We are all aware that there are some in the pro-life community who agree with the gestational approach, and there are some who do not agree with it. This is fair, and it is okay that we do not all agree on the same approach to abortion.
They stated (rightly) that the debate on the gestational strategy has:
"sometimes [been] heated and hurtful".
I have grave concerns however, by the tone of this article whose sole purpose seems to be to demean the gestational approach, which the author does not themselves believe in.
Archbishop Miller of Vancouver and Cardinal Collins both published statements that a gestational approach to abortion is a moral and valid belief.
"This teaching [in Evangelium Vitae n. 73] makes clear that legislation which intends to limit the harm done by a pro-abortion law is not itself cooperation with an unjust law but rather "a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects." A law aimed at limiting the number of legally authorized abortions does not entail the approval of those abortions that it fails to criminalize.
In the absence of a "pro-abortion" law within the Criminal Code of Canada, that is, of a law that explicitly permits abortion, some think that gestational legislation — or any incrementalist legislation — might create a new law that implicitly authorizes abortion. However, in Canada, a series of court rulings, a failure on the part of the federal Parliament to pass criminal legislation, and a variety of provincial laws, regulations and funding formulas intended to provide access to abortion, have the effect of a defacto legal regime that permits abortion with almost no restrictions. Legislation intended to restrict access to abortion would not create a new legal situation in Canada which would authorize abortions, but instead would intend to limit the number of abortions already authorized under the law. Moreover, such legislation intends to limit the harm done to public morality by the injustice already present in the defacto legal situation."
Many of us welcomed this statement by Archbishop Miller. However the writer of the newsletter apparently did not. They stated that the:
"church hierarchy entered into the fray, sadly raising more tension."
I disagree. It is always healthy and proper for the church to state their position on issues of morality. This is what our church leaders are supposed to do: guide the flock on moral issues. With something as important as abortion, their statements provided us with this necessary guidance. Those of us who believe gestational legislation is a valid philosophy, were encouraged that our actions were in line with Catholic Church teaching. As to raising more tension, this is only true for those who do not accept a gestational strategy. For the rest of us, there is no tension, only joy that we may continue doing what we are already doing.
The newsletter then stated that:
"[regarding a gestational approach] it is argued that we wish only the good, to protect the children after twenty weeks, but implicit in this approach is the fact that those we do not include we abandon."
It is not implicit at all that we are abandoning any babies. Here is what Archbishop Miller said regarding this:
"A law aimed at limiting the number of legally authorized abortions does not entail the approval of those abortions that it fails to criminalize."
I was also very troubled by the long quote the writer provided from abortion doctor Morgentaler from 1967 that appeared to be used to make a not so veiled comparison of Morgentaler, to people who believe in a gestational approach.
(Note: In 1967 the existing abortion law prohibited all abortions, so the quote is not pertinent to the current situation where there is no legal restrictions on abortion.)
The writer then quotes Dr. Morgentaler who said that the end does not justify the means. The writer says of this comment, that:
"Strange he did not see the plank in his own eye. Let us not be the same."
The implication is that those of us who believe in a gestational approach to get rid of abortion, are wrong. We are not wrong, as Archbishop Miller also stated,:
"The teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter is clear. Under the conditions articulated in Evangelium Vitae, n. 73, it is morally licit to work for and to vote for legislation, including gestational legislation, which limits the harmful effect of an unjust legal regime that permits abortion."
For those people who cannot support gestational legislation, like the writer of the article, this is a fair belief to hold, and is not against the Church. We respect that viewpoint and we welcome any sound evidence that shows the gestational approach does not work.
However, what is "hurtful" and harmful to the movement, is articles such as this, which provides no evidence, but rather, simply criticizes our morally justified beliefs of the gestational approach.
Archbishop Miller closes with these wise words:
"We pray that the prolife movement may not be divided in spirit by disagreements regarding the practical wisdom of gestational legislation. We implore all within the movement to refrain from questioning the good will or motives of those who have taken a different stand from their own on this issue."