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Illinois Federation

For Right to Life

Daily News

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lengthy Globe and Mail Article Explores Women's Experiences with Abortion


A lengthy opinion piece printed in Saturday's Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, asks why - 20 years after the legalization of abortion, and at a time when some 100,000 abortions a year take place in Canada - most women are reluctant to speak about their abortion experiences. In the title the author asks, "Why not just talk about it?"


Cate Cochran, the pro-abortion author of the Globe piece, explains that in 1987, at the age of 30, she nearly went through with an abortion. She describes the turmoil of that time in her life: "One morning, my hands shaking, I dialed the Morgentaler clinic in Toronto and made an appointment for an abortion. Then I climbed into my bed and cried. It seems like I stayed there for days, trying to reconcile myself to my situation."


In the end Cochran says she decided against the abortion and cancelled the appointment. She does not explain why she changed her mind. Several weeks later, she had a miscarriage and lost her unborn child through natural causes. She admits that even up till now she rarely talks about those weeks, which were "among the most intense in my adult life."


It is the decision to award Morgentaler the Order of Canada, she says, that has got her asking why abortion is still surrounded by an almost deafening silence. "Why," she asks, "is it acceptable to sit around a dinner table and talk about colonoscopies, hot flashes and Viagra, but not about our abortion experiences? Why don't I know whether any of the women in my book club have had an abortion when I'm familiar with so many other intimate details of their lives?"


Cochran goes on to relate several more anecdotes of women who have obtained abortions who have been loathe to speak about the experience, despite being confirmedly pro-abortion.


Amongst these women is one of Canada's foremost pro-abortion activists - Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition. At the age of 30 Arthur aborted her unborn child, a decision that she says "was the best decision I could have made at the time." Despite this, however, Arthur avoided publicly admitting that she had gone through with the procedure for many years - even until long after she became a well-known pro-abortion activist.


In fact, it wasn't until Arthur was giving a live radio interview and was asked straight-up if she had had an abortion that she finally came clean.  "Out of the blue the host asked me, 'Have you had an abortion yourself?'" she relates, "and I hesitated and said, 'Yes.' It felt good, over all. I realized that was important. Too many women are silent, and there's nothing to be ashamed of, so why not just talk about it? I was in a position to set an example."


But despite Arthur's example and the efforts of numerous other pro-abortion activists and organizations to normalize the procedure by encouraging women to publicly talk about their own abortions, Cochran admits that most women would rather stay silent.


In the end Cochran seems unable to offer a satisfactory answer her own question, "Why not just talk about it?" The answer, she suggests, is simply that abortion is a "painful" and "irrevocable" choice that has to do with the "potential for life."


"I'm beginning to understand my silence," she writes. I can see why anyone would be reluctant to discuss a painful decision that is irrevocable; it's about the potential for a new life."


"No matter how convinced you are that terminating a pregnancy is the right decision, it's still a fateful choice clouded in doubt."


Cochran observes that increasingly women are, in fact, speaking out about their abortion. However, she does not mention anywhere in the article two increasingly well-known and successful groups whose sole purpose is to provide an opportunity for their members to publicly speak out about their abortion experiences.


Silent No More, and Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC) are advocacy groups that bring together hundreds of women who have gone through an abortion, and who then travel around telling people about their abortions.


The answer of these groups to the question of why women are reluctant to speak about their abortions is radically different from Cochran's.


"The National Silent No More Awareness Campaign is an effort to make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women, men and their families," says the SNMAC. "The emotional and physical pain of abortion will no longer be shrouded in secrecy and silence, but rather exposed and healed. This effort is a key to make abortion unthinkable and to persuade society that women deserve better than abortion."


One woman from SNMAC who agrees with Cochran that women's experiences with abortion should no longer be kept shrouded in an unhealthy silence is Debby Fisher, who told the Canadian March for Life in 2005, "After my abortion 19 years ago, an intern asked me to be quiet when I was calling out for my [aborted] baby, because I was upsetting people in the recovery room."


"I remained silent until last year, when I saw women like me standing up to proclaim 'I regret my abortion' for the first time at the National Silent No More Awareness Campaign rally in Ottawa. I knew God was calling me to be silent no more."


Contact: John Jalsevac


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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection for the disabled and the elderly.   Click here to learn more about the IFRL.