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Fish Don't Have Fingernails
Hi everybody! Here's my column for today. Each week I write a syndicated parenting column that appears in several newspapers in Canada and the United States, and this is this week's. It's controversial. For those of you who don't know, Henry Morgentaler is the face of abortion in Canada. He fought to make it legal, and he opened up clinics all across the country. Anyway, see what you think:

In a very duplicitous and infantile way, our Governor General and her advisory committee have seen fit to appoint Henry Morgantaler with the Order of Canada. Michaelle Jean promised he wouldn’t be on the list; she denied it until the end; and when people phoned her office to protest, her staff gave them the phone number of the Campaign Life Headquarters. Laughing at pro-lifers is not what the Governor General is meant to do. Nevertheless, it seems that we’re stuck with this sort of judgment until Stephen Harper finally gets to appoint his own Governor General.

As a teenager, I attended the church located next door to Morgentaler’s first clinic in Toronto. We knew the police who were assigned to guard his clinic by name. Researching Morgentaler at the time, I came across an article where he stated that to him, a fetus was nothing more than a fish.

In the recent blockbuster movie Juno, though, the 16-year-old girl who is about to
procure an abortion changes her mind because a classmate informs her that her fetus already has fingernails. And that makes all the difference, because Juno, unlike Morgantaler, knows that fish do not have fingernails.

Personally, I believe that life begins at conception. But I do understand those who say that despite the fingernails, despite the heartbeat, despite the obvious baby features, a mother should not be forced to carry the baby to term. It is still her body.

While I don’t agree with that position, I respect it. What I don’t understand is this compulsion to celebrate abortion. Even liberal Bill Clinton felt the need to qualify that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”. Though he supported abortion, he knew that there was something fundamentally distasteful about the procedure. In a day when we're used to squinting over "Baby's First Picture" to try to figure out where the head is on that ultrasound printout, the face of abortion has quite literally changed.

Most of us, I think, agree, which is why we react in horror to Planned Parenthood’s gross marketing ploys, like the “Choice on Earth” Christmas cards, or the “I Had an Abortion” t-shirts. Abortion proponents hope that by normalizing abortion they’ll take the shame and stigma out of it. It doesn’t work. Even those who want it kept legal would rather not think about it or talk about it, because it just isn’t nice.

That’s because each of the roughly three million abortions which have been performed in Canada represents a failure on a multitude of levels. First it is a failure of responsibility. Two people were sexually irresponsible, and now they need a way out. It’s also a failure on the part of the father. Either he rejoices because he gets off free and clear, or he’s in mourning for a child he has no way to protect. It’s a failure for women, too, no matter what Michaelle Jean may say about it. Women tend to want commitment, love, and romance far more than men do. Whose sexual desires, then, does abortion best serve? It’s not women’s. Abortion opens the door to men’s dreams of sex without consequences. Everything is now entirely her responsibility. And if things go wrong, she is the one making the appointment, sitting in the stirrups, and in many cases dealing with the guilt afterwards. Tell me again why this is good for her?

Finally, it’s fundamentally a moral failing, even if you don’t believe abortion is murder. Rather than sacrificing her body and choosing to let her baby live, even if it is with another family (for every child today is wanted, even if not by its biological parents), the woman is putting her own comfort and dreams first. It is ultimately a selfish act, and normally we don’t praise selfishness.

You can celebrate abortion all you want, but that doesn’t change its underlying nature. There’s an old proverb that says “what sorrow is there for those who say that evil is good, and good evil.” We can say abortion is great, but that doesn’t make it so, in the same way that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Maybe instead of praising abortion and honouring its biggest proponent, all of us, pro-life and pro-choice, should work together to end this act which represents our society at its worst.

Here's one of the hard parts about writing a column: I only have 700 words. And I can see so much that I left out of this one. I left out any reference to the guilt that she may be feeling afterwards, and that it wasn't my intention to exacerbate that. I could have been nicer in that regard.

I don't think my either-or when it comes to men is fair. I said that men either are relieved or grieving; there's probably more commonly a middle ground, and ambivalence that I didn't leave room for.

And I left out any reference that society had failed, too. But I'm not sure if that's true. We say that all the time: society failed this girl, so that she felt she had no choice. But is that true? If a girl wants to keep a baby, she can get welfare, she can go to a crisis centre and get help. Or she can put the baby up for adoption, and there's tons of medical care available in that scenario. So perhaps society hasn't failed, it's just that these options aren't easy and they take a long time.

Anyway, I hope the column goes over well. I always get nervous about these ones!

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At 9:57 AM , Blogger Crazy Lady Cheryl said…

I like that you were able to simplify this to: It's selfish. That is the bottom line. There is no responsibility on the man's side; and the woman can so quickly be relieved of her 'problem.' So very sad, but it is my hope and prayer that someone considering an abortion read your column and at least one newborn will see the world in 2009 as a direct result of her changing her mind.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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