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Andrea Mrozek

Opinion

Too long to wait for an abortion? What about the women who long for a child?

Andrea Mrozek

September 5, 2017 (Convivium) — There are the Canadian women whose waiting doesn’t matter. And then there are the Canadian women whose waiting is especially terrible and reported on at regular intervals. 

The Canadian Press reported on August 15 that a 29-year-old whose birth control failed got the abortion she wanted. Except it wasn’t quite fast enough. She waited too long for her abortion, she says. She waited two months. This was reported in major media outlets across the country. “Abortion access in Nova Scotia among worst in Canada, advocates say,” read the headline.

Women always get their abortions — so far not one story of an abortion denied — but the agony of the waiting: that’s the story.

There are other women, waiting. They are waiting for pregnancies. Statistically, women are trying at older ages to have children. Time is not on their side. They still know of women who managed to get pregnant at 42 or 45, and it keeps them going. They take vitamins. They try acupuncture. They stimulate ovulation. They take hormonal supplements. They are poked and prodded. They change their diets. And they wait.

For some women, infertility is painful and every pregnancy announcement is like a stab in the side.

Merely two months of waiting would be a dream come true.

For some women, infertility is painful and every pregnancy announcement is like a stab in the side. 

Abortion announcements, on the other hand, are much, much worse. A much-coveted conception, cast aside. One woman’s treasure is another woman’s imposition. Or disposition. Don’t you know, it’s all about personal choice? Don’t ask why, because any reason is a good reason. And don’t let those women wait. They can’t wait. The waiting makes them (so they say) feel shame. Not the abortion. The waiting.

Of course, waiting too long for an abortion has the terrible complication of delivering a baby. Early in the first trimester, one can more easily be deceived into wondering whether that is actually true. But every woman knows the end point is a baby and that is why abortions must be done quickly. At 12 weeks, for wanted pregnancies, eager mothers learn how the fingers of their babies are opening and closing, how the baby’s mouth makes sucking movements.

It’s better to get an abortion before the fingers start opening and closing. Before you know that the 12-week-old is making sucking movements.

When the Canadian Press reported that Nova Scotia is “among the worst in Canada, advocates say, for abortion access,” there should have been heavier emphasis on “advocates say.”

For advocates, there’s no abortion that shouldn’t be done sooner. Sometimes they get it wrong, publicly, as in the recent case in Newfoundland where a 12-year-old got a quick abortion and then another. It turns out her stepfather was abusing her. But there was no time to ask.

Advocates for abortion in Nova Scotia, it also turns out, have no data — something we learn in the fourth to last paragraph of the story: “Nova Scotia does not appear to keep statistics on how long it takes women to obtain an abortion after a referral.”

Still, the story sailed through under the headline about “worst in Canada” wait times for abortion. No editor batted an eye. A woman said she waited. And these women must not wait.  

What abortion advocates want is to have their cake and eat it too. Abortion is such a hard decision, they say. Not at all easy, they say. Meanwhile, here, they want no time allotted to making that tough decision. No reflection. No waiting. This particular hard decision must be made quickly.

Melanie Mackenzie’s story was the lead for the Canadian Press article: “It was the worst two months of my life. The whole thing felt like a punishment,” she said.

That feeling of punishment is something some infertile women, feel too. Did I do something wrong? Why won’t pregnancy happen for me?

For women waiting for pregnancy, if they’ve had abortions in the past, that waiting is all the more a punishment.

It shouldn’t be. But one can forgive them for feeling that way. 

Women get pregnant and they get abortions. Women wait for conceptions that they then track diligently through all gestational stages, holding their breath till a baby is born.

When women are waiting for pregnancy, they’re not allowed to say it hurts when reporters conjure up headlines about abortions that did happen, just not quite fast enough.

So many women in Canada waiting. But only one group has a loud lobby who will push non-stories to reporters.

The rest? They can wait.

Andrea Mrozek is the program director of Cardus Family. Prior to joining Cardus, she was the Executive Director at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada where she wrote and spoke about marriage, child care, women's issues and how family life affects the economy, and vice versa.

​Reprinted with permission from Convivium.

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