The people around me in my intensely secular-materialist upbringing and environment don’t want to hear it or believe it, but I have come to believe that abortion is wrong 99.99% of the time – wrong according to my religion; wrong for society; wrong as an example to teens; wrong as an affront to simple human dignity. The “Safe, Legal, and Rare” mantra of the 1990s is a cop-out – “rare” can mean anything, while “legal” implies moral superiority over those who believe that a fetus is a human life that must be protected. (Meanwhile, Canada’s mantra seems to be “Safe, Legal, and Available Free at Any Point in your Pregnancy” – we have no abortion law here.)
The sorrow of a generation of “emancipated” women is the untold story of the abortion debate. This brief column by one of my favourite former National Post columnists, Elizabeth Nickson, found its way into a weekly left-leaning ad-rag, “The Women’s Post”. I found it so poignant and moving, that I’ll capture the whole thing here for posterity:
Refusing to breed
Published: May 4 2007
by Elizabeth Nickson
Elites inevitably end up eating themselves, which is why the abortion debate remains so interesting. If you look at abortion rates in the States, they are “safe, legal and rare,” only in redneck states like Mississippi at 45 abortions for every 1000 births, compared to 600 abortions per 1000 births in California, and even larger numbers in D.C., and New York. In other words, the classes most likely to kill their children are the best educated, the well-heeled, and the booksmart. Too bad, cause we could use those babies today, as birth rates crash, and entire countries descend into the “catastrophic” position of 1.2 live births per woman.
I will never forget a moment one afternoon in Portland, Oregon, when the wife of a leading member of the Christian Coalition waved at an empty playground as we passed and said, “those playgrounds were built to be used by the millions of children who were killed by their mothers.” It is good, though chilling, to talk to people on both sides of the debate. I fall on the other side for the most part. I think that the ’70s, when abortion became legal, marked a social shift as important as the abolition of slavery. An entire generation of women, freed from a lifetime of dependency.
And for the most part, the refusal to breed of fully half the women who graduated from university in the years between 1968 and 1974, was the key. We want change, said the flowers of our culture. We want more. We want to study, to work, to travel alone, to love many rather than one, we want to grow. And so they did and everything changed. It turned out that women in the work force made the economy boom and millions who could only dream of things experienced in the 50s were available to the middleclass.
But still, all my friends who are childless mourn for their lost children. It is a subject so painful, few can discuss it. They drop hints, and at high holidays and summers, the sound of the children they didn’t have, at play is the saddest sound we hear. I hope we change again. I wish that all women could have their treasured children and thrilling, exciting beautiful lives, filled with freedom and contributions that will extend our first world benefits to the whole green world.
Elizabeth Nickson is a Canadian freelance journalist.