Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
September 15, 2008
Voters must keep the abortion debate alive
Perhaps it is a good thing that, for the first time since 1965, no Catholic is the leader of a major political party in the current federal election campaign. Catholic political leaders were at the forefront of the liberalization and eventual abolition of laws governing abortion in Canada. This has been a black mark on the Church's ability to pass on Catholic teaching to those who profess the faith.
It also provided a distraction from the main issue. Instead of focusing on the morality of legal abortion, public attention was sometimes diverted to whether the Church would reprimand the Catholic political leader of the day who supported legal abortion. Reprimanding politicians is a secondary, internal Church issue; the real issue is whether there should be any legislative control over abortion. It doesn't matter whether it is Catholics or others who bring about that change. It only matters that it be done.
The American political system has proved itself much better at dealing with the abortion issue than has the Canadian. The Americans openly debate this issue and significant numbers of voters make their decisions based on candidates' stances on abortion.
It is true that despite 40 years of debate and 20 years of allegedly pro-life presidents, not much has changed. But at least Americans are struggling with and debating the issue. Struggle is necessary before change can occur.
In Canada, struggle is not in the cards. When there is any hint of abortion becoming an issue for public discussion, the commanding heights of the political class impose the cone of silence.
The most recent example of this is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's scuppering of MP Ken Epp's bill on unborn victims of crime. The bill wasn't even about abortion, but Harper wanted it off the agenda because it said the unborn have rights. The Liberals were ready to pounce on the bill during the election campaign as a sign of the Conservatives' alleged hidden social conservative agenda.
This political paranoia about debating abortion is a sign of a sick democracy. Only one-third of Canadians are satisfied with the current regime of no legislative control of abortion. But the other two-thirds who are either uneasy or outright opposed to the current situation have no political voice.
What are we to do?
There is no good answer to this question. You can challenge candidates during the campaign about their stance on abortion and elect pro-life MPs. But we have seen how far that gets you.
Not very far. But it is still better than nothing. Those pro-life MPs did stand up to vote against same-sex marriage and probably they would vote against a bill allowing assisted suicide if a future government decided to move in that direction. They might be outvoted, but at least such a travesty would not pass without opposition.
But the abortion issue cannot be abandoned. More than 100,000 unborn Canadians are deliberately killed every year. Roughly three million have died since abortion was legalized. Canada proclaims to be the peaceful kingdom, but its hands are stained with oceans of blood.
It will likely take decades to change that situation. A decades-long strategy is primarily one of education, one of changing the culture in which we live. But it also involves the brave witness of elected officials who will be lonely voices speaking out, even if it means ridicule and the loss of appointments to plum positions.
Morgentaler gets the Order of Canada while the courageous pro-life MP is banished to the nosebleed section of the backbenches. That's the way it is and it is only likely to get worse in the short term.
Realize that and seriously consider voting for the pro-life candidate anyway. Legal abortion is the greatest moral catastrophe in Canada's history.
Support for the right to life should be a basic belief of anyone who wishes to serve in our national Parliament.
- Glen Argan
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