Abortion play draws a big crowd - Macleans.ca

Abortion play draws a big crowd

‘The Abortion Monologues’ premiered last year in Portland


Abortion play draws  a big crowdA new play set to open in Calgary is stirring up controversy before the actors even take the stage. The Abortion Monologues, which will be performed on Feb. 4 at Mount Royal University, features dramatic monologues from 23 fictional female characters “at all ages and stages of reproductive life” speaking about their experiences with abortion, says author Jane Cawthorne.

Cawthorne, who left a job teaching women’s studies at Mount Royal a couple of years ago to pursue writing full-time, spent two decades volunteering with not-for-profit groups in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights; the play was inspired by some of the stories she heard. “I felt that the public discussion on abortion was polarized, and didn’t reflect what goes on in the real lives of women,” says the Calgary-based writer, who describes herself as pro-choice. Last year, The Abortion Monologues premiered in Portland, Ore., to a crowd of almost 400 people; roughly 300 are expected at next week’s performance, with tickets almost sold out.

Leah Hallman, who leads the student group Campus Pro-Life at the University of Calgary, compares it to “a play about slavery from the perspective of slave owners, and not of the slaves.” The club is considering picketing the performance, and judging from Campus Pro-Life’s history, it might not be empty talk: CPL attracted national attention two years ago for erecting graphic displays around the U of C campus that compared abortion to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. The university sued Campus Pro-Life for trespassing. (Charges were stayed; Campus Pro-Life maintains its official club status.)

Cawthorne says most of her characters—including a woman in her seventies looking back on her life as a nurse “and how it made her feel about her own experience with unintended pregnancy, in days when having an abortion was illegal”—are “tremendously ambivalent” about their decision. Her goal is to challenge everyone’s assumptions about the topic: “Whatever you believe about abortion, at some point in the play, you will be forced to think again,” she says.


Abortion play draws a big crowd

  1. Leah, and every member of UC Pro-Life, are one gutsy bunch of students.

  2. I'm dissapointed the show sold out – I think this will be a great chance to open up this controversial and emotional topic for discussion. I agree that the U of C Pro Lifers are gutsy. Comparing abortion to slave ownership is outrageous and ignorant.

  3. Alumnae Theatre Company is presenting the Toronto premiere of "The Abortion Monologues" on Sunday June 20, 2010 as a benefit performance for Planned Parenthood and Choices in Health.

  4. This is intriguing. I have been wanting to watch shows like these.

  5. The debate on abortion is merely opinion. Moral values are based on either self-centered, God-based or society-based non-provable basic assumptions. For the Catholic viewpoint let me excerpt from the free ebook series “And Gulliver Returns” (http://andgulliverreturns.info) The Abortion chapter in Book 4 elaborates the pros and cons of the 3 ethical assumptions. Let me attempt to summarize the changing Catholic position. From the 13th Century the views of St. Thomas Aquinas, that male embryos got their souls about 4 weeks after conception, females somewhat later, were the standard. His was a Christionized view of Aristotle's ideas.
    The crux of the modern idea, that the soul is infused at conception, might be traced to St. Paul (Romans 5:12) who started the ball rolling on ‘original sin.' 500 years later St. Augustine popularized the idea. But the Blessed Virgin was born without original sin, her Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius IX declared this in 1854. Then in 1870 he decided that popes were infallible in church doctrine. So was his pronouncement retroactive?
    Recent popes have generally followed Pius's idea that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception. This brings with it some theological problems. Since many fertilized ova never implant in the uterus what happens to these little souls?
    If you are really interested in the question, see the aforementioned chapter. It is done in detail.
    Additionally, unwanted children don't have a fair chance at a happy life, which may affect their chances of a joyful afterlife. Adoption is only a limited option since there are not unlimited adoptive parents–especially for questionably healthy babies–like crack babies. Abortion is good from both a self-centered and a society based morality. It is also moral from most religious views, if they don't follow the Pope's opinions. If you are a conservative Catholic who believes that the Pope gets his opinions directly from God, it makes sense. But if you are not a strong Catholic your opinions are certainly on thin ice–logically.