Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

TWO SIDEWALKS, TWO STANCES – Pro-life (left) and pro-choice (right) groups crossed paths on their walks in downtown Whitehorse early last Thursday afternoon.

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

EXPRESSING HER VIEWS – Denise Mountenay speaks to the pro-life group gathered at noon last Thursday at the Old Log Church Stringer Park. At the back is the prochoice group.

Downtown abortion rally drew two crowds

An abortion rally held last Thursday in Whitehorse drew more than 50 Yukoners on both sides of the topic.

By Palak Mangat on May 13, 2019

An abortion rally held last Thursday in Whitehorse drew more than 50 Yukoners on both sides of the topic.

The pro-choice group pointed out it is very much not a debate, while the pro-life supporters cautioned it’s a human rights issue.

Among those on hand for the Walk for Life event was Denise Mountenay, who delivered a passionate speech about her first-hand experience over the years.

A one-time abortion patient herself, she explained she was encouraged by her mother after she was raped and became pregnant at 16.

“I thought, ‘oh, it’s OK with my mom, it’s OK with the doctors, it’s OK with the government – so it must be OK,’ and I had that first abortion at 16 in a hospital,” she told the Star in an interview last Thursday.

Mountenay became pregnant again at 26. It was then that it hit her, she said: the little being inside her was just that.

“When I got the revelation on the truth about the humanity of the child in utero, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, these are my children,’” she added.

That second abortion was very traumatic, and was followed by health complications like depression and suicidal behaviour. Mountenay believes her story is not only typical of a lot of women, but isn’t as widely told around the world.

“I basically wanted to die, I didn’t care about myself and went into some kind of shock,” she said of her second procedure.

“It actually felt like I was being raped again; that’s how abortion felt to me.”

Complications from the act can eventually affect parenting, sex life and the level of guilt experienced by women for the rest of their lives, she added.

Mountenay’s remarks came with an acknowledgment that not every woman’s story is the same.

She suggested there has been a “cover up” about the negative impacts on women after such procedures.

Meanwhile, for NDP MLA Liz Hanson, walking with those in support of abortion meant simply supporting reproductive rights.

“It’s really in my view about choice and respecting that choice,” Hanson told the Star last Thursday. “You should have a right to have an abortion.”

The MLA has seen a number of rallies throughout the years in Whitehorse. This year, she felt, the tone was a bit different in that it was more silent and respectful.

“Morally, the two groups don’t engage because by doing that you can pull in and have people say things in anger or (from) an emotional base – that’s not what this has got to be about,” Hanson said.

Pointing out the laws have been changed in support of abortion options, the MLA recalled it’s taken years to get here.

(The Yukon government announced as recently as October 2018 that it would fully cover Mifegymiso, a medication used in abortions.)

“I’m from a generation that remembers that whole agonizing debate and subsequent pitting people against each other as though one side is villainous and the other side is not – I don’t think we can do that,” Hanson said.

Plus, it’s clear where the country and territory stand on that, as the Yukon sees upwards of 110 abortions per year – showing a clear need.

While she respected Mountenay’s story, Hanson echoed her point that it wasn’t indicative of every woman’s experience with the practice.

“We can’t afford that; this is an issue that has been put to rest,” Hanson said.

“What we need to do is make sure the law is enforced correctly, services are provided in a good way and there is good support.”

The MLA respectfully countered with her own point, adding that it was also about the risk of rolling back reproductive rights of women.

“And what’s not often told is the story of difficulty women of all ages, of all economic strata, of all races ... in this country in accessing safe, timely abortions,” Hanson said.

“When we talk about statistics, we have no idea of those stories – and nor do we have a right to know.”

For Mountenay, she’s well aware of some of the “rhetoric” around the topic.

“When they say my body, my choice – that’s not scientific,” she said.

“It should be our bodies, my choice, because when a woman gets pregnant she doesn’t grow herself an extra pair of arms and legs.

“To me, you can choose what to wear, what to eat, who to have sex with but once that conception takes place, there is now all the DNA there proving this is another little human being with a beating heart.”

She likened the process to “barbaric” and a human rights violation.

“My main focus is abortion hurt me, it hurts women and took the lives of my children.”

Mountenay, who was born in Toronto, has lived in Alberta for more than two decades, during which she’s seen a number of attitudes to the topic.

“My recommendation when I speak to young people is we are not animals and we need to exercise self-control,” she said.

“I believe once conception takes place, it’s a human being with potential.”

Mountenay gave a talk at the Whitehorse Public Library later Thursday. It was to focus on her experiences with addiction, abortion and abuse, and its overlap with her human rights advocacy.

Comments (12)

Up 10 Down 23

George on May 17, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Ban abortion except for medical requirements. The choices are before you get pregnant.

Up 22 Down 10

Mick on May 17, 2019 at 2:12 pm

A woman has the right to choose.

End of story.

Up 22 Down 7

Miles Canyon on May 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Pro choice here.

Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.

Up 26 Down 10

More MIddle Ground on May 16, 2019 at 7:20 am

I agree with Middle Ground, above.
There is a difference between an acorn and an oak tree. There is a difference between a zygote and a baby.

Also, since they are so interested in supporting life, I would like to see pro-lifers create realistic social programmes for vulnerable mothers - those who are most likely to interrupt a pregnancy. Otherwise, their stance looks too much like an attempt to control women's bodies in the most intimate and reprehensible manner.

Up 25 Down 16

Brian on May 16, 2019 at 6:05 am

Unfortunately the statistics prove that when abortion is easily accessible, that region has lower crime rates, less clients on welfare or S.A. and prepared parents when a family is started.

Had my first girlfriend not gotten an abortion in grade 11, from a broken condom supplied by our High school guidance department, we would have been stuck in poverty for a long time and likely had a few more kids. I know if her dad found out, he would have drowned me in the river.
Abortion is not Birth Control, but an available medical remedy for an unplanned event.
To not support a woman’s rights to her body, just proves what a corporate attitude you have by forcing a burden on another person because of a mistake that happened. You people just look at lost revenue with 1 less potential tax payer or consumer.
Ask a unwanted child how they feel, abandoned, left on a door step, not knowing their family history or story. You can honestly sit at your dinner table and eat a meal knowing there's hundreds of thousands of children being raised in a State run facility eating crap food and not having a nurturing loving life. No biological family reading bed time stories or tucking them in at night with a kiss on the forehead.
Yeah, God Bless you folks, ignorance is bliss eh.

Up 16 Down 14

Moose on May 15, 2019 at 11:39 pm

Right now in the US, Alabama and Georgia have all but completely banned abortion. Before you think it could never happen here, consider that 12 Conservative MPs just marched in an anti-abortion rally in Ottawa. In Alberta, the new conservative government just appointed the ex-president of an anti-abortion group as Minister of Education. Let that sink in.

Up 36 Down 6

Middle Ground on May 15, 2019 at 11:06 am

I belong to the silent majority on this divisive issue. On the pro-life extreme they view that life begins at the moment of conception and that the fertilized eggs rights overrides the woman's rights immediately. On the pro-choice extreme they view that life doesn't begin until after the baby is born & that the woman's rights overrides the baby's rights until then.
Both sides are unwilling to even consider a middle ground where there are times that either the fetus' or the woman's rights overrides the others.
The first trimester the woman's right to choose for her own body should override the rights of the fetus. During then there should be abortion on demand.
During the second trimester there should only be abortions if the health & life of the woman is at risk.
During the third trimester the fetus' right to life should override the woman's right to choose as it can survive outside the womb then. There should be no abortions allowed then.
I know both sides will attack this because it threatens their extreme beliefs.
But until we can have an open conversation that seeks to balance the rights of woman & the rights of the unborn then we're never going to find a solution that's good for all!

Up 63 Down 12

David Griffiths on May 14, 2019 at 10:22 am

Sadly your article fails to make mention of the fact that Denise Mountenay is an ordained minister and her stance on abortion is undoubtedly highly influenced and misguided by her religious beliefs.

Up 16 Down 6

Liam on May 14, 2019 at 7:26 am

Informative article! I wish the discourse in the country could be as balanced as this. For example, Canadian film distributors have refused to bring a successful film about an ex-Planned Parenthood director becoming a pro-life advocate into Canadian theatres because of politics. Critics have said the film paints a very humane view of the issue, and like your article says, doesn't paint one side entirely evil or good. Check out "Unplanned". Thanks again for the article.

Up 26 Down 8

Juniper Jackson on May 14, 2019 at 2:15 am

We already have abortion.. what are the abortionists going on about? Personally? I'd pay for birth control, but not for someone to have 6 abortions. I do know a women who has had 6 abortions. Now they have a do it yourself pill?

While abortion would not be for me.. I am not my brothers keeper.. it doesn't matter what it is, everyone is responsible for their own actions. As usual.. I don't want to pay for it.

Up 62 Down 7

Selina on May 13, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Oh please, you bleeding hearts! I've had my own experiences with abortion and let me say...there are enough unwanted children in this world who need homes. I am extremely pro choice! I prefer people not get themselves in that position in the first place but the choice should be theirs. No one else's. So if that choice is taken away women will go back to back ally's and other ways of doing it themselves and die...and aren't their lives important ? Soooo many people that should never get pregnant and have kids in the first place! Mind your own business. It's not your decision to make.

Up 72 Down 7

Johnson on May 13, 2019 at 2:48 pm

So this woman who had not one but two abortions is campaigning against them?
Maybe learn to live with your regret, seek counselling, and stop demanding that the law be based on your regrets.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.