And you thought abortion was a right-wing issue…

And by you I mean me.

But recently I’ve learned of such organizations as Feminists for Life and Consistent Life Ethic that dialogue about the abortion issue in refreshing and deeply insightful ways that make total sense to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been personally against abortion, being one who believes because of my faith that life begins at conception. But I have struggled with the idea that my personal beliefs should be forced on others who may not hold them, especially in a democracy.

Until now. I’m completely convinced that abortion fails women. I believe it is symptom of a society that cares more about profit than it does about taking care of it’s weakest and most vulnerable members of our society – the unborn, and their mothers who feel they might not make it if they have the child.

Jen Ziemenn, a member of St. Chiara Community (where I’ve been hanging around as of late, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside) was arrested years ago for protesting at an abortion clinic. Her statement below to the judge is one of the most passionate and convincing I’ve heard on the issue:

Your Honour,

Today I stand before you after my third protest; against the social abandonment of women and the killing of unborn children through abortion. My concern is not just about abortion but about a system that is oppressive and mandates death for many and in which only a few profit.

It deeply saddens me to know that the women’s movement, which has struggled long and hard for justice, has bought into abortion.  “Accepting the necessity of abortion is excepting that pregnant women and mothers are unable to function as persons in this society. It indicates a willingness to adjust to the status quo which is a betrayal of the feminist cause, a loss of the revolutionary vision of a world fit for people to live in”. ( Daphne de Jong, National president for Feminists for Life).

Instead of asking women and children to change and to accommodate to this world, we should be asking the world to change and accommodate to the needs of women and children. This change not only requires social structures to change but individuals must take responsibility. We need to encourage commitments to family and self control over our sexual freedom. We must all except the challenge to work for a more loving world.

Our Government has abandoned its proper role of protecting its citizens and instead has opted to cater to profit interests, on the backs of the poor. Women who want to nurture and care for their children must often do so at great cost. Many face the harsh realities of living in poverty due to lack of support. It is in the government’s financial interest to protect laws which ensure abortion and silence any opposing voice; abortion is a one-shot deal, caring for people is costly.

My prayer is that government will stop dealing in death and focus on supporting life, and that we as individuals would work on building healthy communities where all are welcome and cared for. We can try to make the poor and weak disappear, “out of sight of of mind,” but they are never out of God’s sight. Thus, a society is judged not by how successfully it serves the rich and powerful, but whether it embraces the poor and weakest members of its communities.

So I hold out to you: a 50% increase of child poverty in Canada in the last decade, a growing gap between the rich and the poor, reduced welfare benefits, high unemployment, declining social services to, the Downtown Eastside declared a “public health emergency,” and over 106,000 abortions yearly in Canada–one of every five children killed through abortion. These are all marks of social decline and our failure as individuals and as a nation to care for our weakest members.

I believe abortion has failed women–it is not about “freedom” or “controlling our bodies”–it is about internalizing the domination of men over women and then dominating over our children, making them the scapegoat; a continuing of the cycle of violence.

Your Honour, I am guilty of the charge against me and I make no apology for my actions. I have conducted myself in a disciplined and peaceful manner and I am trying to live with integrity. I believe in the solidarity of humanity, that when my brother or sister suffers, I suffer. I cannot attain my full potential until you do. Thus, my life’s work: I am committed to lovingly struggle for justice and the protection of life which is threatened in today’s world by war and the arms race, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia.

I would like to end my statement with a quote from a hero of mine, priest and peace activist Dan Berrigan.  “If we haven’t bought the culture, we won’t buy abortion, capital punishment, mercy killing or nuclear war. If we have bought the culture, we will buy death piecemeal as a social method. And of course if you are buying deaths, the easiest buy is abortion.”

Thank you your honour.

Jen Ziemann

I’m with Jen, I’m consistently choosing life.


6 Responses to “And you thought abortion was a right-wing issue…”

  1. 1 Pablo August 13, 2010 at 8:09 am

    There seems to be a little problem, the arguments are not in favour of the unborn child but in favour of the woman, so to approve or disapprove abortion it is based on the same thing: womens needs or convinience, not in the life of the child. This woman says she is against abortion because “fails women” other feminists say abotion is a “right”, in both cases the baby is anecdotic, secondary.

  2. 2 joyforaweek August 14, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I think that Jen Z., who wrote that statement to the judge, would agree with you that to protect the unborn is the most important reason for her beliefs. She *does* say that abortion is the symptom of a society that does not care for the weakest and most vulnerable members (the unborn children), and that children “have become a scapegoat,” which is appalling.

    However she is specifically expressing her disappointment with the women’s movement, as they believe the *prime* motivation for abortion is “women’s freedom,” and she is trying to hit them where it hurts the most by saying that it fails women because it forces them to adapt itstead of society, which should protect and provide for the needs of both the children AND the women who find themselves pregnant.

    -Jen (G.)

  3. 3 Pablo August 18, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Jen Z wasJen Z was writing to the judge not to the feminist movement. The only valid argument against abortion is the life of the unborn, not feminists claims, which are , by the way, a little paranoid and contradictory.
    In my opinion abortion is a sign, the true face of a movement called feminism, their most popular claim is abortion, they are the ones who push the abortion agenda, they are the ones who claim their “right” , not “society”, here “society” seems to be the scapegoat too.
    I agree that children are the scapegoat, they are the scapegoat of a false religion called feminism, where woman is “god” man is the “devil” and children the sacrifice.
    “Women find themselves pregnant” ….that happened only once in the new testament. writing to the judge not to the feminist movement. The only valid argument against abortion is the life of the unborn, not feminists claims, which are , by the way, a little paraniode and contradictory.
    In my opinion abortion is a symptom of the treu face of a movement called feminism, their most popular claim is abortion, they are the ones who push the abortion agenda, they are the ones who claim their”right” , not “society”, here “society” seems to be the scapegoat too.
    I agree that children are the scapegoat, but not of society , they are the scapegoat of a false religion called feminism, where woman is “god” man is the “devil” and children the scapegoat.
    “Women find themselves pregnant” ….

    • 4 joyforaweek August 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      I’m afraid that we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, as I find many of your statements offensive, as a woman, and as a Christian. Many of my political and social views are ones that are deeply rooted in my faith and in who I believe God to be and what the Sacred Scriptures say.

      Feminism has never suggested that woman is ‘god’ and man is the ‘devil,’ I’m not sure where you get that from. Feminism is the simple claim that women and men are in all ways equal, and after hundreds of years of oppression, women deserve just that. God created men and women equal in all ways, and God has never been pleased that men have chosen to exploit, oppress, and make slaves of women throughout the ages. This is fundamentally against God’s creational intention for the two sexes.

      I share your sorrow that the feminist movement has adopted abortion as one of it’s issues. But I don’t think it’s wrong to respond by suggesting that abortion not only hurts the unborn but the women who get the abortions, and it hurts society in general by forcing the women to adapt instead of responding with compassion and care and a willingness to take care of the children once they are born.

      So perhaps we should just be glad that we both want an end to the killing of innocent unborn children. And let’s work together to try to stop it. A good place to start would be by pondering and acting upon Mother Teresa’s statement: “If you don’t want your baby, give it to me.”


  4. 5 Alex August 19, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Perhaps this was addressed in Jen (Z.)`s statement, but I wonder to what degree proportionally abortions take place in economically-marginzalized communities, and to what degree in general they`re a function of a perceived lack of support at all levels – family, community, and government. An economically-marginalized person in an individualistic mass society like Canada would, I imagine, have an incredibly hard time finding the emotional and economic support necessary to support a child, particularly as family and social problems are so often tragically inter-related to poverty. I don`t support abortion, but it`s not hard to see how someone in such a situation could see no other way out.
    Interestingly, I don`t think i`ve ever come across perception of abortions (or at least not openly or dominantly) in either the Dominican Republic or Honduras in the last year. The main reason I`m perceiving, aside from mistrust of medical institutions, is that in both these places a much stronger extended family and community structure exists to care for newborns at the extended family and community level. This can create its own set of problems in terms of overpopulation and lack of women`s education due to child-nurturing from a young age, but obviously the lasting solution here is not abortion but, among others, greater women empowerment and general societal education. In Canada, I think the most important factor is to reclaim and redevelop such community structures that are thankfully still present elsewhere (they did exist in Canada at one point!), dropping the illusion of independence and realizing that everyone IS dependent on others, whether responsibly or irresponsibly.

    • 6 joyforaweek August 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm

      thanks Alex, GREAT point. We can learn a lot from economically-marginalized communities and countries. If the women in Canada had as much community support as the women in these communities, perhaps the abortion rate would dramatically decline.

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