What type of law are you talking about?
In our parliamentary system a bill would come from either an MP or a Senator. Currently there is no abortion-related bill before Parliament and until one is introduced we don’t know the specifics of it. That said, due to the absence of any law protecting pre-born children in Canada, we would support a law restricting abortion to the greatest extent possible.
We believe there are three laws that could be passed in the next 3-8 years that would move us in the right direction and advance pre-born human rights. The first is a late-term abortion law that would protect pre-born children in the latter stages of pregnancy; the second is a law prohibiting sex-selective abortions; the third is a law that would protect pre-born victims crime.
It’s important to remember that we would not support a law that would introduce a new injustice, but only one that would limit the injustice that is already occurring. A law we could support then, is one that would limit abortion to a certain gestational age, thereby restricting the existing injustice and saving hundreds if not thousands of babies per year.
Wouldn’t a law prohibiting abortions after a certain number of weeks arbitrarily divide humans into “protected” and “unprotected” classes?
The continuum of human life begins at fertilization and ends at natural death. Currently under Canadian law only ‘born’ humans have protection, so our law today already divides humans into “protected” and “unprotected” classes. If the law was changed to reflect increased protection by extending it to ‘pre-born’ humans from 20 weeks to birth then fewer babies would fall under the unprotected class, thus limiting the injustice of abortion. We certainly do and would support any initiative that would move more humans into the “protected” class.
Would placing a gestational limit on abortions not codify into law the permission to abort certain pre-born children that were not included in the new “protected” class?
As a result of the 1988 Morgentaler decision abortions are already permitted in Canada for the entire nine months of pregnancy. According to the general principles of law, when there is no law to prohibit an activity, that activity is permitted. A gestational law would not change the legal permissibility of abortions prior to the limit set – they are already permissible. Rather, a gestational law would prohibit abortions after the limit and thus permit less than occur today.
John Finnis, “Restricting legalised abortion is not intrinsically unjust,” an article which appears in the book: “Cooperation, Complicity, & Conscience” – page 227.
I don’t think a late-term abortion law would prevent any abortions because abortionists would simply lie about the age of the pre-born child. And, aren’t late-term abortion so rare anyway?
Abortionists may employ deceptive techniques to find ways around such a law, but we can’t be so presumptuous as to use this as a reason not to enact legislation. We don’t abolish laws just because we can’t guarantee they will always be successful in preventing certain actions from taking place.
A late-term abortion law would in fact be a major deterrent, as abortionists who lied about the age of the pre-born child and committed illegal abortions would risk fines and/or a prison sentence that would most likely be associated with such a piece of legislation.
We have to be careful in dismissing laws just because they are more difficult to prosecute or the crimes they address are rarely committed. If it becomes problematic to prosecute certain crimes we don’t decriminalize them! We work doubly hard to find ways to ensure they are prosecuted! As for rarely committed crimes, think of child labour laws. Imagine the outcry if there were a move to de-criminalize the practice of child labour simply because it rarely occurred? Regarding late-term abortions, the fact is they are common in Canada. 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 20 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 20 weeks!
Would a late-term abortion law be seen as compromising on the principle that life begins at fertilization?
The definition of a compromise is “a mutual concession to reach an agreement”. Therefore, if you don’t make a concession, no compromise is involved. Since Canada has no laws protecting pre-born children we wouldn’t be conceding anything. As we don’t have the power to enact laws that save them all, we’re trying to gain the most ground in the face of overwhelming obstacles beyond our control.
Working towards the goal of saving all pre-born children, but only being able to save some is not a compromise.
We can use analogies to help understand why saving some is not compromising the principle that every life is valuable. Imagine you are at the lake and witness a pleasure boat sinking. Upon seeing the crisis develop, you jump into your small inflatable dingy and paddle as fast as you can to the scene. When you arrive you see eight people without life preservers desperately trying to stay afloat.. Their boat is nowhere to be seen. Your dingy is much too small for everyone but you begin helping them from the water. You manage to fit three of the eight people in your small dingy and begin the journey to shore. When they are safely in the arms of onlookers you race back to get some more. Unfortunately they couldn’t swim and have disappeared to the depths of the lake. In the shock of what transpired you remind yourself that you did everything you could and saved as many as possible. You wanted to save them all, but considering the resources you had available (a small boat), you did what you could.
In Canada today, we have opportunity to save some pre-born children. Does this mean we don’t value the lives of all of them? Absolutely not! But, we must work within the existing means, considering the current social, political and legal framework, to do what we can right now, while continuing to advocate for further protections for children in the womb.