This post was written for the 25th anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler in 2013. This year, Jan. 28 2014 marks the 26th anniversary.
By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director
My great uncle was several years younger than I am now when he died, only one week away from his 20th birthday. Gavin Richmond’s name is inscribed on the Vimy Ridge Memorial and his life is counted among the 62,820 Canadians who were killed in the First World War. He was part of a generation decimated by the war.
They fought for our freedom and are rightly commemorated for it. But we have not used that freedom responsibly; we have failed to protect the most vulnerable and innocent in our society from a violent death. Today we mourn a shameful anniversary that has made possible the extermination of the lives of a quarter of our generation, but these deaths have no Remembrance Day. They largely go unnoticed and unmourned and, even more horrific, the slaughter continues day after day.
Ours is a generation of survivors. We, the remaining 75%, made it out alive – though some more narrowly than others. I have worked with students whose parents chose life when facing pressure to abort and others whose parents aborted their siblings. Many of us are probably unaware of the twisted legacy abortion has carved in the branches of our family trees.
Dr. Morgentaler’s oft-repeated mantra – still used on every Morgentaler clinic website – is: Every mother a willing mother. Every child a wanted child. This must make us, I suppose, the “wanted” generation that Morgentaler spoke of. Our parents could have aborted us if they had wanted. They were given, in neo-Roman fashion, the power of life or death over their children – death that was, of course, sanitized, state-sanctioned, and even funded by the public’s own tax dollars.
Abortion on demand, made possible through the Supreme Court’s ruling 25 years ago, changed our society with ‘wantedness’ determining whether we live or die for the first nine months of our lives. Yet we do not choose life or death for born humans according to whether or not they are ‘wanted’ or ‘unwanted’. The thought of classifying human beings in such a manner is profoundly disturbing – or ought to be.
When my own grandmother was pregnant with my father in the 1950s she did not decide to go forward with it based on whether or not he was wanted. (What decision would she have made, I have to wonder, if abortion on demand had been offered to her?) She carried a new life within her and looked out for his best interest by deciding to have my father adopted and raised by a couple who wanted a child. Despite Dr. Morgentaler’s classification of children as ‘wanted’ or ‘unwanted’, the fact is that children are children regardless of how we feel about their arrival. What is up to us is how we treat them.
Those of us who survived now have the opportunity and the obligation to secure the freedom of the next generation. We grew up in the shadow of R. v. Morgentaler with one quarter of our generation missing, but we are now capable young adults: we cannot abandon the next generation to such a fate. Twenty-five years of R. v. Morgentaler is twenty-five years too long. This culture of abortion on demand may be a stubborn shadow, but we can cast it out if we shine all the brighter with the light of truth, love and life.