find themselves facing economic hardship and wanting to have a child.

(Ms May speaking) “Some feminist scholars have pointed out that the slogan 'right to choose' focuses on too narrow a context. What are a woman's real rights in society? Where are our economic rights? While a woman must have the right to terminate a pregnancy, what of the larger context? What about the on-going struggle to create a truly equal relationship of sexual equality that might (would) help avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place? What about the responsibility of both sexual partners to avoid unwanted pregnancy (and while on the topic, to avoid sexually transmitted diseases that would be reduced through use of condoms)? I believe that respectful dialogue is possible even around such an emotionally charged issue as this. Not every opponent of legal abortions is unthinking. Neither is every supporter of legal abortion unwilling to acknowledge the moral complexity of the issue. Some common ground could be found, I believe, when the discussion shifts to a broader context” (

[Despite the above, May's personal view has raised the ire of many hard-core pro-choice people:
Her position is simple. She believes that “all life is sacred” but that if Canada criminalizes 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 taking place?” I think this the approach the anti-abortion folks should take. I think criminalization of abortion is a poor strategy. It is unlikely to happen, it comes with serious baggage, and I‘m not sure how effective it would be (

One prominent pro-choice spokesperson replied with heat: “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.”

Now, look at my last post, where I quote a guest columnist who is also a professing Christian but identifies with the life culture, and consider the factors she posits as contributing to crisis pregnancies, and often to terminations:
  • The [hyper-sexualized media] message is: women exist for men. It's called female subordination. Pregnancy is not part of the message. Male responsibility is not mentioned. 
  • Women have been streamed into low wage jobs.
  • Maternity benefits and child care provisions are still poor.
  • Child care subsidies are inadequate.
  • Adoption, the alternative proffered by many pro-life people, is also anti-life, particularly if the adoption is closed. It ignores the child's lifelong feelings of abandonment as well as the mother's pain.
  • A truly pro-life society would work on male responsibility, different socialization, better wages for women, more affordable regulated child care programs, and improved income assistance. 
I have no doubt that both Clinton and May would agree wholeheartedly.
Now I ask again, as I have at different points in this series on engaging culture, Why isn't the life culture more concerned about the matters raised above, and less on placard waving? Because it's very hard, long-term, potentially expensive, strategic work. It requires cultural engagement, a thick skin, a high tolerance for setbacks and ambiguity, and satisfaction with small wins while never resting until the final objective is obtained.

Sounds a lot like William Wilberforce, doesn't it?

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