Friday, July 29, 2011

Wanted: pro-life party leader

I thought we finally had a political leader, ready willing and able, to take on the pro-abortions in this country. Someone who was actually going to stand up and take a principled stand on abortion and call for it to be defunded.

But no, Tim Hudak, who I thought was pro-life, has changed his tune.

Yet there are good reasons why we should defund abortion.

In a recent "pro-choice" editorial on this story, the Ottawa Citizen made some misleading comments on the defunding of abortion:
"Abortion will continue to be funded in Ontario for the foreseeable future; to de-list it would likely violate the Charter - as would other legislation that blocked a woman's access to abortion. Furthermore, abortion is deemed a fundamental health-care service under the Canada Health Act."

First of all, the Charter never gave a woman a constitutional right to abortion, so defunding abortion couldn't violate the Charter. The ruling only struck down the existing law as unconstitutional, and the Court left it to Parliament to bring about a new law, which of course, it has never done. Since Parliament has never come up with a new law, abortion is allowed in Canada with no restrictions right up until birth. Abortion is legal but it isn't a charter right by anybody's definition except maybe the pro-abortions'.

Second, the Canada Health Act covers services that "are medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability". Abortion isn't medically necessary in most cases, so why do we publicly fund it? Pregnancy is a perfectly natural and healthy condition, without which, humankind would become extinct. Heart bypass operations, cutting out cancerous tumours and appendectomy's are all medically necessary because they save lives. These procedures should be, and are, covered by the Canada Health Act. Abortion only takes lives.

Third, the Canada Health Act makes no such claim that abortion is a "fundamental health-care service".

Finally, what do Canadians think about funding something that isn't medically necessary and isn't a fundamental health-care service? According to a recent poll commissioned by Sun Media taken by Abacus Poll Inc., only 45% of Canadians believed that legal abortions should be covered entirely by the public health care system. Another 22% felt that the public health care system should fund them only in extreme cases while 20% believed that they should be paid for by the patient.

It's too bad that Mr. Hudak wasn't advocating to defund abortion because a lot of people would support him. Instead, he chose to rip out a page from Stephen Harper's "I won't reopen the abortion debate because I want to win the election" hand-book.

I am looking forward to the day when we have a Canadian political leader who will stand up publicly, look Canadians in the eye, and say "Hey, I'm running for leadership -- and by the way -- did I tell you I'm pro-life and I will stand up for our unborn citizens?"

The day will come when this will happen. It's just too bad that it's taking so long.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Canada can learn from Poland

Canada can learn some valuable lessons from Poland and their fight against abortion.

Just like Poland once did, Canada has no legal restrictions on abortion. Also just like Poland, our own government still refuses to debate abortion and our own media is heavily biased in favour of abortion.

The similarities are striking. Yet Poland is about to make all abortions illegal.

It began in 1980 when the Polish people set out to abolish their existing abortion law. It was a very difficult task, especially because of communism. According to Dr. Eng. Antoni Zięba:
"The regime in force at that time promoted abortion and made any public debate on this subject impossible – through media censorship and the ban on publishing not only magazines or materials but even leaflets about it... Doctors and nurses who refused to perform abortions lost their jobs....officially in the year 1980 we had 138,000 abortions per year, but in reality it was 3 or 4 times more. We posses some scientific estimations speaking about 600,000 abortions in Poland a year. These tragic numbers shocked us, forced us to act. But it was the communists propaganda which worried us the most, because of it the social consciousness concerning the evil of abortion was alarmingly low."

(Dr. Zięba's lecture is quite amazing. I suggest you read it.)

So what could be done within this repressive Communist Polish regime? Well the Poles had a powerful arrow in their quiver. Although this tool is readily available to all people everywhere, I would hazard to guess that people of the "pro-choice" persuasion, don't use it too often.

The Polish people had prayer. And the Polish people started to pray.

In 1979 Pope John Paul II visited his homeland and told the people of Poland:
“You need to pray always, and never stop. Jesus said to pray and form your life through prayer ... I express the wish and I always pray for this, that the Polish family may beget life and may be faithful to the sacred right to life” (Nowy Targ 8 June 1979).

What were the goals of this prayer initiative? Two things.

The first goal was to change Polish social consciousness regarding abortion:
“the social consciousness concerning the killing of unborn children and sensitize our society to the value of life and responsibility for each conceived human being..."

It seemed to be working. Opinion polls started to show that the objection to abortion was increasing:
"from about 35% in 1991 to 50% in 2010...this year, about 53% of Poles stood for the constitutional strengthening of the protection of human life, and around 33% of them were against."

The second goal was to create legal protection:
"to pray in the intention of abolishing the Abortion Law of 27 April 1956 and of recognizing the right to life for all conceived children...This law, let me remind you the overall number, resulted in the death of over 20 million Polish children."

By 1993 the existing abortion law was changed. Now there were now only three exceptions:
"when the life or the health of mother is endangered, when the foetus was seriously malformed and when there is suspicion that the pregnancy was a result of a criminal act".

(This law did not punish the women, but rather the doctor. Something else for Canada to think about.)

The latest success story in Poland's abortion story came at the beginning of this July.

After a successful 600,000 signature petition, which included obstetricians, gynaecologists, lawyers and journalists among its signatories, Poland’s government voted to tighten their abortion laws further by an overwhelming vote of 254 – 151 with 11 abstentions.

The fact that Poland's medical profession, lawyers and journalists were so supportive of this initiative, is key to Canada's situation too. We must get them on side.

The new law would:
"protect the right to life from the moment of conception in all circumstances by removing all exceptions from the nation's abortion laws. The law currently permits abortion for matters dealing with maternal health, rape and incest and fetal disability, which has been interpreted to include treatable issues such as cleft palate. The measure is most likely to be referred to a commission prior to the October election."

Canada can do like Poland did. We can pray. We can change social consciousness. We can blog. We can start our own grass roots movement. We can start our own petition. Maybe a petition all Canadians can agree on--like one that would ban all third-trimester abortions. We can write letters to Mr. Harper, to our MPs and to our newspapers. Repeatedly. Until they listen.

We can do it. Just like Poland did.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Does consensus make abortion moral?

A common myth in Canada's abortion debate, is that there is consensus that the debate is settled. Of course, we all know that the abortion debate is far from settled.

But even if there was consensus--and all of us agreed with our fully-funded-restriction-free-access-to-abortion--would that make it moral?

Thomas D. Williams says no.

In his book Knowing Right from Wrong, Williams writes:
"The fact that a law is democratically passed doesn't mean it is morally right. Democratically determined legislation bears no guarantee of moral infallibility any more than other edicts or decrees. It must be judged according to its conformity to the objective moral law. Nor does the acceptance of a given behavior by the majority of persons confer moral goodness. Consensus has never been a good measure of morality. As Yahweh commanded the Israelites: "You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing" (Exod. 23:2)."

"We know from historical experience, after all, that the majority can be mistaken as easily as an individual. Remember, for instance, that Adolf Hitler himself was elected democratically. Slavery, too, was embraced by a majority for many years, and abolitionists—whom we now look upon as heroes—were seen as fanatics at the time. Future generations will no doubt look back upon our own and regard certain "legal" practices like abortion and euthanasia as vestiges of a darker age and wonder incredulously how a supposedly "enlightened" society could have permitted such unspeakable barbarities: The majority has no monopoly on truth, nor guarantee of infallibility.

As Pope John Paul once wrote: "Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crime if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimized by popular consensus"? (Evangelium Vitae 70)".

Williams tells us about St. Thomas Moore. Moore was chancellor of England from 1529 to 1532 and:
"was beheaded by his "good friend" King Henry VIII for refusing to take an oath recognizing Henry as head of the church in England. For Moore it was a question of conscience. Though he was afraid of dying, Thomas Moore couldn't bring himself to swear to something he knew not to be true."

Thomas Moore is the patron saint of lawyers and statesmen. Williams continues:
"He provides a moving example of fidelity to truth and God's allegiance to God's law over human pressures, even at the cost of one's own life. How much better the world would be today if we had more politicians of this integrity and moral caliber, truer to their moral convictions than to volatile popular opinion."

There are some politicians in Canada who have brought forward and/or supported--bills that would protect the unborn and their mothers. These brave men and women have stood by their moral convictions regarding the unborn.

Yet each time these bills are introduced, they are defeated because of lack of support from other MPs.

We need to remind all our political leaders what we expect them to do. That we want them to support bills that would provide legal protection for our unborn children and for their mothers.

We should remind them that by not providing this legal protection--is not a morally neutral position.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Canadians demonstrate civic rights to speak for pre-born citizens

 (This article appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of LifeCanada News)

This year's March for Life signals a turning point for the pro-life movement. I believe a shift has occurred.

The first notable occurrence was the increase in media reporting of the event this year.

Two years ago when I attended my first march, there was little mainstream media reporting.

In a letter I wrote to the Ottawa Citizen at the time, I commented on the irony that the Parliamentary pro-life Caucus's press conference--entitled "pro-life free speech suppressed in Canada"--was not covered by the press.

This year the mainstream print media, like the Toronto Sun, Vancouver Sun, National Post (even writing an editorial), Global and CTV, all covered the March. But even more remarkable, was that the more left leaning media like the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the CBC covered the march as well. The earth shifted a fraction of an inch.

The second subtle shift was when Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson weighed in with his declaration of ‘Respect for Life Day’. What is doubly notable about Mr. Watson's statement is that, a) even though the proclamation has occurred annually since 2002, it actually became a news item this year. And, b) it was from a mayor who publicly states he is pro-choice.

Mr. Watson said “The rights of the people of Canada including the unborn, the elderly and those with handicaps are gradually being eroded,” that “the community needs to get involved to ensure the rights of all people are respected and upheld.”

When a politician who is pro-choice, publicly states that the "rights of all people are respected and upheld", the shift is a unmistakeable. And it is newsworthy.

Third, a poll commissioned by Sun Media taken by Abacus Poll Inc (1) told us that:

  • 27% of Canadians believe that human life should be protected from the moment of conception, 21% believe human life should be protected after three months of pregnancy, 11% believe human life should be protected after six months of pregnancy
  • Only 45% of Canadians believed that legal abortions should be covered entirely by the public health care system. Another 22% felt that the public health care system should fund them only in extreme cases while 20% believed that they should be paid for by the patient. 
  • 52% of Canadians said they are not afraid of a public debate about abortion while 26% believe it is an issue that should be left alone.
No real surprises there. (except perhaps, the fact that only 26% of Canadians say they want to leave the abortion debate alone. Politicians keep telling us that nobody wants to debate abortion. This is clearly not the case.)

Poll after poll has told us this for years. It is the consistency of the responses over the years that is newsworthy.

Even though Mr. Harper has repeatedly said since he came to power that he will not reopen the abortion debate; even though University pro-life groups are shut down across the country; even though pro-choice people say the debate is closed--Canadians still tell us time in, and time out that yes, that they want legal protection for the unborn. They say yes, we should reconsider public funding for abortions. They say yes, we should have an abortion debate. That is newsworthy.

Fourth, MPs continue to speak out in support of the unborn.

Even though few MPs were in Ottawa for the March (we had just had an election and MPs were still in their ridings with Parliament not resuming until early June), we still saw four pro-life MPs on the Hill (Scott Reid, Royal Galipeau, Stephen Woodworth and David Sweet).

And former MP Pat O'Brien told us that "Although the prime minister has said he's not interested in opening the debate, well newsflash prime minister, the debate is on. These people say so".

Last year Rod Bruinooge brought forward Roxanne's Law, and Brad Trost brought forward a petition to defund Planned Parenthood.

Pro-life MPs consistently and with conviction, stand up for the unborn, over and over again.

Finally, Father Tom Lynch, of Priests for Life Canada told us that "with every new Parliament, with every new government, we have a moral duty and we have a civic right to be able to express our opinion to be able to achieve changes in public policy."

Then we looked out the window, into downtown Ottawa, and what did we see?

We saw thousands and thousands of Canadians, marching just like they did in previous years, with their ranks swelling each time they set out. These Canadians obviously feel they had a "moral duty" and a "civic right" to stand up for the unborn.

It's time for restrictions on abortion to become real. It's time for a strong pro-life MP to again take a principled stand, like many have done before.

Canadians may finally be ready for a law that would place some restrictions on abortion. Perhaps a law that would ban late-term abortions. Or maybe a law that would defund abortions.

The shift has begun and it is newsworthy.