Why, as a Catholic, I cannot support Bill C-510 By Geoffrey F. Cauchi, LL.B. Issue: October 2010
It is disturbing that Geoffrey Cauchi has publicly come out against Bill C-510 Roxanne's law, a bill that would make it a criminal offense for anyone to coerce a woman to abort her unborn child. This is a positive pro-life bill because it will protect some babies. It will protect a woman who decides to keep her baby. It does this by allowing her to press charges against someone who tries to coerce her to abort.
(Mr. Cauchi's article also notes that: "the opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the pro-life organizations of which he is a member or leader." This may be so, but Mr. Cauchi is the president of Alliance for Life Ontario. Therefore the optics of his non-support for this bill will be very influential on the pro-life community, even if these are only his personal opinions.)
It does not need to be stated that Canada has no abortion law and that an abortion can be legally procured in Canada at any time during the nine month pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever, or for no reason at all. All pro-lifers are extremely well aware of this fact. We also know from past experience that all attempts to enact limitations on abortion have met with zero success. It's time to make some progress.
Mr. Cauchi says that according to Catholic teaching:
"if a proposed Bill is an intrinsically unjust law, it cannot, in good conscience, be publicly supported by Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium. In the Papal Encyclical, Evangelium vitae (EV, 73.2), Pope John Paul II, citing section 22 of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s Declaration on Procured Abortion (1974), confirmed long-standing Church teaching when he said: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it.” (the “No Exceptions Statement”)."
Mr. Cauchi then goes on to make his case that this is an unjust law, essentially because some unborn children will not be saved. Yet saving the lives of some of our children is better than condemning all of the aborted ones. Bill C-510 will do this.
With all due respect to Mr. Cauchi, he is a banking lawyer and not a moral theologian. I must therefore defer to what the moral theologians and ethicists have to say on the subject of incrementalism in abortion. I refer the reader to an article written by William E. May, “The Misinterpretation of John Paul II’s Teaching in Evangelium vitae n.73,” The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2006, Vol. 6 No. 4. p. 705. Mr. May makes some key observations on incrementalism. Here are some excerpts:
On page 705:
"In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, John Paul II takes up a "particular problem of conscience" that can occur "[when] a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on" (n. 73). He then makes the following most important statement: In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil effect. (n. 73)"
On page 707:
"But John Paul II judges that the kind of political decisions which can be licit do not have as their moral objects permitting or authorizing abortions, or the intentional killing of unborn children. Rather, the object that morally specifies the legislator’s act in this situation is to extend the protection of law to the lives of unborn children who are not protected under existing legislation or under alternative proposed legislation, which this legislation is intended to replace. This is evidently a good moral object."
On Page 713:
"Ratzinger writes: According to the principles of Catholic morality, an action can be considered licit whose object and proximate effect consist in limiting an evil insofar as is possible. Thus, when one intervenes in a situation judged evil in order to correct it for the better, and when the action is not evil in itself, such an action should be considered not as the voluntary acceptance of the lesser evil but rather as the effective improvement of the existing situation, even though one remains aware that not all evil present is able to be eliminated for the moment.19"
A few months ago Cardinal Ouellette and Archbishop Prendergrast said in a CTV interview:
"I think we need to look at the issue of how many abortions there are in our country and so Cardinal Ouellet and I last week took the tact of saying, look alright we aren’t going to change the law at present anyway, so let’s do something about reducing the number. If everyone says there should be as few abortions as possible, what are we doing for that? Why are we happy that the number is staying more or less static? You know in a country like this? The Cardinal gave the statistics that with 10,000,000 people in Belgium, they have fewer abortions than they have in Quebec where they have 8,000,000 people. Why is that? Who would not be opposed to reducing the number of abortions? (emphasis added) I don't think anybody...Well we would like to change the law, I would like to change the law and at least put some restrictions on it at least something like you have in Belgium where after the first trimester there aren’t any abortions or generally there aren’t any."
We can reduce the number of abortions by supporting bill C-510. Once we have some protection for the unborn, we know the job isn't finished--we will then move on to the next bill. If we insist on waiting for the perfect bill that completely eliminates all abortions, and decide that is the only acceptable objective, our children will continue to be destroyed.
If an incremental bill can save one child of the 100,000 killed each year through abortion, this bill will have been worth it.