“Be it resolved that abortion hurts women.” On November 8, 2013, University of Toronto Students for Life hosted a debate on this topic between pro-life activist Stephanie Gray and abortionist Dr. Fraser Fellows. However, the debate soon went beyond its framework, reaching out to the audience and making us responsible to determine the future of abortion in Canada.
Stephanie Gray began the evening with a description of the ways that abortion hurts women. “Abortion hurts a woman because of what it does to her child,” she said, after showing a graphic depiction of the abortion procedure.
Dr. Fellows began his argument with the “why” behind abortion. He said that abortion is never an easy decision, and that desperation is what leads a woman to it. “To deny a woman abortion is to expose her to injury and death,” he said.
In the period of questions that followed, Dr. Fellows tried to discredit Stephanie Gray’s studies and statistics. Stephanie tried to get Dr. Fellows to admit that he is in the business of killing pre-born humans. Stephanie also touched on the issue of sex-selective abortion, which Dr. Fellows does not perform. When asked why choosing to have an abortion because one’s child is female is different from abortion for any other reason, Dr. Fellows said that society has judged sex-selective abortion to be wrong. The nuances of this remark would permeate throughout the evening.
As the debate continued, the idea of abortion laws as the responsibility of society was emphasized by both speakers. Stephanie Gray pointed out that abortion itself never eliminates the problems that drive women to have abortion. “Abortion does not un-rape a rape victim,” she said. She called for a movement to get to the heart of the motivations for abortion and to solve these issues in ways that do no harm to mother or child. Dr Fellows admitted that he is at arms length from the abortion decision process. He then made an astonishing declaration, considering his position: that every woman regrets abortion for one reason or another. Dr. Fellows told the audience that the reason he participates in debates such as these is because he does not believe that we should become complacent about the issue of abortion. He claimed that he is just providing safe access to a service that society has deemed necessary.
So we are left with a debate that went way beyond a mere discussion of the issues. It effectually presented us with two calls to action. One, gathered from Stephanie Gray’s remarks, is the responsibility to alleviate situations that lead women to abortions, such as poverty. This call includes supporting our pro-life crisis pregnancy centers and making them known in our communities. The second call, gathered from Dr. Fellow’s remarks, is much more daunting, but also more crucial. For the most part, the scientific and technical realities of abortion are no longer hidden. There is no way to debate what abortion does and how it does it. But why abortions have to occur remains a contentious issue. Therefore, it is our duty, as pro-life activists, to show people why abortions do not have to occur. It is our duty to show them why abortions should be unthinkable. It is our duty to advocate for the pre-born and to change hearts and minds. As Dr. Fellows admitted, if we want to eliminate “abortionist” from the list of medical professions, what we have to do is to change the way that society thinks of abortion once and for all.