In the Blog

We should turn up the volume

July 7th, 2008     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

In the week that followed our posting the news that Morgentaler was named to the Order of Canada, the Shameless blog has seen its share of commentary from anti-choice camps (comments we put in moderation while we discussed whether or not Shameless was the right place to be having these kinds of discussions,) and we’ve also seen a fair amount of anti-choice activity aiming to strip Morgentaler of the honor. We’ve seen letters to the editor printed in major newspapers, like this (“…they’re aborting purely for convenience…these women are callously using abortion as birth control.”) and this (“…the smug, self-serving, “progressive” political, legal, academic, and media elites, including the prime example at Rideau Hall – belong to some other world than the one from which they suck taxes…”)

Do a Google News search of Morgentaler’s name and post after post is letters to the editor of every major Canadian newspaper, each one a platform for anti-choice rhetoric and ranting about sin and murder. I am all for free speech and believe the abortion debate is an important one to have openly in our major publications, but where are the pro-choice sentiments and the fundamental belief in a woman’s right to control her own body?

I am now convinced that it is not that the anti-choice side of the debate is larger in number, it is that they are simply louder and more active in their criticism. Paul Russell at the National Post has written a small piece today regarding who was doing the largest share of letter-writing and commenting when the news hit:

The next day a handful of readers pointed out that all but one of the writers in the anti-Morgentaler camp were males, compared to six of the seven Morgentaler supporters being females.

Incidentally, I was among the handful of readers who sent Paul an email:

I’m very curious to understand why all of your commentary coverage of Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada is skewed towards those who either believe he doesn’t deserve it, or that he mostly doesn’t deserve it, or that he sort-of doesn’t deserve it. I find it infuriating that you’ve refused to post the opinion of someone who believes this to be a most-deserved honor, and that you haven’t even managed to post the opinion of an individual in a position to ever need an abortion, i.e. a woman of child-bearing age.

It seems I was wrong in criticizing the National Post (I know, can you believe it?) Although I am not naive in assuming their coverage would be balanced, it seems that anti-choice opinions are higher in number and yes, mostly male. Russell neatly breaks down the numbers:

As of 4 p.m. last Friday, 163 e-mails and faxes have been received on the Morgentaler decision. Thirty-nine voice support for the Morgentaler’s Order of Canada, with the other 124 voicing various degrees of disgust with the honour… Interestingly, this dissenting group comprises 92 men and just 32 women. Conversely, of the 39 pro-Morgentaler letters, the 26 female contributors exactly double the 13 men.

I realize that this is a small sampling, but in a country that overwhelmingly favours a woman’s right to choose (49% believe abortion should be legal under ANY circumstances, while only 5% would outlaw abortion altogether, meaning everyone else falls in a “somewhere inbetween” that believes it should be legal - only 19% would would subject abortion to greater restrictions than now), it seems strange that the loudest voices are those in that small 5%.

On that note, I’d be remiss in not posting this message that’s been making the rounds. I feel it’s important that we let everyone know how we feel about Morgentaler’s honour, especially the very person who publicly honoured him:

The Governor General is getting a flood of mail and calls from anti-choice forces. Please tell her how much you appreciate the courageous decision by her and the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada to award Dr. Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada. Here is the contact information: E-mail: Phone: 613-993-8200 Toll-free: 1-800-465-6890 Fax: 613-998-8760 Mail: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean Governor General of Canada Rideau Hall 1 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1 Thank you very much!

Tags: body politics, news flash

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