Tuesday, 15 July 2008

No-choice Vulture Culture: let women die or go to prison

The vituperative backlash of no-choicers, following the announcement that Dr Henry Morgentaler would be awarded the Order of Canada, was informative. Like maggots suddenly exposed to the light, the no-choicers scurried about, firing off letters to the editor, freeping online opinion polls, shoving the usual suspects - Margaret Somerville et al - into public view to spout the fetus fetishizing party line. CanWest obliged them, in great numbers.

It was thus no surprise that middle-of-the road Canadians, that ’silent majority’ that abortion criminalizers claim as supporters, recoiled from the hateful propaganda and deliberate lies and declared themselves to favour the decision to honour Morgentaler.

There is history behind all of this brouhaha, and a Montreal Gazette reporter writes about it:

When Sharon Hager finally got a abortion in 1964, she feared it would kill her. “It was hell, terrible. I thought I was going to die,” recalled Hager, then 20 and living in Vancouver.“It was illegal to have an abortion and it almost impossible to find someone to do it. A man who called himself a doctor - and you didn’t know for sure he was - came to my home and on the kitchen table put gauze in my womb and broke my water. … That’s what it was like before Dr. Morgentaler,” said Hager, later a member of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. “People forget how terrible it was for women.”
Many of us remember. The Royal Victoria Hospital, mentioned in the Gazette article, is where my friend O trained.
There is also a compelling background to the booklet that was produced by a group of students at McGill University in the 1960’s. In
her 2006 essay, Christabelle Sethna traces the evolution and the context of the Birth Control Handbook. This list (quoted in The Gazette article) from the 1971 BCH - as it was known - details the fatal dangers of illegal abortion techniques, self-induced or assisted.

… These methods involve extreme pain and can lead to permanent disability, infection or death.

Oral means: Nothing that is swallowed can cause abortion without also causing death or severe disability to the mother.
• Ergot compounds- overdose is poison.
• Quinine sulphate - can cause deformities in fetus or death to mother.

Solids inserted into uterus: Common danger of perforation of womb and
bladder - death from infection or hemorrhage.
• Knitting needles
• Coat hangers
• Slippery Elm bark
• Ballpoint pen
• Pastes
• Catheters
• Gauze (packing)
• Curtain rods
• Telephone wire

Fluids inserted into the uterus: Severe burning of tissues, hemorrhage,
shock and possible death.
• Soap suds
• Alcohol
• Potassium permanganate
• Lye
• Lysol
• Pine oil

Air pumped into uterus: gas emboli in the blood stream. Immediately
fatal.

Injections into uterine wall: Overdose is toxic.
• Ergot
• Pytocin
• Sodium pentothal

Vacuum cleaner: Connected to uterus - not to be confused with vacuum
aspiration - is fatal almost immediately. Rips uterus from pelvic area.

Even though they claim to be ‘the culture of life’, no-choicers have declared their intent to criminalize abortion and, in effect, to return to the days of illegal abortions. As Antonia Zerbasias notes and quotes in this article, no-choicers propose that women who attempt to terminate an abortion be charged and prosecuted.

Mary Ellen Douglas, National Organizer, Campaign Life Coalition: Our society has denied justice for unborn children who are killed daily in their mothers’ wombs at the request of the mother. We need
to correct this and return that protection to the unborn. It then follows that jail time for those who commit the crime of abortion is not only just, but absolutely necessary.

This is the future that women dealing with unintended pregnancies will face, if the no-choice Vulture Culture re-criminalizes abortion.

First posted at Birth Pangs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One thing which the no-choicers always seem to forget is that when a real live person dies, and we don't know how the person died, there is a homicide investigation to rule out foul play.

If a fetus is declared to be a person, then this newly-defined person should get all the rights of a person, including a homicide investigation into all miscarriages ("death by unknown cause").

Most no-choicers poo-poo this idea, which only goes to show that even they don't believe that what they're fighting for is "civil rights for fetuses." They're only fighting to limit the civil rights of women, and investigating a miscarriage is irrelevant to their real goals.

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