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A Step in the Right Direction

March 28, 2012

The following article appears in the most recent edition of The Carillon News, a local weekly newspaper:

“Think Again”
Michael Zwaagstra

Status quo on abortion not acceptable

Canada is one of only four countries in the world with no law restricting abortion (the other three being China, Vietnam, and North Korea).

This legal vacuum came about as a result of a unique set of circumstances. In 1988 the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s existing abortion law on the grounds its procedural requirements were manifestly unfair. Contrary to popular myth, the Supreme Court did not rule that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees abortion rights. In fact, the court even invited Parliament to draft a new abortion law.

The Mulroney government proceeded to do so and introduced a bill that would have banned abortion except when a doctor determined the mother’s life or health was threatened. While it received approval in the House of Commons, it was defeated on a tie vote in the Senate. Since that time, no federal government has chosen to tackle this issue.

Although many abortion rights supporters claim Canadians have arrived at a pro-choice consensus, the reality is considerably different. In a 2010 Angus-Reid survey, only one-fifth of Canadians were even aware that abortion is completely unregulated in this country. Other surveys indicate most Canadians believe some restrictions on abortion should be in place.

For example, two Angus-Reid surveys conducted in 2010 reveal more than half of Canadians believe girls under the age of 18 should not be able to get an abortion without parental consent. A 2008 poll by Environics showed almost two-thirds of Canadians would support informed consent laws requiring doctors to provide women with information about fetal development (i.e. ultrasounds) before performing an abortion. In a 2011 Environics poll, 92 percent of Canadians stated the selective abortion of female fetuses should be illegal.

It’s not difficult to see shy most Canadians are uncomfortable with an extreme pro-choice position that assigns no rights to the fetus. The science of embryology makes it clear the fetus is more than a blob of tissue as it develops a heartbeat and brainwaves remarkably  early in the pregnancy. It is illogical to recognize a newborn baby as a full-fledged person and simultaneously deny personhood status to an equally developed nine-month-old fetus.

Interestingly, some pro-choice advocates recognize the lack of distinction between born and unborn babies and support the right of parents to kill babies even after birth. A recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics by Drs. Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argues parents should be allowed to conduct “post-birth abortions.” In other words, they call for the legalization of infanticide.

Although Giubilini and Minerva acknowledge fetuses and newborn babies are human being, they deny this gives them an inherent right to life. “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing to someone a right to life,” argue these doctors. In their view, all babies, born and unborn, are merely potential persons because they lack self-awareness.

Fortunately, most pro-choice advocates distance themselves from the extreme views of doctors like Giubilini and Minerva. However, the fact Giubilini and Minerva are able to use many of the standard pro-choice arguments to support infanticide should give us pause for concern.

Some lawmakers are looking to introduce some legal rights for the unborn in this country. Stephen Woodworth, a Conservative MP from Ontario, recently introduced a motion in the House of Commons to legally define fetuses as human beings. It will be debated some time in April.

The status quo on abortion in this country is unacceptable. At a minimum, we need to recognize that unborn children need some legal protections. Accepting Woodworth’s motion would be a first good step.

I agree Michael.

Jesus, I plead your blood over my sins and the sins of my nation.  God, end abortion and send revival to Canada!

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