Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Causes

The other week we were flying back from a weekend vacation (a whole weekend of uninterrupted sleep and adult time with my husband) - and I did not have alot of reading material on my iPad and I was tired of scrabble, so I was reading the case law I had pulled sometime ago in support of my case. I was reading the Morgentaler decision - the decision that struck down Canada's abortion law in 1988 - there are so many striking parallels between a woman's access to abortion and a woman's access to planned cesarean. I was thinking how sad it is - how clear the law seems to be on the issues, yet at the same time - how insurmountable the challenge ahead is seeming. I was also thinking about how my experience changed me and mourning the loss of the wife and mother my husband and kids deserved to have - the woman who, had things unfolded differently, would be thinking and doing so many other things - a woman who would not be burdened by a cause.

Having a cause is a lot like having a chronic illness. A cause isn't something you give passing attention to - nor is it something you fully choose - it is the choice you make when the alternative is for whatever reason, unacceptable. It is what is done, when nothing else can be done and doing nothing is reprehensive.

The cause is also a life-preserver - a coping mechanism...it holds out hope that change is possible. That what is and what was, doesn't have to be what will be. Remaining committed to it, means that hope has not yet departed. It means that what happened to me does not have to happen to other women.

I have no doubt with respect to the right of women to expect the same rights as other patients with respect to their healthcare and their abilities to make medical decisions for themselves. There are tremendous barriers to exercising those rights and asserting those rights when they are violated - and those barriers need to be eliminated. That's not a small task - and it will require many who are committed to the changes that matter - mothers, doctors, OBGYN's, midwives, nurses, lawyers, judges and administrators. It will require a certain bravery and tenacity - and those who see the value beyond their own individual experience. It will require research and awareness. It will require resources and organizational capacity.

But none of these things should be seen as unattainable for far more has been found for things that matter far less.


  1. I get nervous when you draw parallels between the cause you are fighting for and the Morgentaler decision. To you they may seem to be about the same thing, but for those opposed to abortion it is not an issue of a woman having a right to choose what happens to her body, it is people who are fighting for the right of the baby to live. A woman who wishes to have a planned cesarean is making a choice in which her baby will live. A woman wishing to have an abortion is killing the baby 100% of the time. For many people it is not the same issue at all.

    I don't say this because I wish to have an abortion debate (this is not, nor should it be the purpose of your blog), but rather that I would ask you to consider not trying to draw that parallel when discussing your cause in general. I realize that in the courts it sets precendent for your case, but if you are trying to change the minds of the average individual, that is a good way to lose people's support just by drawing a parallel that is not really there for a good portion of the population. You have so many valid points about why cesarean by choice makes sense, don't push people away unnecessarily by tying this cause to that one.

  2. I understand that abortion is a charged issue - far more polarizing that maternal request cesarean. This is not an abortion blog - but I stand by an individual woman's right to make choices for herself, her body and her baby and that those decisions are private decisions that should be informed and are a matter of free conscience. These things are not black and white - there are countless shades of gray - and forcing women to do things with their body with which they do not agree, reduces women to lesser persons. They become a means to an end, rather than a worthy end in their own right - and there's something about that, that just doesn't sit right.

    I will add that I wish abortion was never a choice that any woman needed to make in the first place, but I fully understand and respect that it is a choice that many women must confront, and for those who have decided that its something that they must undertake I respect their right to do so - just as I respect the right of other women to choose to continue with their pregnancies. If all the efforts aimed at limiting choices were instead aimed at expanding them for women - maybe fewer abortions would happen, because fewer women would feel compelled to ever need one in the first place. If the efforts aimed at limiting access to abortion were aimed at eliminating rape maybe fewer abortions would be needed. If the efforts aimed at limiting access to abortion were aimed at providing good jobs and education for women, maybe few abortions would be needed. If the efforts aimed at limiting access to abortion were directed towards improving sexual education and access to contraception, maybe fewer abortions would be needed. If some of those efforts were also directed towards providing access to CDMR, maybe fewer abortions would be needed. There's a lot of things that pro-life people could and should do if they want to lower the rate of abortions that do not include making other people's choices for them.

    I wish the rate of abortion could be as close to 0 as possible (there will always be cases where abortion is medically neccessary ie: http://gawker.com/5960436/woman-in-ireland-dies-after-being-denied-abortion-was-told-this-is-a-catholic-country) while at the same time the rate of access to abortion was 100 percent - because that would mean that every woman was freely choosing whether or not to be a mother and felt that her choices other than abortion were adequate. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to be in that situation though - and it is tragic that many people who are anti-abortion are not truly pro-life because as soon as that mother gives birth, the concern for her child's well-being seems to evaporate. The lives of mothers deserve as much respect as the lives of their children.

  3. I guess the only point I really wanted to make was that you have enough of an uphill battle to climb in changing people's opinions regarding a woman's right to choose cesarean. As soon as you tie that to abortion and make it a similar issue, rightly or wrongly there are people out there that will immediately shut their minds to a right to choose cesarean. I know because I was a person who was very stubbornly against the right to choose cesarean when I first started reading your blog, but over time, because of your blog, I have come around and am now completely on board with a woman's right to choose cesarean. Knowing how long it took for me to be convinced I have a very difficult time when you liken it to the Morgantaler decision. I just hate to think that you are setting yourself back in regards to convincing people to support your cause based on their strong feelings regarding abortion. Does the decision relate to your case as far as the courts are concerned? Absolutely. But so many people who are not as educated as you are will read your blog and make a snap judgment that your cause is the same as the Morgantaler case because you say it is, when really, the conclusions that they will draw about the similarities will be false conclusions.