Thursday, April 10, 2008

Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot, describes his girlfriend's 2nd trimester abortion

In this blogpost at The Shotgun, Marc Emery, the "Prince of Pot" describes his vasectomy and his girlfriend's second trimester abortion (at 20 weeks), which took place in 1977.

It’s probably different now, but in this hospital in 1977, second trimester abortions--fetuses from 12 weeks to 20 weeks--were terminated on the same floor as the mothers giving birth, which was disconcerting. In this room, there were six women, all about 17 to 22. Some were screaming like banshees in the most anguished wails from the moment they brought Anne in. Within hours Anne was hooked up on an intravenous drip that would force Anne into labour but within two hours of entering the room, the longest and most threatening needle I had ever seen, it was eight inches long and made of the coldest looking steel, pierced her taut swollen belly. That needle would inject a saline solution into the fetus, killing it. The hormones and chemicals in the IV drip would cause her womb to contract and expel the now-dead fetus, but that would take 36 hours to do and for the entire time I saw Anne she was screaming and wailing and was in agony, as were the other five girls most of the time.

I had never been so breathtakingly stupefied by such sounds before and I have tried to recall any other time in my life so affecting and I can’t. The two nurses who looked after these six women were thoughtful and sensitive, heroically so, but I could not comprehend working in such a situation--the crying and screaming seemed endless. I was helpless and useless, only able to watch and feel terrible guilt for taking Anne to my doctor, for letting it get to this. I spoke to the other five women over the hours when they arrived or departed or in moments when they were lucid or drugged, and I realized no one else came to visit any of the other women in the entire 24 hours I was in the room or waiting outside in the hallways. One woman, a girl I thought then, from Chatham, told me this was her third abortion. “Will your boyfriend visit you?” I asked. “I haven’t even told him. He simply wouldn’t understand. No one knows I’m here. My doctor in Chatham opposed my abortion, then it got too late (past the first trimester) and then I had to come here (London, Ontario) where they allow this, because it can’t be done in Chatham.” But mostly I remember ear-shattering screaming and wailing. It could have been my profound helplessness and guilt and shame that descended on me that weekend that made them seem louder, but I don’t think so.

When the fetus was expelled, one of the nurses came to me and very quietly said “this procedure of abortions at five months are very controversial, as you know. We have to write in the official records that the fetus was still born. And there is paperwork to that effect. We require you to give the fetus a name.” Oh, I felt woozy during this entire conversation. I had to think of a name for my “dead child” in a split second but it seemed an eternity, “Ben Emery” I wrote. I don’t know why I signed that name. I was numb. Three years later, my brother would have his first son, whom he named Benjamin Emery and it always makes me pause to think of my nephew and his name. Then after signing the death notice, the nurse asked if I would like to go to the hospital chapel for a blessing (of the dead fetus’ soul) and I agreed to follow her and that poignant little coda took only a few minutes but I felt a well of shame and sadness inside.

Marc Emery asks:

There is no statute of limitations on murder or infanticide. If the pro-life position appears in legislation, then doesn’t that make 40,000,000 North Americans (or those still alive) murderers? And is every doctor, nurse, advocate, friend who helped, husband or wife an accessory to any such act? Can we really criminalize upwards of 100,000,000 people in two countries for their abortions?

I don't know what the legal situation is in Canada. I doubt you can prosecute people for things that were not illegal at the time. But if it were illegal, and it were up to me, I would grant complete and total amnesty to anyone involved with abortion until a fetal equality law was put into effect. I do not think it would further the common good to prosecute these people.

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