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20 Years since Morgentaler – Nothing to Celebrate
Abortions are performed in Canada during all nine months of pregnancy, including partial birth abortion procedures.

Some “pro-choice” groups are celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the January 28, 1988 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Morgentaler that struck down the country's abortion law. There’s really nothing to celebrate.

There is a mistaken belief that abortion has become a right, when the reality is that it has taken place in a legislative void.

It’s true the Supreme Court struck down the existing abortion law. They also unanimously declared that Parliament has the jurisdiction to create a new law or laws dealing with abortion. In 1989 legislation was introduced to address the constitutional inconsistencies of the previous law but the legislation, having passed in the House of Commons, failed to become law following a tie vote in the Senate. Since that time Canada has been the only western democracy without legislation that would restrict abortion.

Abortions are performed in Canada during all nine months of pregnancy, including partial birth abortion procedures.  This is nothing to celebrate.

There is a mistaken belief that abortion has become a right, when the reality is that for 20 years Canadian abortions have simply taken place in a legislative void.

What has been the impact of this void on the legal landscape of our nation?

Roughly two million abortions have taken place in Canada over the last 20 years.  This is approximately the population of the City of Montreal.

As the baby boomer generation begins, in retirement, to draw on a system that is struggling already to keep up with the needs of Canada’s aging population, we find ourselves wondering where the next generation of workers will come from. They’ll have to come from somewhere else because Canada has buried the generation that should have been born to us.

Countless numbers of women and men discover too late, for one or more of their children, that life has inherent worth and is to be respected and protected through all of its stages, beginning at conception. Post-abortion stress disorder affects many in different ways and at different stages of life, sometimes years or decades later. For those who have wrestled with post-abortion trauma there is forgiveness and a need for the loving ministry of the Church.

The courts have seen the rise of a new form of litigation. The potential of a wrongful life suit now has doctors concerned not only about their own imperfections that might cost a life, but the imperfections of any new life they might assist in bringing into the world as parents sue for not having all the facts before finding out they have an imperfect child.

On the issue of abortion, a society founded on principles of democratic interaction – open discussion on almost any topic – has encountered a most undemocratic phenomenon.

On university campuses across the country, student unions are silencing one group: pro-life clubs. In 1999 three officers of the University of British Columbia's Alma Mater Society (AMS) – the UBC students' union – were caught on video ripping posters, overturning the tables and stomping pamphlets into the ground at a Students for Life display. No action was taken. Memorial University of Newfoundland and Lakehead University recently refused status to campus pro-life clubs, thus prohibiting them from advertising or engaging in any form of official meeting on campus. Within recent days, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint brought against the UBC-Okanagan students' association for refusing club status to another branch of Students for Life stating that no discrimination had taken place.

Planned Parenthood, once a respected leader in providing advice on parenthood options, recently went to the media to attack the First Place Pregnancy Centre. First Place is a charity that Ottawa Senators’ hockey player wives had selected as one of several charities to benefit from a fundraising drive. First Place provides a range of volunteer peer counselling and support services to pregnant women, including advising them of their full range of options – parenting, adoption, abortion – but does not make referrals to abortion centres. They do undertake continuing after-abortion counselling for the many women who wrestle with post-abortion trauma. Planned Parenthood went to the media because the Senators’ wives had decided who they were supporting. First Place withdrew from the opportunity so as not to have the other charitable recipients harmed by the negative publicity.

“Pro-choice” it seems does not apply to freedom of choice for discussion on university campuses; freedom of choice for the foundation of a privately owned sports team to determine which charity it will select; or freedom of choice for Canada’s government to engage parliament in debate on a subject that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled it alone has the right to legislate on.

For six years in a row, Life Canada has had an independent organization conduct a statistically sound poll of Canadians attitudes toward the state of Canada’s abortion law (or more accurately, lack thereof) that displays a remarkably consistent result. The most recent is an October 2007 Environics poll that indicates over 60 percent of Canadians think there should be some law governing abortion, at least at the point of fetal viability.  Simply put, most Canadians disagree with the current situation where no law whatsoever governs the option of abortion.

Canada’s government needs to take this 20th anniversary to listen to Canadians, take stock of our future and consider the appropriateness of continuing the societal drift of the last two decades. If our government was to exercise the choice to actively engage in study, discussion and debate on the issue of abortion in order to seriously consider what limits should be prescribed in our society, perhaps the developing trend on university campuses and the use of media to manipulate private decision making after an informed decision has been made might be reversed and true choice – free discussion on matters of concern to Canadians – will be restored.

That would be something to celebrate.

Don Hutchinson is General Legal Counsel for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Related articles

Dr. Henry Morgentaler, Abortion and the Order of Canada
“By giving this award, the narrow interests of some and the misguided judgment of others have diminished Canada’s highest civilian honour” – Bruce J. Clemenger.

Honouring a Remorseless Extremist
The Order of Canada is meant to honour an individual whose contribution to the nation all Canadians can take pride in” – Barbara Kay.

Religious Group Returns 'Dishonoured' Order of Canada
An Order of Canada given to a woman for sainthood will be returned by the religious community she founded in protest over the same honour being given to an abortionist.



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