Dear UBC Lifeline,
You are obviously a passionate group.
However, I want you to challenge yourself to think about the following question: what have you really done to prevent abortion?
No one wants to have an abortion — it is never a desired outcome. Some things that have been proven to effectively prevent it include comprehensive sexual education, accessible contraceptives, and free childcare and healthcare. Abortion rates decrease when unwanted pregnancies are prevented before they occur. Giving people options to continue to have a career, continue their education and have the freedom to pursue their goals after giving birth also decreases abortion rates by creating a society where a child has access to social services that ensures survival. Accessible healthcare not only allows individuals to have full command over whether or not they want to reproduce, but can also assist in the prevention of sexually transmitted illnesses, which are also a danger to life.
So I want to challenge you, besides displaying graphic and unsettling posters to “provoke conversation” — according to one of UBC Lifeline’s members at the demonstration — what have you done to prevent abortion? Have you supported the push towards comprehensive sexual education? Are you giving people access to resources that would provide them with cheap or free contraceptives? Do you vote for political parties that vow to make childcare in reach for all?
Furthermore, if you really advocate for the lives of all, how do you feel about the 68,000 women that die annually from unsafe abortions, mainly in developing countries? Do you advocate for better support of maternal health to prevent death during childbirth? Or do you donate to charities that would allow social structures to be in place to allow these women to raise their children to have a fulfilling life?
Additionally, you push for adoption as an alternative option. According to the 2011 Canadian Census, 47,885 children are in the foster care system. Many of these children are Aboriginal, pushed into the system as a result of poverty, poor housing and/or substance abuse.
So I further want to challenge you to think, what are you doing to prevent poverty? Are you providing affordable housing? Stopping the epidemic of drug overdoses? Do you provide respite care for foster children? Do you donate your time to be a mentor? Have you considered becoming a court-appointed special advocate to help the system understand what is best for a particular child?
Lastly, you frame abortion as a human rights concern. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”
Can you honestly say that you have fought for access to healthcare for the poor, who may not exist in a privileged society such as ours? The lives of all are obviously valuable to you, this should include those beyond the womb, such as people suffering from HIV, malaria, malnutrition, cholera, measles and so many more diseases. Many of these deaths are preventable by vaccination, accessible healthcare, and improved sanitation; in my opinion, the advocation for the rights of those already living should take precedence.
I know everyone has freedom of thought, as well as peaceful assembly, both of which you have full right to exercise in a country like Canada. What I want to challenge you to do is consider the solutions to what you recognize as an issue. I want to encourage you to push towards fulfilling them in a meaningful way, rather than showing graphic photos of abortion meant to shame women away from choice.
Kirsten Tarasoff is a second-year student studying gender, race, sexuality and social justice.