Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
March 4, 2002
Break abortion debate taboo
Now it has come to this. A Leger Marketing poll has found that more than twice as many Canadians believe it is immoral to shoplift as believe it is immoral to have an abortion (WCR, Feb. 25). Even fewer Canadians believe doctor-assisted suicide to be immoral.
Shoplifting, of course, is against the law; abortion isn't. Doctor-assisted suicide is still illegal, but the official policy of the governing federal Liberal party is to legalize it. At a time they feel to be appropriate, they will likely attempt to do so.
Still, one has to wonder about the role of law in forming public morality. Legal abortion became available in Canada in 1969, but was still subject to Criminal Code restrictions. It was illegal, but wide exceptions were made for its use.
Over the next few years, the number of abortions grew steadily before finally levelling off at about 65,000 a year. In 1988, the Supreme Court declared that even the weak Criminal Code provisions of abortion were unconstitutional. The court threw out the law and invited Parliament to write a different abortion law.
The Mulroney government introduced a bill which would have put abortion back into the Criminal Code, but would have still been very permissive. Sadly, the legislation was defeated in the Senate, in part because pro-life senators would only approve of a far-more restrictive law (which there was virtually no hope of obtaining).
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops supported the Mulroney proposal because it believed it was the best law obtainable at the time. The bishops were criticized for not being pro-life enough, but were later vindicated by Pope John Paul who wrote in The Gospel of Life that when it is not possible to overturn a pro-abortion law, then it becomes morally acceptable for someone whose opposition is well-known to support a proposed law that would at least place some restrictions on abortion.
Canada was left as the only industrialized nation with no law regarding abortion. Abortion numbers again began to climb before leveling off at about 120,000 a year.
Because of Parliament's failure to act, the situation now is more serious. Not only are many more unborn babies being killed, but abortion is now regarded as a woman's right.
There is virtually no public discussion of abortion in Canada - it is a taboo topic. All of this has contributed to the fact that 89 per cent of Canadians see shoplifting as immoral, but only 42 per cent see anything morally wrong with taking the life of an unborn child.
Parliament, the courts and the major media are likely to be of little help in changing this situation. They all helped create this situation and have given no sign of doing anything that might give some protection to the unborn child.
Our best hope comes from the margins - mainly from women who have had abortions and have been willing to say publicly that the pro-choice story that there will be no ill effects for women by having an abortion is false. The emotional fallout and medical complications that come from abortion are often devastating.
Denise Mountenay's local book Forgiven of Murder . . . A True Story has touched many hearts. Last week's WCR told the story of musician Erin Beck whose song about her abortion has led to repentance by young men and consolation for young women who though they were alone in suffering the emotional after-effects of killing their unborn baby.
It is the stories of the survivors that hold out the hope of changing the heart of a nation which has lost its conscience over the bloodbath occurring in its midst. And if their messages continue to get out, despite the media blackout on serious discussion of abortion, we may find a way to get back our future and turn the tide of this most foul evil.
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