Wednesday, 27 February 2008

An open letter to Mary Talbot

No one can possibly imagine the horror, the grief and the rage one feels when a daughter is murdered, unless one has experienced it. So I will not condescend to you, Mary Talbot. Nor will I will say “I feel your pain” - because my own daughter is alive and well, in spite of the fact there wasn’t a moment during her childhood, and still now, that I lived without the awareness that someone could do irreparable harm to her. I can still remember one terrifying hour; I lost sight of her during a ferry crossing from the BC mainland to Swartz Bay, while Clifford Olson was still at large.

Nonetheless, I am directing this open letter to you, since you have chosen to become the public champion and staunch defender of Bill C-484.

Do you understand that this amendment will do nothing to protect women - pregnant or not - and their zygote/embryo/fetus or their children against brutal, murderous violence?

One might even comprehend this self-serving campaign, if C-484 resulted in a more severe sentence for the man found guilty of murdering your daughter. As it so happens, that is not the case, as stated on Court TV, where Ken Epp appeared on Monday evening. Such factual information doesn’t seem to get in the way of the adulation you garner as the Poster Grandmother of anti-choice organizations.

The thing that confounds me is this: how could you let these groups of religious fanatics, political opportunists and fundamentalist hypocrites exploit your grief? What were you thinking when you provided them with a photo of your daughter and her fetus in their funeral casket? Why stop there? Why not supply them with the police and coroner’s pictures of her stabbed, bloody abdomen too? After all, isn’t it supposed to be all about the crime?

Or could it really be about the redemption that you were vicariously seeking through your daughter’s choice? You thought you had lost Olivia to drugs. Then she found herself pregnant, and through the possibility of motherhood, she re-created a new life for her own self, as she was giving life.

Did you grab this second chance? Did you see an opportunity to atone for whatever recriminations that you must have felt when she was following a self-destructive path? Tragically, your expectations of becoming a grandmother were destroyed, as her life ended with her murder.

I have not lost a daughter, but I have lost a beloved sister to ovarian cancer. The very same biological source of life-giving power that you and I have experienced turned against her. Instead of giving life, those cells gave her death. I am still grieving my sister’s unwarranted, incomprehensible, horrifying death.

But I would surely not allow photographs of my dead sister lying in a coffin or of her disease-ravaged body to be propagated across the internet, even in support of increased funding for ovarian cancer research. That would be manipulative. That would not be respectful to her memory.

This was written in response to Mary Talbot’s letter in the Ottawa Citizen. I do not dispute the depth of her anguish, but I disagree with her political tactics.

A big thanks to ‘we move to canada’ for the prompt blog about Mary Talbot’s intervention on Court TV.

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