My Body, No Choice
In my mid-twenties, I was a poor grad student at a small, elite American college. I spent my first year living in residence, and being a half-generation older, I found myself the object of father-hunger (or maybe uncle-hunger) for several fledgling freshmen, girls and boys. These were kids considerably more well-heeled and sophisticated than this middle-class Albertan, and it was mildly interesting to be their library-closing confidant: hearing the same-old, same-old adolescent obsessions and anxieties translated to Cape Cod and Twin Peaks.
Then late one night in October, I was sitting across from a blond, broad-faced girl from very wealthy Shaker Heights (immortalized in the movie, Philadelphia Story). Her otherwise cute face was coating itself in tears and mucus. To my detached wonder, she was blubbering, “I murdered my baby.” Yet on gentle inquiry, it was her Quaker mother who did the murdering. The girl got pregnant in her last year at an exclusive prep school, and a granddaughter did not fit in with her mother’s plans for her daughter, so she was sent off to the family doctor.
Up to this point, I had no stake in the abortion issue. I’d fallen from my family's faith at age 15, and ended up pursuing truth through philosophy. And yet, barely a week later, I was sitting across from a polished young man from suburban Washington, and, Lord knows how, the issue came up again. So, I challenged him with the question, “What is it?” After mentally sifting his options, he replied, “All the latest thinking says the real question is, who has the right to decide what it is?” All the latest thinking! Forgive me, Lord, but I guffawed in his face: “All the latest thinking!”
Three years later, I was in a completely different city, personally much closer to reality, and another young woman was sitting across from me, crying: “I’m excommunicated!” (She was Catholic?) She’d gotten pregnant, her boyfriend dumped her, and moving like an automaton, she’d purchased an abortion. “There’s a church right across the street,” I tried to comfort her. “Why don’t you just go to confession?” To which suggestion, she replied with the challenge, “Why don’t you?” So, across the street together we went, then went our separate ways.
The reality is, almost any young woman with an “unplanned pregnancy” is truly incapable of a real choice. She’s like an untrained civilian, press-ganged into a commando mission, standing at the open door of a transport plane with a parachute on her back, staring into the windy night. Someone says, “You have a choice. You can either jump alone into the night… Or you can walk to the back of the plane; an officer will remove the parachute, and you can rejoin your friends.”
Having a baby is not a commando mission, and if her boyfriend, friends and family supported her, she’d know that. But in our pedophobic culture, they don’t, and she doesn’t. Yet nature endures, counter-culturally. For almost 20 years, Focus on the Family has been subsidizing 3D ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centres, and in the course of documenting 472,000 babies saved, they proved that 54 percent of women who planned to abort, but then see their babies, choose life. Reality simply is.
The unchoice.com website has gathered bushels of statistics from the Elliot Institute on forced abortions, more than you may want to know. In 95 percent of abortions, the male partner played a central role in the decision, and 64 percent of aborting women reported being pressured into it. Murder is now the highest cause of death among pregnant women, so a former abortion clinic security guard testified before the Massachusetts legislature that the greatest threat to women at the clinics were the men who accompanied them, determined to avoid support payments.
Ironically, Hollywood scandals in the 50s and 60s may have normalized popular indifference toward forced abortions, just as elite scandals are now normalizing attitudes toward pedophilia. The 64 percent of women with post-abortion trauma may console themselves with the thought that they’ve joined the ranks of Judy Garland, Lana turner, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, and Ava Gardner. It seems that, the greater the celebrity, the more oppressive the coercion.
Joseph Woodard earned a BA at University of Alberta in Political Philosophy, Master’s degrees at Dalhousie and St. John’s (Great Books), Greek and Latin diplomas at Berkeley, and a PhD in Government at Claremont. He invested fifteen years as an academic (Bethany, Brock), fifteen as a journalist (Alberta Report, Calgary Herald), and eleven as a tribunal judge (Citizenship Canada). He helped Kathy raise ten children with parent-run school start-ups, and taught adjunct at high schools and colleges. He writes for magazines such as Public Discourse and Crisis, serves as director of research for the Canadian Centre for Home Education, and moderates Great Books seminars online with Angelicum Academy.