Healthcare workers are not specifically protected from being required or coerced to participate in performing abortions.
Several provinces have adopted a policy that doctors must provide an effective referral for procedures that violate their deeply held beliefs. Several doctors’ groups including EFC-affiliate the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada have challenged such policies in court, so far without getting them repealed.
Conscience protection for healthcare workers could be introduced either federally or provincially. For details on previous court cases and the latest news, see the What's Happening section at www.TheEFC.ca/Euthanasia.
Canada’s abortion law was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1988, because the court found that the law was not consistently applied across the country. Since that time there have been no legal restrictions on abortion. Abortion may be legally performed until the birth of the child, using any means available.
According to Section 223 (1) of the Canadian Criminal Code, a child is considered a human being only when it “has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother...”
The courts have said that protection of the fetus is a legitimate legislative objective and should be pursued; however, the unborn child’s legal standing is still not clearly defined.
Abortion and fetal rights issues have many facets:
- Conscience protection for healthcare workers who object to participating in abortion on the basis of their deeply held beliefs.
- Sex-selective abortion which terminates a pregnancy due to the sex of the unborn child, and particularly targets females.
- Fetal rights legislation, for example, providing legal protection for preborn children injured or killed during the commission of an offence against the child’s mother.
- Restricted speech for those who object to abortion. Picketing at abortion clinics and hospitals is restricted in some provinces. Pro-life university student groups have been refused official club status.
- Informed consent on fetal development and the possible side effects and complications of abortion for women.
- Government funding for abortion in private clinics varies from province to province.
- Social and/or financial support is offered to women through crisis pregnancy centres. Adequate social welfare programs also provide financial assistance. Abortion must not seem like the only choice.
- Data is not made available on the number of abortions performed, although it is a publicly-funded procedure.
- Adoption as a loving, positive alternative to abortion.
For more information, see the EFC’s Resources below, or visit www.weneedalaw.org, www.physiciansforlife.ca, www.lifecanada.org, and www.lifesitenews.com. (The EFC is not responsible for what you may find at these external links and does not necessarily endorse all the content.)
All human life is precious. Life is a gift from God for us to respect and protect through all its stages, beginning at conception (Psalm 139). Each person’s life has worth and dignity because we are created by God, made in His image and loved by him (Genesis 1:26-27; John 3:16).
This belief compels us to protect and promote life, and oppose practices that destroy or devalue human life. Reasons for abortion may include an unborn child of an unwanted gender or with a disability, an unsupportive or abusive partner, financial constraints or the belief that pregnancy and parenting will interfere with career or education. Sometimes the circumstances surrounding conception are difficult or traumatic.
We need to support those with an unexpected pregnancy. Pregnancy may involve sickness, fatigue, social censure and a curtailed lifestyle. It may interfere with work or education. We must work to create alternatives and ensure support for women facing unplanned or difficult pregnancies. Pregnancy is the first step of parenting. It creates a new relationship for the mother, father and extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles. We must offer practical ongoing support, as well as a reminder that each life is a gift.
Adoption is a loving, positive alternative for those who determine they cannot raise their child. It preserves the life of the child and places them within a family. For Christians, this echoes the way that God seeks us and adopts us as His children. We must act with gentleness and respect in all our interactions as we offer support and advocate for life.