- by Shea Angus

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned Roe v. Wade. Effectively, this means that abortion is no longer recognized as a constitutional right, and it is up to each State to determine its' own laws regarding abortion. Until this ruling America was actually a rare place where abortion was recognized as a right as opposed to just something that was legal. In Canada for example, abortion is not a recognized constitutional right, though it is legal across the country.

Personally, I believe abortion is one of the most complicated political topics of the modern era. No side of the debate seems willing to even try to understand the other which makes lawmaking a difficult prospect. Either you're someone complicit in the murder of a child, or you're a woman hating bigot who wants to control women and limit their autonomy.

I'm one of a few people who find myself somewhere in the middle of this issue. It's my hope that you'll indulge me and that perhaps, just maybe, there's something in here that will give you something to ponder.

I will start by stating my personal connection to this issue. In 1969 my father was born to a young teenage mother and subsequently given up for adoption. He went on to be adopted by the people that I would grow up to know as my Nana and Grandpa and who provided my dad with a good life. I was born in 1995 and my brother was born in 1999. Despite the ups and downs that all families experience, we've all had a good life.

But I often think when this topic of conversation comes up how my father's biological mom could have made a different choice. She could have terminated her pregnancy and my dad would never have been born. By extension, neither me nor my brother would be here either. I'll always be grateful for the choice she made to give my father, and by extension me and my brother, a chance at life.

If you know me, you know I've talked a lot and very openly about my own personal mental health struggles. When I've felt the most alone and when my world seemed clouded in a darkness that would never lift, I've contemplated suicide. But even in those moments when I've felt so low that ending my life seemed like an option to consider, I've never tried to follow through. I've always recognized, even in my darkest moments, that life is a gift and even though I feel like my world is falling apart around me, I'm still lucky to be here.

But that doesn't mean I don't understand the other side of the argument either.

I consider myself someone that values individual liberty above anything else. I understand how incredibly extreme and personal it is for the State to compel people to carry on pregnancies they did not want. There are countless examples of stories where carrying on a pregnancy could be fatal to the mother and I can't imagine the experience of how hard making a decision like that would be. But even if it's just for personal convenience, or because someone feels they're unfit to be a parent, or they don't have the support or resources to do so. I understand how the State compelling someone to carry a pregnancy to term is an extremely invasive thing to do and it only applies to a particular segment of the population. Ask any mother in your life and they can tell you about the physical and mental toll of being pregnant. Forcing someone to experience that and any other potential trauma associated with it is an incredibly significant exercise of power by the State and should not be taken lightly.

It's because of both of these feelings and experiences that I truly struggle to identify completely with either side of this debate. If someone gets pregnant, I truly hope they decide to (assuming they're physically and mentally able to) carry that child to term and give it a chance at life. But I sympathise with anyone that feels they're unable to do that for any reason.

As far as solutions go, I think despite how polarising the debate seems, the actual data suggests more agreement than disagreement in Canada. When broken down by trimester, there seems to be more agreement among people. According to a 2020 DART poll, 86% of Canadians think abortiong should be legal in the first trimester of pregnancy. This drops to 57% during the second trimester. In the third trimester, 70% of Canadians think that abortion should generally be illegal.

Of course there are many nuances and exceptions that those specific polls don’t cover, but generally speaking it indicates more of an agreement amongst Canadians than you might expect.

If you take anything from this piece, I hope you can help see perhaps some of the humanity on the other side of this debate and recognize truly how complex this is. I've talked to people on all sides of this issue and I don't see in them what they see in each other. I see people that want to give someone a chance at life that my dad was given. I see people that don't think a woman should be forced to take on the mental and physical hardship that comes with being pregnant against her will.

Ultimately, if we're going to have a debate about this issue in the months and perhaps years to come, I hope we can recognize the humanity in all of us so we can arrive at a solution that most people can agree with and understand.

Pictured from left to right is Shea's brother Ty, his father Kevin, and Shea himself wearing scarves made for them by Kevin's biological mother after finding Kevin again over 50 years after he was born and given up for adoption.


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