The Green Party supports a woman’s right to choose and would ensure access to abortion in parts of the country where access is now a problem, while simultaneously encouraging programmes that reduce unwanted pregnancies and open up more options for women.
I sympathize with the concerns on both sides of the abortion debate. Nobody wants a high abortion rate. However, attempts to reduce the abortion rate by limiting access or information have been a counterproductive failure, resulting in higher costs, more trauma and later-term abortions, which are not desirable results for either side of the debate. The programmes that have been most successful in reducing the abortion rate have involved access to contraception above all, followed by information about the options available, both in contraceptive options and in options for completing the pregnancy.
I would encourage programmes to ensure that no woman ever feels compelled to have an abortion because of poverty issues, lack of time or other concerns that can be resolved with simple, pragmatic solutions. Opening up options for single mothers is a very welcome and effective way of reducing the abortion rate. I look forward to the Green Party introducing the Guaranteed Annual Income for every Canadian, to eliminate poverty in the country once and for all, and with it a big reason that leads women to choose abortion.
That said, giving women better options should never be construed as a condemnation of the choice to terminate a pregnancy. Some women are struggling to extricate themselves from abusive relationships or are victims of rape or incest. They should not have to endure further indignities and probing into personal decisions. No woman makes the choice to abort lightly. These are deeply troubling and personal issues that should not be politicized.
I agree with Bill Clinton’s directive that abortions should be safe, legal and rare. I would add that abortions should also be timely. While this isn’t a problem in Toronto, it is the issue with abortions in Canada. Once a woman has determined that she will have an abortion it is cruel and counterproductive to everyone involved to delay it. The effect of lack of suitable clinics in the province of Prince Edward Island and in some rural communities simply means that women who are determined to terminate unwanted pregnancies have to take more time to get assessments and for abortions to be performed. In the case of Prince Edward Island, cost issues of the abortion itself further contribute to delays. There is no evidence that the difficulties in obtaining an abortion are at all successful in convincing a woman to continue with a pregnancy she wants to terminate. Instead, lack of access just delays the inevitable until a time when it is more complicated, more expensive and more traumatizing for everyone. This is the salient abortion issue in Canada.