I’ll be the first to admit that for someone who has lived in Ottawa for four years, attending classes mere minutes away from Parliament Hill, I know very little, and to be perfectly honest, care very little about most of the political process. I vote more out of a sense of obligation toward the strong women of the suffragette movement than anything else, and that’s about it. However, I would really have to have my head in the sand not to have heard about the recent increase in interest in the abortion debate. I don’t really know what the G8 Summit is and only just realized it was happening in my own country this past week; yet, I can’t help but feel grateful for its unexpected side effect. It seems Prime Minister Harper’s has proposed plan of action to combat maternal health tragedies in developing countries which is wonderful and important. Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff’s appears to have pushed for the incorporation of access to abortion in this commendable initiative, and the Prime Minister said no. However, the discussions didn’t end there and the proposal and its opposition have really stirred the pot on the abortion debate. It seems Mr. Ignatieff, in trying to insinuate abortion into a proposal in which it has no place, has achieved what pro-lifers have been trying to do for years with minimal success: bring the abortion debate back to the public’s attention.
Listlessly flipping through a bus station newspaper yesterday waiting for my 96 downtown, I came across no less than three articles concerning abortion. One of these actually showcased the situation of University of Calgary students who are facing expulsion for participating in a controversial pro-life display. I was shocked! I’ve participated in a national March for Life which (legally) shut down whole streets in the capital city and seen no mention of it in the paper the next day. This type of exposure over a debate which the powers that be would like us to believe is closed and old news only demonstrates that the exact opposite is true. Yes, most of the articles had to do with the pro-choice side, but they still hopefully made my fellow readers think about where they stand in the debate which we pro-lifers know never really ended, but which many people on the street would likely rather ignore. This is an opportunity for us to explain our well-reasoned positions on life issues. This could be the unexpected spark which ignites a change in the hearts of those like myself who know little about politics but instead vote according to my personal moral convictions. I challenge all pro-life men and women in this time of great potential to take the time to really consider why you are pro-life. We all have our own personal reasons which keep us anchored to an ideal which sometimes seems so counter-cultural, and being able to clearly articulate and express these reasons is how we will change hearts one person at a time. We can’t all be politicians creating laws to preserve the dignity of life, but we can all explain why we as individuals maintain and promote this ideal. I commend the work of brave pro-life politicians, but I truly feel that politics will not in the end be the solution. Society needs to change, and no laws will bring this about, but individuals having respectful, intelligent, and open conversations have the power to end abortion in this country.
There is a striking distinction to be made in recent political developments. The opposition parties are standing in full contrast against the government in regards to the funding of abortion in the G8 Maternal Health Package. The government, much to the relief of pro-lifers, is not backing down from its announced stance on rejecting funds for abortion in developing countries. These opposition parties are calling on the government to remain true to the “consensus” that has remained in Canada for 25 years. This “consensus” is supposedly pro-abortion, according to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
I don’t think I could be any clearer; never, in the last 25 years of politics in Canada, has there been a “consensus” on abortion, for or against. Never has there been legal ground to promote or demote abortion services in Canada. The House of Commons had passed a bill intending to offer some legal framing in regards to abortion services shortly after the R. V. Morgentaler decision, but this legislation died in a Senate tie vote, effectively promoting a free roam on abortion services, for anyone who wanted them, at any time. What does this mean for pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike? More importantly, what does it mean for women, and their unborn children? It means a woman can receive an abortion at ANY stage in her pregnancy, even the moment before birth. The unborn child has no recognized status in the eyes of the government until it has FULLY exited the woman’s body.
Even more striking, there is no legal framing to protect women who may be coerced into having an abortion by their family, their boyfriend, or significant other, their doctor, or any person of influence in their lives. The result has been effectively a battleground over the woman’s body for anyone who wants to take part. We as a society have been so keen to give women this right to abortion, that we have completely looked past any commitment to protect women from the implications that this brings on to them by people of influence in their lives. Pro-choice activists are vehemently against any attempt to protect women in these vulnerable situations. This can be great ground to build off of as pro-lifers in an attempt to care for the woman and her unborn child at the same time.
In recent news, Stephen Harper has been preparing for the G8 summit coming up in the Muskokas and has made improving maternal and infant health in developing countries one of the topics for discussion. As one of the millenium development goals set by the UN, maternal and infant health is an important topic that needs to be addressed. In response to Harper’s plan, Michael Ignatieff – liberal opposition leader – stated that abortion rights must be included in any Canadian plan to improve infant and maternal health in the developing world. This came as a shock to many in the connection Ignatieff made between maternal/infant health and abortion. As Bishop Henry states in the first article below, “I thought it was pathetic for a political leader to suggest that abortion is somehow tied to the health of women and children”.
In response to this statement from Ignatieff many religious leaders and journalists responded in opposition, most notably David Warren from the Ottawa Citizen. As stated below in his article Warren advocates that “Women do not give birth to cats” and that abortion can’t be considered anything but the slaughter of an innocent human beings. If maternal health is a concern, the method to deal with that health issue is not murder.
In Canada there exists no law about abortion. The supreme court struck down the abortion laws in 1988 (R. v. Morgantaler) to allow for the protection of mothers in extremely rare circumstances where their life is at risk. However, only 5% of abortions preformed today are conducted for that reason. The other 95% of those aborted have been performed against section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom which states, among other rights, that everyone has the right to life. If Ignatieff believes that we have been successful in improving maternal and infant care in Canada, abortion has not been one of the factors in this improvement. The issue of infant health will not be solved by ending their lives, but instead through public health improvements and better health care for pregnant women as proposed by Stephen Harper. As Warren puts it so well in his article “Killing a baby in no way improves its health”.
This past Friday, Ottawa Students for Life hosted Andrea Mrozek from the popular blog “Pro-Woman, Pro-Life” to come and speak to students on how the pro-life position and a pro-woman stance converge on many different levels. Andrea started by simply stating the fact that having an abortion is in no way more associated with a woman’s femininity than in her choice to carry a child to term. The importance Mrozek associated between a woman’s biological identities against the common feminist current clearly illustrated a contrast between what women are told to believe, and what they want to believe. Mrozek noted 5 key points to why being pro-woman is perfectly in sync with the pro-life stance.
This brings a sharp new reality when trying to interpret Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s statements on the “availability of a full range of reproductive products to women” incorporated into Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement on development of maternal health initiatives for the world’s poorest and most under-developed countries. Mr. Ignatieff seems to state, without any regard or respect towards the culture of life in many of these countries, that Canada has the right to take advantage of the frailty of some countries by imposing ideologically divisive ideals that aren’t even supported by a majority of people here at home, instead of supporting uniting collaborative action for the benefit of the entire society. This radical and extreme stance against life must be taken for what it’s worth, a shameless attempt to score political points off the lives of unborn children.
If you want to find out 5 reasons why being pro-life is being pro-woman, I encourage you to stay tuned for the video footage from Andrea’s talk that will appear on the blog soon.
I am writing in response to your call for Prime Minister Harper to include abortion as part of his maternal health initiative. I am a 22-year-old Canadian woman who would like to inform you that there is by no means a Canadian consensus in favour of abortion. It is scientifically indisputable that abortion is the act of terminating a human life. We should all be committed to improving conditions for women in Canada and around the world so that no mother is ever in such a desperate situation that she feels forced to abort her child.
The very year I was born, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down our country’s abortion law and Parliament has since failed to pass any bill at all on abortion. Abortion on demand became legal and funded by taxpayer dollars through the ninth month of pregnancy in Canada not because that is the will of all Canadians but rather because of political cowardice. According to a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll, only 20% of Canadians are aware of the current status-quo of abortion in Canada; when informed about existing regulations, only 30% endorsed them. This hardly amounts to a consensus.
Before you continue to campaign to export abortion, I would like to invite you to come hear what a politically engaged group of students has to say about including abortion as a component of women’s rights. This Friday, February 5, Ottawa Students for Life welcomes Andrea Mrozek, who will be speaking on the very topical subject of whether being pro-life is antithetical to being pro-woman. A question period will follow the talk. The event takes place at 7 p.m. in Lamoureux Hall, room 122. (see https://ottawastudents4life.wordpress.com/)
I look forward to receiving a response and hope to see you there.