The half hour lecture was an exercise in psycho-talk. So many ways to talk about people's feelings - no such simple thing as saying the word "guilt" or "remorse". Everything was cloaked in the language of prejudices and stereotypes.
Dr. Cook began by saying that one in three women will have an abortion during her lifetime. So therefore we can assume that many of the women sitting around us have likely had an abortion. It seems that, because abortion is so common, therefore we have to deal with it and destigmatize it. At one point in the question period, one student remarked that women who have had abortions need to have their "coming out of the closet" moment and thus free all women, much like the LBGT community has done with their gender issues.
I jotted down a few remarks that struck me as particularly indicative of the speaker's ideology:
Criminal law determines the sexual moral order.Dr. Cook had a voice that was like chocolate. I was struck by the soothing tone and the odd melodic quality of her speech. It was sort of like a mantra. I suspect that this is a learned technique when speaking to groups whose psyches might need massaging.
A woman should be treated with dignity, not as an instrument for the reproduction of the human race.
Risk of regret is inherent with every medical procedure.
Stereotypes are deeply imbedded, so we must really root them out.
We must be serious about dismantling prejudice and stigma.
Lack of access to abortion discriminates against the poor, and this is usually exhibited in racial discrimination.
* Canada is in company with only Cuba in having a progressive abortion law.
Teens are particularly vulnerable to stigmatization over abortion.
Women who have abortions are often "internally blemished" and need support.
Compared to the talk given last night by Stephen Woodworth on the definition of human life and Parliament's running from the abortion issue, like no other issue, this talk was the other side of the coin. Here we had declared the stand of the modern pro-choice woman. And you know what, it is all about me!
Absolutely no mention of the fetus, it gets no recognition. I wished that I had a video to jam into this session, the one that Stephanie Gray uses - the one that shows an actual abortion. You know, the one where you see the abortionist remove the little arm and then the little leg from the woman's vagina. Yes, it is gross but these women need to see what they are talking about.
Instead, all they have is words and psycho-speak. Words that hide the reality from their minds. They are running scared, these people. Any mention of abortion in Canada and these talks crop up, in an attempt to legitimize something that is horrific.
At one point, the speaker mentioned a case in Argentina where an 18 year old girl who was mentally deficient was trying to get an abortion (actually the authorities were trying to get the abortion for her) and two hospitals turned her down. Abortion to a certain point is legal in Argentina, but the speaker mentioned that the people involved in preventing the abortion were all Catholic.
Then she said that she had tried to write this chapter in her book without giving in to her anti-Catholic prejudices. The entire room laughed. To which she said "and I certainly do have anti-Catholic prejudices. I was not prepared to take on the Catholic Church, so I took on the Anglican Church of England instead."
Well, that might be a good choice since the Anglican Church is imploding rapidly over the issues of sexuality.
I wanted to ask this woman about the problem of guilt. The word was never once mentioned. Regret, shame were mentioned but never guilt. It seems that guilt has been eradicated from the vocabulary and the idea of stereotypes has been put in its place. If you feel guilty about something, it is because you have fallen prey to a stereotype. If you feel shame, it is because you have been discriminated into this position by society and we must work diligently to get rid of such prejudices.
I was sitting with an evangelical Protestant who remarked to me, when the lecture was over, that they were trying to deal with the psychological damage of abortion but they were completely neglecting the spiritual damage. It would seem that they have absolutely no belief in anything spiritual. Hence the intense desire to take on the Catholic Church, which may be the last institutional church proclaiming that we live for something beyond this life.
As I looked around the room, I counted 70 people present, one-fifth of which were men. I remembered the words of Angelina Steenstra when she walked in the March for Life last January in Washington, DC. She said the women's faces told her everything: she saw women mouthing thank you to her, she saw women with tears running down their faces, and she said she realised that she was looking at a completely post-abortive culture.
No amount of lecturing and papers and books on the stigma of abortion is going to help. Women will only come to peace on this issue when they can admit that they have done wrong and they seek forgiveness. The law is written on our hearts not to kill our brother, and we are trying to cover up the gruesome fact that we have and are killing our youngest brothers and sisters, our own children.
* How things are reversed depending on your position on abortion. In pro-life circles, it is called a shame that Canada keeps company with China and North Korea in having no protection for the unborn. Here in the law school, it is considered an honour to be in that league with Cuba of all nations.