young women at a pro-choice rally
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I’m A Father Willing To Fight Those Determined to Take Away My Daughter’s Fundamental Rights

Jul 28, 2022

I’m raising a girl in a tumultuous time for women.

I think this as I do my almost daily midnight pickup of my 15-year-old daughter at our local subway station. She's 10 minutes late, but I appreciate the time alone. I lean back, close my eyes and listen to the rhythmic roar of the buses as they fill up, rev up and race out of the station.

As I sit and wait, I wonder what her world will look like in the future. Part of me wants to believe that things will be OK. Across the lengthening span of my life, that's the way it's always been, more or less. But another part, the wake-up part, calls out my denial of a disturbing trend: Girls and women are under attack in a manner that is more unfiltered, aggressive and frightening than anything I have witnessed.


From CBC News: A pair of abortion doulas in southwestern Ontario say Canadians shouldn't take access to safe, legal abortions for granted because there are still barriers to care.


Watching a world turn

When I look at what is happening around me, I shake my head. You can't write this stuff. Except Margaret Atwood did.

"But, as recent events have driven home, Atwood was eerily prescient, and my complacency woefully misguided."

I've always considered The Handmaid's Tale a masterful portrayal of the dystopian world that existed only within the pages of her novel. But, as recent events have driven home, Atwood was eerily prescient, and my complacency woefully misguided.

We now live on the cusp of that world — and while Christian conservative extremists may not be as much of a threat here, we can no longer ignore the threat. Anti-abortion advocates are organized, funded and playing the long game. They want to bring the conversation about whether or not women in Canada have the right to choose back to the forefront.

We're all touched by abortion

Years ago, this issue touched me. Like many, I became sexually active in my teenage years. It was my first serious relationship, and the youthful intensity of my love for her was consuming. Our intimacy wasn't immediate, but realized after months of sharing thoughts, feelings and philosophies that neither of us had experienced before. I was lucky. It was innocent and beautiful.

Despite our precautions of counting the days of her cycle, we had a pregnancy scare. I met her early one morning as she handed me a urine sample for the pregnancy test I had waiting at home. I surreptitiously placed the vial carefully in my jacket and we parted. At home, I set a timer and anxiously awaited the results.

As I paced back and forth, my mother asked me if anything was wrong.

"You seem so worried these last few days," she said. 

"Yeah," I said, still pacing. "I'm worried about my math exam."

"Well, you've never been good at math," she responded.

When the timer dinged, I could barely breathe. I knew both of our futures were on the line.

Fortunately, our scare was unwarranted. Except it isn't unique. This same scene has been repeated millions of times in Canada and beyond, but nowadays I think about how millions of young people could have choice torn from them by religious zealots dictating life-altering decisions.

"I realize at that moment how important it is for men to stand up as defenders."

My thoughts are interrupted as the car door opens and my daughter slides into the passenger seat beside me.

"How was your night?" I ask.

"It was good," she says. "They're showing movies in the park. We saw A League of Their Own."

As we drive down the now-quiet urban streets, I think about that iconic film I saw many years ago. I remember being amazed at how men subjugated women in that era. And I realize at that moment how important it is for men to stand up as defenders, not oppressors.

“Are you and your friends aware of what is happening in the U.S., with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade?”

“Yes, we talk about it,” she says. “I don’t know anybody who thinks it’s a good thing.”


From CBC First Person: "I grew up attending anti-abortion protests. Today, I am pro-choice."


Standing up for my daughter

I’m proud that my daughter is aware of the changes unfolding across the border and beyond. It’s vital that she know that certain rights have not always been there and can be taken away if we aren’t vigilant. One day soon she will have her own say in the future of her country and will be a part of the fight to protect her rights against those who would remove them.

"The fight is now, and women need men to step up as allies like never before."

Our conversation gets me thinking about the actions men can take to safeguard long-standing women's rights. Because I think it's time for men to get off the sidelines and act. There is so much we can do. Get involved. Speak up. Support local and national groups that defend woman's rights. Donate. Demonstrate. And above all, vote for candidates with a track record of unwavering support for all forms of women's healthcare.

We know where this is going. We are watching it play out in real-time. Contraception. Gay rights. Same-sex marriage. It's all potentially under threat from a vocal minority of zealots working to ensure everyone conforms to their narrow political, social and religious views. The fight is now, and women need men to step up as allies like never before. 

Dads, brothers, sons, uncles, and grandfathers — are you in?

The battle is on, and the lines of delineation could not be more apparent.

Her body. Her choice.

End of story.

Article Author Craig Stephens
Craig Stephens

Read more from Craig here.

Craig Stephens is an award-winning writer and producer passionate about projects that explore social issues, human potential and innovation. He lives in Toronto with his wife, a writer, theatre producer and podcaster, and their teen daughter — his most challenging and rewarding project to date! You can catch his latest work at mediadiner.com.

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