Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author and are not necessarily reflective of ALIES' position.
Today I took my two daughters to an abortion clinic to teach them about their reproductive rights. They are 5 and 8 years old. Maybe this seems a little strange, or possibly disturbing, but my eldest daughter is only a few years away from technically being able to conceive a baby in her young, barely-out-of-infancy body. I wanted to take them to an abortion clinic so that they would know their rights.
This year marks 50 years that Canada has legally granted women the option of abortion. And for over two decades, no law in Canada has existed whatsoever in governing abortion. This means that my daughters would neither need my permission, nor my knowledge, to elect to have an abortion. This means my daughters could legally carry a foetus up to 40 weeks—until right before the child is due to be born—and, given the right hospital, province and circumstance, they could elect to end their full term baby’s life. And because I live in a province that pays for each and every abortion through tax dollars, this means that if my daughters ever elected to have an abortion, it would be paid for… by me. So today I took them, age 5 and age 8, to an abortion clinic, because I figured they should know their rights. When I was a little girl, I remember my mother taking me and my three little sisters to pro-life rallies. I recall my mother carrying signs, and giving us little girls signs to carry which said things like, “Abortion Kills Children” and “Choose Life.” I remember watching the drivers react—some honking with approval and others honking and yelling at us with disgust. I remember not being sure why anyone would want to kill a baby in the first place, and wondering why such obvious statements would even need to be made. Whenever my mother spoke about abortion, it was with a vehement anger towards the practice. But, she taught us with strict kindness, never to condemn the men and women making these choices, because they didn’t actually know what they were doing. They had been tricked by doctors who told them that these little kicking, wriggling, hand sucking beings within them, were not babies after all—just pieces of tissue without “real” life. High school was the first time I met anyone who admitted to me personally that they had had an abortion. This was 1998, and my beautiful, blond haired, blue eyed friend, told me she had gotten pregnant by her boyfriend but needed to terminate it, because her pregnancy was ectopic. We were in Catholic High School, and we both knew that while sex before marriage was a sin, having an abortion was even worse. It was unthinkable. But in this situation, she truly had no other option. My friend explained that if her pregnancy wasn’t ended, not only would the baby die anyways, but she might actually die herself from internal bleeding. My eyes opened a bit wider than they’d been, and I realized the only correct and fathomable option for me was to love her and support her, without offering any hint of reproach or shame. Time went on and I completed high school and entered University. There seemed to be less and less reports of any “pro life” movements in my city or nation. It seemed to just be more and more accepted by society that abortion was a basic reproductive right that any woman should have access to. The only pro-life news coverage I did see always seemed to cover protesters who were tasteless, tactless and downright cruel towards women trying to enter a clinic. Or there was coverage of malicious individuals who would shoot abortion doctors as their method of protest. These were exactly the types of people I did NOT want to be associated with in ANY way. High school had taught me that not everyone who terminates a baby does so for convenience, and not everyone who has abortion, ever had any other choice. And so… for the most part, I did what every other “wise” pro-lifer I knew did… I shut up. I decided it was better to be tactful, keep peace, and since I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings in any way, I simply did, well, nothing. I became a closet pro-lifer, secretly grieving what abortion is, but afraid to say anything. And that is exactly what I have been. A silent, unoffending, pro-lifer, who keeps her thoughts to herself, because no, I don’t know each woman’s story, and no, I don’t ever want to hurt anyone. Fast forward 15 years later to last night. My small town had a private theatre showing of the movie “Unplanned”—based on the real life story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood Director who turned pro-life after witnessing abortions first hand. I didn’t want to go… in fact, I tried to think of many ways and reasons I shouldn’t see it, so as not to disturb my sensitive nature that doesn’t want to hurt anyone… or be hurt. I was worried the movie would distress me because it was Rated “R” and had graphic scenes of blood and gore. Actually, it wasn’t nearly as gory as I had expected. Do a Google Search of aborted babies (which I have done—reader be forewarned) and the real live images you’ll see are far more terrifying.
No, the movie wasn’t that distressing in imagery—but yes, it was entirely distressing in content. While I grimaced slightly at the blood, what actually shocked, horrified and distressed me, was Abby Johnson’s admission that she was complicit in 22,000 abortions. Now, she never personally performed these abortions. She wasn’t using the vacuum machines or putting pills down ladies’ throats. But she had encouraged these women in the process. And so, she was complicit. The moment I heard this, tears started to stream down my face. Because I realized in that dark, little theatre, that I too, in my dark, little, pro-life closet, have been complicit. Not just in 22,000 abortions… but in 100,000 abortions every single year in my nation of Canada. For some of these women, abortion would have actually been their only option. But for most, abortion was made to feel like their only option. And I, yes, I, the unoffending one, have been complicit with this through my silence. I have been complicit through total omission of any opposition. I have been complicit through my “sensitivity” to not ever want to hurt anyone by saying that those little kicking, wriggling, hand sucking beings, are not just pieces of tissue, but they are alive and they have a soul. And from 6 weeks on, they have beating hearts. And from 8 weeks on, they have started developing every organ they will ever have. And just after 20 weeks, science has now made it possible for some of these little humans to survive outside the womb. And 100,000 of them will be aborted this year in my nation. And if I continue to keep silent because I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, or make anyone feel guilty, or make anyone angry (since they think I’m judging them), I will again be complicit this year with the death of another 100,000 unborn children. So today, I took my daughters, age 5 and age 8, to an abortion clinic. I took them to the abortion clinic as a sign that I will no longer be complicit. On our way there, I made a stop to purchase three red roses. My eldest daughter was puzzled: “Are we going to a graveyard?” she asked me.
Wow. “Yes, honey, actually we are.”
We arrived at a stark grey building, with a playground filled with life across the street. I didn’t try to take my daughters inside the clinic. I didn’t give them a protest sign to hold. I didn’t march them around the property looking for attention. I took them to the edge of the gate, held their hands, and told them the sad terrible truth that in this place, and all across our free land, unborn babies are being destroyed en masse, and with very little opposition. And then, I prayed with them, asking God’s forgiveness for my own silent complicity and for the complicity of my nation. We prayed for the healing of the hearts of all the moms and dads who have lost children, and for the hearts of the doctors too. Then my girls took a turn to pray. My eldest daughter prayed for our Prime Minister, that God would show Mr. Trudeau the truth about abortion. My little one began her prayer with, “Dear Jesus, thank You that my mommy didn’t let anyone kill me when I was in her tummy….” I can’t describe the profundity of that moment or their prayers. With careful reverence, we placed the three roses on the edge of the fence, and walked away. Today I took my daughters to an abortion clinic to teach them about their reproductive rights. I wanted them to know that as women in Canada, unless something changes, they will always have a choice to elect an abortion, BUT, in my opinion, they will always have the reproductive right and duty to protect their children. I want my daughters to know they have the right to understand that an unborn baby is alive and human, whether they are 6 weeks or 36 weeks in the womb. And that human life is sacred, whether in utero, or out, and regardless of the circumstances. I want my daughters to know they have a right to know what abortion actually is—a way to get rid of an unwanted life. And they have the right to know that unless something changes, their tax dollars will be what pays for it. I want my daughters to know that they have the right to speak up and not be silent. I want them to know they have a right to hold up signs if they want to, or march the streets if they want to. I want them to know they have the right to lobby and challenge our government. Even more so, I want them to know they have the right to tell people truths that may hurt. Truths that will make people angry. Truths that will make my daughters unpopular. Truths that could get them fined or potentially land them in jail. I want them to know these rights. BUT, I will also teach them that these rights carry great responsibility. The responsibility to be kind—even when the truth feels unkind. To be loving—even when the truth feels unloving. To be humble. To never condemn or judge a man or woman who has ever lost a child to abortion because, no, we DON’T know their story, and even if we did, it’s not our story to bear. I want them to know that they must never laugh at, or mock, or disdain, or hate anyone who supports or is complicit with abortion. Our issue is not with people, but rather, with a mindset that governs those people.
Most of all, I want them to know that they must never allow the seeming widespread acceptance of abortion to desensitize their tender little hearts to what it is, or the grand scale on which it occurs in this nation. And if my beautiful daughters, age 5 and age 8, and your beautiful daughters, wherever they may be, can hold onto these hard horrible truths, then one day in this nation, protecting our reproductive rights will mean protecting unborn generations. Outside the Abortion Clinic —
Erin Wilson, mom of three living in Southern Alberta