**NOTE: This is my newspaper column for this week. I've decided to reproduce it in it's entirety here as I'm interested in what others have to say on this topic and the questions I raise.
I’m not normally a wishy-washy person. Nor am I, despite what some may say, a non-feminist. But I do often question my stance on abortion. I often say I’m pro-choice politically, but pro-life personally. If you understand that, you’ll understand where the incentive for this column came from.
Despite the fact that I don’t consider abortion an option for myself, I know not every woman feels that way. And I don’t want to take away any woman’s right to make that decision for herself. I don’t think anyone is really for abortion itself, rather for a woman’s right to chose what happens to her body.
In support of abortion, I understand that there are some women, and girls, for whom abortion is a very valid and reasonable choice. Certainly any woman who has been raped should have the option open to her. So should any woman whose health, either physical or mental, is at risk. Crack-addicted 14 year olds and perpetually drunk mothers of seven are probably better off not bringing their progeny forth. That’s my personal opinion; I know some will differ in their beliefs.
I know that these are not the only people who seek abortions. It is open to all. Every woman in Canada, whether I personally believe her choice is valid, can make the choice to have an abortion. I think that that’s the way it should be.
Interestingly, Canada has no real abortion laws. Certainly, abortion is legal, but only in that it’s not illegal. It is completely and utterly unrestricted. A woman in her 38th week of pregnancy could, if she could find a doctor willing to do it, have an abortion. I think this is an area that does need to be addressed. However legislating anything around abortion is a political minefield and could lead to a very slippery slope.
A woman would not find a doctor willing to perform such a procedure. Apparently it is getting more difficult to find a doctor willing to perform an abortion at all. Outside of actual abortion clinics, the procedure is hard to get.
However, when a woman does decide abortion is her best choice and she finds a practitioner willing to do it, it is covered one hundred percent by our healthcare system. No matter who, where, or how old, it is covered.
This, too, I don’t think is wrong. I would certainly rather see a scared sixteen year old at the Morgentaler clinic than in some cheap motel room having her boyfriend beat her until she miscarries. It is a tragic enough decision for a woman to make, she shouldn’t have to be forced out of it due to financial restraints.
However, while I don’t think it’s wrong for our healthcare dollars to fund abortion, I do think it’s wrong to do so in the absence of funding the opposite. And while terminating a pregnancy is completely unrestricted in Canada, creating one is not.
It is illegal to purchase donor sperm, eggs, or embryos in Canada. It is illegal to pay someone to be a surrogate mother. And while in rare cases some fertility treatments are covered under provincial healthcare plans, the majority are not.
Every woman in our nation who chooses abortion has it legally and financially available to her. But women and couples who chose to have children do not have the same rights. Their rights are not protected by our healthcare dollars or our laws.
A couple that desperately wants a child but cannot reproduce in the “natural” way face some hefty costs from $100 for a single round of clomid to $17,000 for in-vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. And, unfortunately, the success rates are often low, meaning couples may have to pay those fees two or three times before they experience a successful pregnancy.
In Newfoundland, our government will pay you $2200 to have a baby. That’s $1000 upon delivery with monthly instalments of $100 for the next year. I’m not arguing against this.
When our youngest was born, that money came in very handy. But to someone who finally did conceive and carry a child to term after spending $30,000 of their own money, it would be a mere drop in the well of their child-related debt.
To those families that cannot afford fertility treatment, the $2200 is a slap in the face. Our government will not invest in helping them conceive, but it rewards those who do.
In my mind I picture two women. One has just peed on her fifth pregnancy test, all positive. Another has done the same, all negative. As much as the first woman is devastated, so is the second. But there’s a key difference. One has power over what happens to her body, the other does not.
We, as a nation, protect and help the first woman; we turn our backs on the second.
I don’t think that’s right.
What do you think?