Recently the Charlottetown Guardian published two articles to which the PEI Right to Life Association must make comment. The articles are “Thirty Years after Morgentaler ruling, we have a long way to go as a country.” Dec 20, 2017 and “Islander Kate McKenna writes book about PEI’s abortion history.” Jan 5th, 2018. What is evident from these two pieces is that the issue of the struggle between pro-choice or pro-life, pro-abortion or anti-abortion, woman or baby, regardless of how one describes it, is long from being over! For the pro-life movement on PEI this is inspiring and motivates us to continue fighting for full legal protection of the right to life of the pre-born child from conception on.
Ms. McKenna has written a history of the Island pro-choice movement and the article describes this book as “a great story of perseverance and bravery”. The majority of Canadians would not describe this piece of history as a great story. 60% of Canadians believe that “human life should be protected sometime prior to birth, including one in four who say it should be protected from conception on.” (Canadian’s Attitudes towards Abortion, Life Canada Poll, 2013, Environics Research Group) Nor is it brave to seek access to ending the life of a baby whose heart is already beats at 3 weeks gestation and whose brain waves are readable at only 2 months gestation. Herein, the viewpoints of pro-abortion advocates and pro-lifers on the history of abortion on PEI differ drastically.
If there is any agreement between pro-abortion and pro-life supporters it is in the agreement that someone's life is at stake. For the pro-choicers only the mother is the focus, for pro-lifers it is both the baby – the most vulnerable one - AND the mother. All know it is an issue of woman facing a crisis pregnancy, it is an issue of deeply held moral beliefs, it is an issue concerning the science of embryology and more over, it is always a deeply personal issue. No one walks away unaffected. McKenna’s book will certainly be revealing.
What this story is not, is one of a woman’s right to abortion. Neither the Canadian Charter of Rights nor the R vs Morgentaler decision inscribes such a right to Canadian citizens. Not even in the United Nations Universal Declarations of Human Rights is abortion considered a right. The great debates of the 1970’s and 80’s leading up to the repatriation of the Canadian Charter of Rights indicate that there was grave concern from many Canadians that the ambiguous Charter wording in S.7 and 15 would lead to a push for abortion on demand throughout the nine months and that the citizens of Canada should pay for this via the Canada Health system. Many presaged that the elected members of Parliament would have to bend to the interpretation of the law by appointed judges of the Supreme court. More specifically, bow down to the majority vote of these judges; to just five non-elected judges. Warnings were emphatically spoken by MP’s, religious leaders, academics, lawyers and lay people of the pro-life movement. The legal, ethical, religious and medical concerns were, however, ignored; PM Pierre Trudeau brought home the constitution and not long after, on January 28, 1988, the Supreme Court ruling of R vs Morgentaler struck down previous restrictions and since then, appallingly so, government has provided no law. It is a dubious honour we hold. As the article on Morgentaler states: “The Supreme Court’s watershed decision made Canada one of a handful of countries without a law either restricting or ensuring access to abortion.” Canada is on the same level with North Korea, China and Vietnam.
Morgentaler arrogantly and conceitedly boasts in his Memoires: “Imagine, single-handedly almost, I abolished a restrictive, cruel, barbarous law which caused so much suffering to women across Canada.” (http://www.morgentaler25years.ca/the-struggle-for-abortion-rights/1988-decision. Accessed on Jan 17, 2018.) Thirty years of death for 4 million pre-born Canadians is the reality of what this decision has brought to Canada. For whom was this situation actually restrictive, cruel and barbaric? For the woman whose free choice was to engage in an act that we all know leads to the conception of life; for the woman whose choice was based on the lie that contraception is 100% reliable; for the woman whose choice was taken from them in a violent act of sexual assault or was this situation barbaric – to use Morgentaler’s word – foremost for the vulnerable and innocent child in the womb, torn apart by the abortionist’s instrument in a surgical abortion, burned by chemical infusions and born dead as in a late term abortion, or starved by hormonal suppression via medical induced abortion? Has in the past 30 years this changed for the child in the womb?
A point of clarity must be stated here. This battle is not primarily about the legality or illegality of abortion. Any death of a child via allegedly legal and safe abortion or illegal and dangerous “back-ally” abortions is unacceptable. Both should never be tolerated. Violence against the woman and the child in the womb in every form must be repudiated. What is more disturbing about 30 years of “celebrating a story for abortion or a man who boasts responsibility for over 5000 deaths (cf. Henry Morgentaler, Abortion and Contraception, Toronto: General Publishing, 1982) is the fact that our society is seemingly so devoid of creativity that this is the primary solution of pro-choice advocates for women facing a crisis pregnancy. Have we nothing better to offer Canadian women and Canadian children than death? Death of the innocent one accepted a result of an exaggerated understanding of individual freedom or as the answer to sexual assault?
This is the most disturbing fact of these two pieces that the society we are is one of radical pursuit of self over others. This is not good, great or brave and it is utmost cowardly to condone it. Women deserve better. Canadians deserve better.