Feminism was implicit in my upbringing. I don’t remember ever talking about these issues, but I could easily tell you where my parents fell on them. I think I got more of an education in how to form opinions than what opinions to form; an education for which I am eternally grateful.
Similarly with abortion, it never came up in my life but I always knew where I stood on the issue. I remember writing a paper in first year university on the subject, and getting it back with my (ultra-Christian) professor’s red-ink comments all over it: “What about the baby’s right to live?” I was frustrated with myself for not having an answer to such a straightforward argument. Why had I never thought about this before?
The only discussion I remember having with my family about abortion was when Dr. Henry Morgentaler was receiving an honorary degree from the University of Western Ontario. We were discussing the controversy around this decision when my father became uncharacteristically passionate and declared that it was about damn time, and the man deserved the Order of Canada, and that he (Dr. M.) had done more to help the women of this country than any one of those damn protesters could even imagine. I have never seen him argue so passionately before or since.
After university I took off, with my partner, to do some classic early-twenties-white-person “finding yourself” volunteer work in a foreign country (in our case, Costa Rica). When I returned, I was listless and uncertain about what I wanted to do. I have always wanted a career in “helping people”, but my blossoming understanding of privilege and neo-colonialism was putting me in a difficult position.
I discovered that there are protesters at our local abortion clinic. This is something of an anomaly in Canada; most clinics have bubble zones or are in areas too difficult to protest. I wanted to counter-protest, but thankfully someone pointed me in the much more helpful direction of clinic escorting. This eventually became filling in on reception, and then a part-time job in the clinic as an office assistant and volunteer coordinator, which is what I do now.
It’s strange that only a few years ago, I could only think of one conversation I’d ever had about abortion; now, it’s my whole world. The job inside the clinic has inevitably led to activism outside of it. People in this province are surprised and excited to find a young person who actually cares about this issue, and writing and media relations gigs have fallen into my lap. I have the chance every day to re-evaluate my position on abortion, and every day the more women I talk to, the more my pro-choice position is solidified. I trust women one hundred percent and I can’t imagine what the benefit would be in taking the choice away.
My struggle to figure out what to do with my life has run parallel with the journey towards becoming pro-choice. I can’t think of anything I am more passionate about, for which there is such an immediate need.