It’s been a quarter century since Dr. Henry Morgentaler and thousands of pro-choice activists won a victory that made a pinnacle of tragedy in my life less of a tragedy. 25 years ago, a decades-long effort was rewarded when the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the criminality of abortion in Canada (though it goes a LOT farther back than 25 years!).
I was eight years old at the time, but my life would be deeply affected 24 years later when I made an inconceivably difficult yet compassionate decision for my son.
If abortion was still illegal, what would I have done for my Henry? Life would be drastically different.
I can only imagine the haze I would have lived in the past five months if I carried him to full term, knowing I was to deliver a baby that was not meant for this world. Instead of writing this post, I would be in a hospital, undergoing a C-section to deliver Henry with as little pain to him as possible. Then I would be recuperating and clinging to every moment as I watched the light in his eyes extinguish as he slipped away from me forever.
I wouldn’t have been allowed to hold my son, for doing so would have broken his bones. Imagine having a suffering, crying infant, newly born, that you couldn’t hold and comfort? He would have been gasping for breath. He would have only known the process of dying. No first steps, hiccoughs or words. He never would have known the feeling of being wrapped in his mother’s protective arms.
If I did deliver Henry, I would be simultaneously planning his funeral. And I would be living in a deep, desolate place for a very long time.
I may have sought measures to end Henry’s life that would be illegal thanks to a governing framework that wouldn’t have let me make reproductive decisions that have my best interests in mind.
Thanks to another Henry – a man who lives, I didn’t have to go there. And of course, it doesn’t escape me that my son has the same name as this man, although that is pure coincidence. A happy one.