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Canada should ban late-term abortions

Canada should ban late-term abortions

National Post logo

 

National Post – Full Comment article by Mike Schouten

 

(It should be noted that due to length the National Post editors did take out portions of the article that was sent in. The full submission is pasted below)

Canada is the only country in the Western world with no legal protection for pre-born children. This puts us in the company of only two other countries worldwide: North Korea and China.

According to a June 2012 survey commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV, 60% of Canadians would like to see abortion restricted to the first and second trimester. In 2011, Abacus Data polls found that 60% of Canadians believed that the life of the unborn should be protected at some point during the pregnancy. Similarly, a 2011 poll by Environics asked participants when they thought abortion should be illegal and 77% answered, “in the last three months” of pregnancy.

If any other special interest group had numbers that were consistently this strong, policy change would surely have occurred by now. Why has there been no progress in achieving legal protection for pre-born children in over 24 years?

There are probably several contributing factors. But a significant one has to be the pro-life community’s own reluctance to pursue prudent legislative initiatives that would begin to limit the harm of abortion, and move us away from the status quo of unfettered access to abortion up to the moment of birth.

The problem is not a lack of passion or conviction. It’s a lack of understanding of two important realities: 1) politics requires prudence; and 2) gestational limits save lives.

Politics, by its very nature, involves doing only what is possible. While pro-lifers would love to see “the perfect law,” such a thing is rarely (if ever) created in any policy area. In Canada’s pluralistic democracy, citizens have vastly divergent world views, making prudence necessary when crafting a legislative change. This applies particularly to abortion, since not all voters share the same convictions about when human life begins or the intrinsic value of that life.

Currently abortion is legal in Canada through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason or no reason. This can be improved, but only when there is a willingness among pro-lifers to accept legislation that limits some (late-term), but not all (before 20 weeks), abortions. Doing so would not be a sacrificing of principles. On the contrary, achieving any added degree of legal protection for pre-born children should be every pro-lifer’s goal.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information statistics indicate that of all the reports of abortions in Canada in 2010, only 22% included the gestational age of the fetus at the time of abortion. Even with such a small percentage reported, there were 537 abortions in Canada after 21 weeks gestation. Assuming we can project that ratio onto the 78% of abortions that did not record gestational ages, there may have been over 1,900 abortions after 21 weeks. The Canadian Medical Association has set viability outside the womb at 20 weeks gestation.

A late-term abortion law would bring Canada a little closer to its international counterparts in its protection of the youngest members of society. Such a law would reflect the views of a majority in our country, and it would save lives.

National Post

Mike Schouten is campaign director of WeNeedaLAW.ca, a campaign to build grassroots support for federal abortion legislation.

 


 

(unedited version)

Canada is the only country in the Western world with no legal protection for pre-born children. This puts us in the company of only two others: North Korea and China.

According to a June 2012 survey commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV, 60% of Canadians would like to see abortion restricted to the first and second trimester.

That a majority of Canadians are unsettled by this reality is not a new phenomenon. In 2011, Abacus Data polls found that 60% of Canadians believe that the life of the unborn should be protected at some point during the pregnancy. Similarly, a 2011 poll by Environics asked participants when they thought abortion should be illegal and 77% answered, “in the last three months”.

If any other special interest group had numbers that were consistently this strong, policy change would surely have occurred by now. Why has there been no progress in achieving legal protection for pre-born children in over 24 years?

There are probably several contributing factors. But a significant one has to be the pro-life community’s own reluctance to pursue prudent legislative initiatives that would begin to limit the harm of abortion and move us away from the pathetic status quo of unfettered access to abortion up to the moment of birth. Many pro-lifers have been working to change Canada’s law since before I was even born, and yet we still have no legislation to protect preborn children in this country.

That so little has been accomplished in the past twenty-five years (and I’m speaking strictly of legislative advances) is not due to a lack of passion and conviction. Rather, it’s because of a lack of understanding of two important realities: 1. That politics requires prudence; and 2. that gestational limits save lives.

Politics, by its very nature, involves doing only what is possible. While pro-lifers would love to see “the perfect law,” that rarely, if ever has been achieved in any area of law. In Canada’s political climate, options for abortion laws are limited and proper judgement is required in which certain obstacles and limitations need to be considered. Prudence then, is a necessary ingredient when dealing with a representative democracy in a pluralistic society where citizens have vastly divergent worldviews and where not all share the same convictions about the intrinsic value of all human beings.

Abortion is legal in Canada through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason or no reason. This can certainly be improved; progress can be made but only when there is a willingness to accept “something” when “all” is not achievable. The current political landscape dictates that “something” is most acceptable by the most people. It’s time for Canadians (including pro-life Canadians) to pursue that. In doing so, there is no sacrificing of principles. On the contrary, one would think that to work toward legal protection for pre-born children should be every pro-lifers goal.

Regarding a gestational law, there is a misunderstanding among some in the pro-life community that a late-term abortion ban would implicitly authorize abortions prior to the threshold implemented (i.e. a ban after 20 weeks). It needs to be understood that when there is no law to prohibit an activity, that activity is fully permitted. Whereas Canada permits abortions through all 40 weeks of the pregnancy, what is lacking is a restrictive abortion law that a majority of Canadians would support. A late-term abortion law would be a huge improvement on the current situation; it would offer legal protection to some pre-born children where they have none today. To be clear, the pursuit of a law to protect pre-born children in the latter stages of pregnancy does not mean pro-lifers don’t want to protect all pre-born children; it simply means they cannot, due to current social, legal, and political obstacles beyond their control.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information statistics indicate that of all the abortions reported in Canada in 2010, only 22% of them included the gestational age of the fetus at the time of abortion. Even with such a small percentage reported, there were 537 abortions in Canada after 21 weeks gestation. Assuming we can project that ratio onto the 78% of abortions which did not record gestational ages, there may have been over 1,900 abortions after 21 weeks. This violates the “benchmark” set by the Canadian Medical Association who has set viability outside the womb at 20 weeks gestation.

A late-term abortion law would bring Canada a little closer to its international counterparts in its protection of its youngest members of society. Such a law would be a reflection of the views of a majority in our country and it would save lives.

Canada needs federal abortion legislation.

 

Mike Schouten

Campaign Director, WeNeedaLAW.ca

(WeNeedaLAW.ca is a campaign to build grassroots support for federal abortion legislation)

 

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