Upon sitting down for my brief five minute bi-weekly bus ride, I noticed one poster in particular above the seats in front of me. While I don't usually pay attention to the rectangular "learn how to read, but first you must read this ad" or "work for this call center and be treated like royalty" signs, a new message caught my attention. I had to read it over a few times to make sure I wasn't taking it out of context or jumping to conclusions because I was shocked at what my senses told me it was.
I am a part of an endangered species by being a person in her mid to late 20s who doesn't use a cell phone for online navigation so I couldn't visit the noted website to corroborate if what I was seeing was, in fact, a pro-life ad designed to turn desperate women with heart-wrenching decisions into "cold-blooded killers" or if it was a harmless "Yay, babies!" advertisement. As a reference, I tried to remain still on the jostling bus while I grabbed a shot of the ad so that I could later confirm that I am living in a province where women are still being shamed for making a decision that might be in their personal interest.
"Luc was born today, but his life began 9 months ago" strategically placed beside "A Mother's Secret" advertisement.
Logically, I understand the pro-life agenda but emotionally I can't help but seethe with anger while thinking "how dare you" from the creators of this campaign to the public transit service who cashed in from the organization. By definition, the pro-life view doesn't condone the termination of a zygote from the moment the egg and sperm meet, and I understand this because of the idea of "what could be has a heartbeat" or for many people who hold this view, it disobeys Jesus Christ and his teachings.
Before anyone hurls any "baby-killer" remarks this way, let me be clear that I have never been pregnant so therefore, I have never had an abortion. I contemplated exposing my lack of personal experience because I do not feel that I should have to "defend" my view on the right to make choices about what a women chooses to do with her body. However, if you harbor the pro-life stance, maybe you will not write me off completely and listen to what bothers me about this ad because I have not committed the "sin" -- and more than likely, I will never have to.
What if I was raped and became pregnant; as a result I wouldn't be able to bear seeing my rapist's face in a child? Or maybe, I would be terrified that the cops would attempt to criminalize me, not take action, or maybe the rapist would claim consent and try to gain custody of my child. It's even possible I might be two months into my term and I find out that my fetus, the size of a kidney bean, is growing in my fallopian tube and it will kill me if I do not make a life-saving decision -- will I be condemned for choosing my life versus both of us dying?
What if I was a 17-year-old woman who grew up in poverty and has had every social system reject me instead of aiding me toward a better life? Maybe I had to quit school three years earlier to support my family, thought I found love but instead ended up with a deadbeat father and had no means of supporting another body. Maybe I would be shamed in my community for being pregnant instead of congratulated for not aborting, the latter being a story that has never been told.
These organizations should be practicing what they are preaching by opening up funds for the few mothers who change their minds about having abortion when poverty is the main reason behind the contemplation, leading rallies promoting adequate care for those who are vulnerable, or adopting and raising every child that was "saved" from abortion. We are living in a society that doesn't protect or nurture citizens from marginalized communities yet we expect them to do "the right thing" when they have nowhere else to turn. A woman's mental health, ability to finish school, and parenting, is compromised if she carries to term and it is not the choice she wants to make. If you don't want women going ahead with abortions, be the catalyst in fixing the socio-economical or health reasons behind most terminations instead of placing a guilt-inducing ad on public transportation that causes nothing but distress to involuntary viewers.
I'm not here to preach the multi-faceted pro-choice stance, but when I am taking the bus and look at this insulting ad, I feel like I am being judged for decisions I am lucky to have not ever been in the position to make. Aside from the abortion debate, how many people went to work that morning, on that bus, after experiencing the devastating loss of a child they were anticipating bringing into the world? They too would crumble at the simple message "life started 9 months ago" as they are reminded again that they lost a human life that they were prepared to give a wonderful home to. These ads not only negatively affect groups of people that it was not intended for, it does nothing to change the mind of a woman in crisis, just as showing a woman the ultrasound of her child statistically doesn't change the outcome (it also doesn't change the situation she's in that lead her to her decision).
It's not my business what you chose to do, what's best for you, nor should it be anyone else's chance to lay judgment down in your decisions. Ultimately, we are the ones who must live with our choices and in a world where foster homes are often run by abuse and money may never be around to adequately feed a child's hungry stomach; can you live with subjecting your child to an unstable environment? The same pro-life picketers and advertisers who try to shame you from making the "worst decision of your life" will never be the ones soothing your colicky baby, alone, throughout the night while getting ready to work a double shift in retail just to make ends meet.
If you choose to raise a child despite your circumstance, I applaud you. If you choose to place your child up for adoption for a chance at a better life, I applaud you. If you abort your fetus because you believe that it is the only option you can handle, I applaud you for doing what's right for you.