Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Take Action

Grasslands National Park: top-bottom - rabbit, lichen, Frenchman River, 70-Mile Butte.

We spent the better part of the long weekend exploring the Grasslands National Park near Val Marie, Saskatchewan. You should go there. It’s a phenomenal glimpse into the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the prairies after the ice age and before mankind. Enough said; discover it for yourself, preferably on a hot day in summer when the desert positively hums with crickets and the clicking of grasshopper wings.

We stayed in the Convent Country Inn (http://convent1.sasktelwebsite.net/), an old brick building in which the Sisters of the Assumption of Mary lived and taught school until the end of that era. The food was great, the hosts gracious and the room was a tad warm, but it was a great place to spend the nights. From our room (8; the best room in the Inn we were assured) we could see the Catholic Church and a billboard: “Abortion stops a beating heart; take action.” We wondered as we read the faded words on the weathered billboard what action we were being urged to take. Should we join in the pro-life movement and demonstrate? Should we write to our MP and tell him we’d like to see abortion re-criminalized? Should we refrain from aborting our unexpected pregnancies and urge our family and community to do likewise? What action were we being urged to take?

Everything about abortion is tragic, from the first awareness of an inappropriate, possibly shameful, pregnancy to the contemplation of the probing of instruments and the expulsion of human tissue and finally, to the guilt of knowing that but for this decision, a person would exist who now doesn’t. No one—I’m guessing—is pro-abortion. Pro-choice is a question of who decides what is to be done when unexpected pregnancy presents itself. Should it be the state? Should it be the individuals involved? Should it be the church?

I can only think of one action I can appropriately take in this regard, and that is to support efforts to prevent inappropriate pregnancy. And what form might that take? Education is good, properly done. People need to know how to prevent pregnancy safely. Availability of the apparatuses of prevention is good; I would rather see easily-obtained birth-control pills than abortions, than children being raised by children, or unwanted and resented children growing up in an environment that lacks nurturance. Abstinence is good if it doesn’t become a religion; doing without coitus doesn’t actually cause acne.

What does all this have to do with Grasslands? You’d have to ask the people who put up the billboard, I guess. But the quiet, “natural” unfolding of life in this wilderness said something to me about the tranquility of creation . . . as opposed to the anxieties we humans create, even about as natural a thing as reproduction.

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