As originally published in Faith Today, May/June 2011
Being pro-life does not require being or becoming Christian – or embracing some other life-affirming religion. It simply requires understanding that if a life is human after birth, it must be human before as well. It also means respecting that all human life is valuable – from conception to the deathbed and every stage in between.
The Prime Minister and the other major party leaders stated when campaigning for their jobs that they would not encourage Parliamentary debate on limiting abortion or recognizing the rights of the unborn.
However the Supreme Court of Canada, in its 1988 decision in R. v. Morgentaler, says that Parliament is the right place for the debate. And, in addition to the party leaders, there are 304 other Members of Parliament and 105 Senators who may bring that debate into Parliament. The debate has already been taking place in the media and the public square for years – bringing it into Parliament would be the way to seek resolution.
Despite the popular mythology in Canada, neither Parliament nor the Supreme Court has ever declared that there is a right to abortion. The Court’s decision in R. v. Morgentaler declared the pre-1988 law unconstitutional because its complexity prevented equal application across the nation. There was a law proposed in Parliament that passed the House of Commons and then faced a tie vote in the Senate on its third and final reading before it was to become law. Parliamentary practice resulted in the Speaker of the Senate voting against the bill. After passing three votes in the House of Commons and two in the Senate, Bill C-43 died on an uncanny 43-43 tie vote on January 31, 1991, three years and three days after the Supreme Court struck down the old law.
Despite the word on the street, it is legal in Canada to abort a child right up until the moment of live birth – nine months less a breath. A November 2008 Environics poll reveals that 6 in 10 Canadians think nine months is too long. And two-thirds of us think women considering an abortion should have the potential consequences better explained before the procedure.
Why march for life? Human lives are being destroyed – over 100,000 a year in the womb and as many of the mothers and fathers again who are left to struggle with the decision made, the life lost and the recognized medical consequences of the increased risk of depression and suicide.
Whether the National March for Life that begins on Parliament Hill (this year on Thursday, May 12 at noon) or one of the regional marches, the event is open to all who would send a signal through peaceful assembly. If you can’t make a march – even if you can – why not write a respectful letter stating your position to your Member of Parliament and/or Senator? The postage is free. The message is priceless.