Wednesday, October 13, 2010

United Church Minister Speaks on Abortion ......

Religious, not anti-choice
Wed, Oct 13 - 5:32 PM

I did not realize that human capital had become another tool added to the anti-choice minority’s arsenal until I was being yelled at by a private nursing home operator.

I had come to visit a parishioner who was being fed by the owner/operator at 10:30 a.m. I was a little surprised that my parishioner was just out of bed but sat down quietly to wait. The owner turned to me and in a rage declared that as a United Church minister I was part of this "problem" of the late breakfast.

She ranted that if all the babies that had been aborted were alive she would have no problem getting workers. It did not occur to me to question how she could know whether theoretical fetuses would grow up to be continuing-care attendants. I might also have suggested to her that the reason she could not keep attendants might have something to do with low wages or even, perhaps, her temper.

Again, in the Oct. 4 edition of this paper, I see this argument being resurrected by the anti-choice coalition. Essentially, pregnancy should be enforced in order to repopulate the labour pool.

It seems a strange religious response. This "enforced pregnancy" movement exists at a time when we are greatly relaxing protocols around end-of-life care. Not enough labourers and too many seniors coming through the pipes. Is someone doing the math and concluding that women better be forced to have children? It may be one explanation for the increased anti-choice rhetoric these days.

Many mainline denominations support access to safe, early abortion for women who are experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. Women’s minds and bodies bear the permanent brunt of pregnancy. Birth injuries cost societies around the world an incredible amount of money and long-term pain and anguish for families.

There are some very good reasons why obstetricians have such high insurance rates and why we cannot train enough of them. Pregnancy is fraught with unexpected medical difficulties. After birth, women still bear the primary financial, emotional and physical responsibilities for the raising of children. A woman has the right to determine whether she will bear these burdens.

Some of us, clergy and lay, gathered together to craft a response to the anti-choice coalition. Our ad hoc, quickly formed ecumenical group settled on these words: "The anti-choice movement claims to represent the only religious response. In fact, many women and men of faith support a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. We are profoundly saddened that some people are still trying to shame and harass women who are making the best choice they can in their circumstances.

"We believe that people of faith should be offering the hand of friendship to support women in need and should be advocating for the availability of safe, inexpensive contraceptives; legal, medically-insured compassionate abortion services; and licensed, affordable, quality child care. God expects that we will use the tremendous powers of intelligence and compassion given to us to make good decisions for ourselves and for our world. We are asking people of faith to celebrate Forty Days of Prayer to Keep Abortion Safe and Legal."

Let me conclude with this quotation comes from prayers written by Faith Aloud ( "We pray for women, for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices. We pray for compassionate religious voices to speak out for the dignity and autonomy of women. We pray for our daughters and granddaughters, that they will always know the power of making their own good decisions."

Linda Yates is minister at St. John’s United Church in Halifax.

And one notable comment by B Sacamano:

One wonders just how many people Rev. Yates' ecumenical group represents. As I recall, St. John's United would be the same church that's being turned into condos and seniors housing because most of their congregation is either deceased or nearly so. Moreover, considering the United Church's precipitous decline since it embraced it's post-Christian "social justice" spiritualism (more than any other mainline church in Canada), one has to wonder if Rev. Yates and her friends speak for that many people of faith at all.

For my part, while I certainly don't condone the limitation of abortion to simply increase the labour pool, the decline of Canada's birthrate to below replacement levels is a serious issue, and one that deserves serious debate. I can also say that I have had the opportunity to walk by the 40 Days protesters on a regular basis--and while I don't agree with their position, they conduct themselves in a very dignified manner--sometimes in the face of ugly responses from the pro-abortion side.

In the final analysis, while I disagree with those that would make abortion illegal, I must confess that I am also troubled by Christians who cheer abortion, the "relaxing" of end of life protocols, and demean those with whom they disagree.

I have written a response to The Chronicle Herald, and am waiting to see if they publish it.


Terry Spearns said...

Let me start by saying that a little over 25 years ago, I had a son whom I gave up for adoption, and everything I say comes from experience, not from reading and regurgitating so-called facts.

“A woman dies every eight minutes because she doesn’t have the right to proper abortion practices.” Fact? I doubt it. A woman can’t die every eight minutes … a woman can only die once! Even worded properly, I question this “fact”, because unfortunately, in many parts of the world, and in Canada in particular, women do have the right (and access) to proper (and legal) abortion practices.

It amazes me, however, how secretive the access is to these legal abortions. Here in Halifax abortions are performed on the fifth floor of the Victoria building of the QEII Health Sciences Centre. This is a locked unit, with absolutely no unescorted access. There are no signs to say what goes on behind these secured doors. Why is that? Perhaps they realize that what they are doing is wrong.

Why should a patient going in for an abortion be afforded any more privacy than one who is going in for bowel surgery? Both are very personal issues, but no one is barred from the ninth floor … only the fifth.

I take very personal exception to minister Linda Yate’s use of the word “anti-choice”. Use the words you really mean – anti-life, or pro-death! Choice is definitely a factor, but not in the way you use it.

Now I’m speaking from my experience. It was my CHOICE to have sex. When I realized I was pregnant, it was my CHOICE to take responsibility for my actions. It was my CHOICE to carry my baby to full term and deliver him. It was my CHOICE to give him up for adoption.

Because I didn’t abort my baby, don’t you dare call me “anti-choice”! There were many choices presented to me; thankfully I chose the ones that led to life!

Undoubtedly you will bring up the fact that some women don’t have the choice to have sex. These are the facts that I challenge you to research. From what I’ve been told, it is a very small percentage of women who were raped or involved in incestuous acts who have abortions (perhaps I’ll take my own challenge and research this myself, and not rely on hearsay!). Regardless, two wrongs never make a right.

I thank God every day for the life of my son (whom I met six years ago and still maintain a relationship), and I pray for the success of the 40 Days for Life Campaign.

Terry Spearns

Julie C said...

Terry's comment makes Yates' "human capital" look as grisly as her argument is.