David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

The Most Politically Incorrect Issue of All?

Brandon Sun, April 18, 2016 - David McConkey

What’s the most politically incorrect issue of all? The issue that even Donald Trump shies away from? The issue that demands attention in Manitoba, yet is not mentioned during a provincial election campaign? The issue? Abortion.

A couple of weeks ago, Trump got into trouble talking about abortion. Trump said that if abortion were illegal, women getting an abortion should be “punished.”

At first blush, that seemed to be a most reasonable statement. If abortion were against the law, are not the women who get an abortion breaking the law? Should not those women be punished as the criminals they are?

But Trump was deluged by criticism. Then – unusual for him – he retracted his comments.

Trump supporters defended him by noting that, when asked the same abortion question, other contestants in the Republican race dodged the issue. As he matured as a politician, Trump would do the same dodging.

Ladies and gentlemen: this is big news! Here is an issue too politically incorrect even for Donald Trump!
Abortion is a hot topic because it is about women and power. Empowered women make decisions about their own bodies. This is threatening to some traditional outlooks and to some people, especially some men.

“Donald does seem to have an issue with women. Donald doesn't like strong women,” Trump’s chief competitor Ted Cruz said, as the two traded insults. In contrast, Cruz portrays himself as being comfortable with strong women. Cruz points to his mother: a pioneering female computer programmer. He also points to his wife: a high-powered Wall St. banker.

Cruz may be right about Trump and women. But Cruz is wrong about the larger issue of power and men and women. The big challenge for men is not about respecting a few ultra-successful “strong women.” The big challenge for men is about being comfortable in a society that empowers women in general.

We don’t need to bother worrying about wealthy, high-powered “strong women.” With respect, they can take care of themselves. They have the money and the influence to get what they want. And they always have access to abortion services – even when abortion is against the law.
Instead, let’s remember the more vulnerable women. Male politicians can talk about “punishing” women who get an abortion. But make no mistake: these men are only talking about “punishing” poor and powerless women. These men are not talking about “punishing” well-connected women, like their own friends or family members.
What about here in Manitoba? As much as any other province, we in Manitoba have let down our women. Especially the most vulnerable women who are the abused, the missing, the murdered, and those whose lives are so dysfunctional that their children must be taken away by the government.

Manitoba’s women need the services that can empower them. Like police protection, mental health and counselling help, and health care including access to birth control and to abortion.

Careful now: we are entering politically incorrect territory. For years in Manitoba – under governments of both political parties – the lack of abortion services has been a shameful open secret. Abortion is supposed to be a Medicare-funded right, but its provision – especially outside of Winnipeg – has been woefully inadequate. And politicians do not want to talk about it.
As with other politically incorrect topics, the people are ahead of the politicians. In the CBC’s interactive online feature, Vote Compass, Manitobans during this election voiced their concern about abortion services. About 30% of Manitoba PC, and 60% of Green, Liberal and NDP supporters said that abortion services should be more widely available. These are remarkably high numbers considering that the availability of abortion services in Manitoba is almost never publicly debated.

So, how to get improved abortion services discussed and then implemented? The answer is not to look for a saviour like the outlandish Donald Trump. Even Trump dares not talk about the issue.

The answer – not just during an election, but all the time – is political leadership from us: the citizens.

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See also: 

Political Correctness and the Manitoba Election

Remember Lesson of History on International Women's Day

Politically Incorrect Issues This Election

More Emphasis on Domestic Violence Prevention is Crucial

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David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
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