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Friday, December 9, 2011

More Debate about (Not) Debating

This is more on yesterday's post.

Not debating the anti's doesn't mean not speaking. As Audre Lorde said, our silence does not protect us. No one can accuse me of being silent, by the way. As we all know, nature abhors a vacuum. It's important that we speak, or the anti's fill the public space with their nonsense and it goes unchallenged. How many women have heard the lie that abortion is linked to breast cancer? We need to speak to counter the lies and misinformation they spread. The question is more where we start and who we speak to.

What the anti's are demanding of us in their recent tirades is different. They want us to"debate" with those whose minds will never change. As an activist, I know it's important to spend my energy where it counts. This is an important tactical issue. It's in their interests to have us all burn out spinning our wheels to them alone. My time is more important to me than that. I can spend 100 hours preparing debates for the nutties who picket the clinics and show the fetus porn and it will be a waste of 100 hours. They know that. And I end up using words like "nutties" and "fetus porn" because it's so frustrating. And why would it be otherwise? Likewise, they waste their activist time speaking to me.

Further, we are in no way obliged to engage with bullies, abusers, and people who hate monger. In fact, it is unwise to do so. 

Instead, if I put 100 hours into speaking to general audiences, writing a play, or even doing this blog, the outcome is much different. There are more openings, more opportunities for nuance and often, more truth. If anti's want to read my blog, that's fine. But it's not directed at them and I have no expectation of changing their minds.

When I speak to the public, I speak from a Canadian perspective in which abortion is safe and legal (actually a-legal, but we can do that another time) as it should be. As I said, we've won that point. The Supreme Court agreed. Check. Now we can talk about why we need to make it even more accesesible and present the evidence on how it has improved women's health. We can ensure it is included in health care and under reciprocal billing. We can talk about why it is so important that medical schools expand their training to ensure all future doctors are familiar with the procedure and can counsel their patients well. If we want to talk historically, we are coming up to the 25th Anniversary of the Morgentaler decision, a significant reason and opportunity to celebrate, to offer more education and information to the public, and to put this great win into a historical and political context. For younger women, this might be new and important information. But let's offer it in our true context, the context in which we have won.

Our work is by no means done. It will continue to take a tremendous amount of our energy. And it is important to do. I will always talk publicly about why I care so much about this (and always have) and will talk to any general public group that invites me to do so. Without the right to choose, I am not free. But I won't "debate" with the anti's. They want me to waste my time.

The Abortion Monologues is available for purchase at www.abortionmonologues.com

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