It is not just pro-life activists that lament the fact that the practice of abortion is rampant in Canada.
The practice seems virtually limitless thanks to the concomitant promotion of promiscuity and the vested interest in maintaining the status quo. A practice that drew an extraordinary 1 million signatures in opposition in 1975 (at a time when the national population was only 23 million) is now readily accessible through a combination of public and private clinics, completely subsidised through public healthcare. The Ontario government is so biased against the public’s perception of the public good that it has actually blocked public access to the statistics.
The disunity in the pro-life camp
Yet it isn’t only the strength of the vested interests that have created this wretched situation. There is also a failure to oppose it with any strength or conviction. It is not just the politicians who lack strength – it is the voices behind them. This lies in part to divisions within the pro-life camp. My critique of gestational legislation as an acceptable policy is widely shared, a source of frustration for some pro-lifers, because they see it as an achievable aim (unlike a total ban).
Yet that is where they are wrong. Gestational legislation ought not to succeed for the reasons I have given. It cannot succeed because it needs unity within the camp to do so.
Action requires unity
If pro-lifers really want to be pragmatic and do something about the hideous act of abortion, they should begin by working with people that agree with them, rather than seeking to compromise with those who don’t.
I would add that the demand for compromise is also uncharitable. Christians should not be compelling others on matters of conscience.
Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken in a spirit of unity which would be both achievable and highly effective.
If the point is to unite the pro-life camp, and we all are willing to support incremental legislation, which is the way to win battles in the war, then I think those who agree on the principles need to collaborate and to prioritize areas where I presume there is consensus in the pro-life camp.
- Defunding abortion: This is to my mind one obvious place to begin. Why should a voluntary medical operation (often taking place in private clinics) be fully funded by the public health care system when others are not? The question should be asked, why should my tax dollars go to fund someone else’s lifestyle choices, particularly when I consider them (and the industry around it which promotes rampant promiscuity and sexual experimentation) immoral? There is a clear lack of equity. If GSA clubs can be opened in schools on the basis of one student’s request (even in protesting Catholic schools), then surely elective operations cannot receive universal coverage in the face of strong opposition by taxpayers.
- Personhood status: The motion to revise the 400 year old view of the personhood of the fetus by MP Stephen Woodworth is well worth supporting. The case for doing so on the basis of legal precedent alone is very strong, as Margaret Somerville makes clear.
- Informed Consent legislation: Abortions performed for those under 18 should require parental consent. You can’t vote before then in Canada (i.e. you’re not considered a responsible adult), so how can abortion be permissible?
- Partial-birth abortion ban: This practice could be halted if legislation were passed determining a partially-emerged child to be no different than a fully-emerged child, and thereby killing it subject to all the same penalties as murdering a child. It is a barbaric practice that would surely bring the odium of the public.
- ‘Cooling off periods’: There could be legislation requiring a woman to wait 24 hours after approaching an abortuary and receiving information on the physiological and psychological consequences of abortion for the mother.
All these are practical measures to which I would expect almost all those who are in the pro-life camp could agree. As such, they must be pursued with vigour.
I think that the first two options are the priority, because the first has a multiplier effect of undermining the nefarious industry that profits from the practice, and the second has the potential to do far more.