Faith Today - Archival Site

September/October 2009 Issue

The Gathering Place
Presence, Perseverance and Persuasion
By Bruce J. Clemenger

Let’s ensure Canadians appreciate – and our laws reflect – the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death

The pro-life movement in Canada has momentum. New and younger people are engaging in creative and diverse expressions. I can’t help wondering if the aggressiveness of those who oppose the pro-life movement is due to a fear that the momentum is shifting.

Polling certainly indicates that young people are less sympathetic to abortion than their parents. Perhaps they can see more clearly through the fog of an ignorance of convenience that an older generation finds comfort in. Perhaps they intuitively understand that the unborn child is a human being and all vulnerable human life, whether due to circumstance or age, deserves the opportunity to thrive. Their humanitarian concern crosses lines that ideologies have tried to maintain.

The illogic of the current legal vacuum around unborn children is not sustainable. It is producing moral, medical and legal hypocrisies. In some provinces, a child injured in the womb can sue for damages once born alive; however, for an injury causing death there is no consequence. A “wanted child” is called a baby while still in the womb but an unwanted child is dehumanized in language and treatment, with less protection and recognition than an animal. On any given day, unborn children are being delivered in hospitals on one side of town while unborn children on the other side are being “clinically removed” out of the womb. Commercials and the entire marketing industry celebrate pregnancy but we are told that the recognition of the personhood of the unborn child within doesn’t matter.

It’s important to recognize that the legal situation in Canada is not like the one in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that a woman has a right to an abortion. Not so in Canada. I recall being in Canada’s Supreme Court as we were intervening in a case. One lawyer in her oral comments mentioned that a woman has a right to an abortion in Canada. The chief justice abruptly interrupted her and reminded her the Supreme Court has never so ruled. The Supreme Court struck down Canada’s laws governing abortion in 1988 because the laws were being inconsistently applied across Canada. The court never acknowledged a right to abortion nor has it ever said that governments cannot regulate abortion. We live in a legal vacuum and no government since the Mulroney government has been willing or courageous enough to introduce new legislation.

In this context, influencing law and public policy takes presence, perseverance and persuasion. Influence must be ongoing, consistent and able to penetrate across time, ideologies and party lines. The EFC and other groups regularly and consistently provide sound resources for MPs and their staff, senators and before parliamentary committees and the courts.

And the consistent public advocacy of organizations like Campaign Life ensures a sustained presence through initiatives like the Life Chain held in October and the March for Life rally on Parliament Hill held each May. These initiatives and the activities of pro-life groups on university campuses, though some are controversial, keep the realities of abortion visible and literally show why the status quo is unacceptable. Despite resistance, our efforts are persuasive. Before the courts or in parliamentary committees, several strong attempts to change Canada’s laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia have been thwarted. Our contributions to the development of regulation for reproductive and genetic technologies resulted in a law that is by no means perfect but is stronger than most other western countries. A necessary demonstration of our commitment to the sanctity of human life involves caring for the vulnerable people in our midst. Each of us can do something: help pregnant women or young moms in need, open our homes to adoption and fostering, care for people nearing the end of their lives. To preserve and instil a commitment to the sanctity of human life, there must be those who live it out; otherwise our words are like clanging cymbals. The goal of the pro-life movement is to continue to instil in our society a deep commitment for the sanctity of all human life, from conception to natural death, and to ensure our laws reflect that commitment. This is not a cause; it is a calling to be present with others in need, affirming their value and dignity. We must practise it and encourage others in the doing.

Bruce J. Clemenger is the president of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Read more columns at www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/clemenger.

 Look inside >
View the complete Sep/Oct 2009 digital edition

Click above to browse the digital edition

Homepage of Sep/Oct 2009 issue
Subscribe to get the full magazine

Samples from Sep/Oct 2009
(Text-only versions)

From the Editor
Life is Precious

The Gathering Place

Presence, Perseverance and Persuasion

Haiti: Among the Poorest

God at Work in Denominations
An Inviting Blend

A Church You Should Know
New Life Church, Duncan, B.C.

What Do You Think?
Respond by sending a letter to the editors, or comment on our Facebook page.

Copyright ©2016 The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. All rights reserved.