Canadians and Americans have always had a good relationship and our friendship has given us opportunity to learn from each other. One valuable lesson we have been taught from our southern neighbours is how to successfully enact social reform. We saw this in the 50’s and 60’s with the Civil Rights Movement and we are seeing it right now with the American pro-life movement.
A lot of focus has been on Texas these past few weeks, and rightly so. On July 12th Texas legislators passed a bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks gestation. Over 40 states have gestational laws restricting abortion! But the progress in Texas is only one of several recent developments regarding legislative initiatives designed to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible. In fact, in 2011 and 2012 alone there have been 135 separate laws that have been passed in various states! These laws ranging from parental notification and informed consent to banning abortions later in pregnancy are saving lives every day!
On the heels of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial (Gosnell was a late-term abortionist convicted of murdering babies after failed abortion procedures), the United States Congress passed a far-reaching bill which would restrict abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. It is unlikely the bill will become law as President Obama has vowed to veto it, but imagine the energy that could be created in Canada by our House of Commons debating a 20-week law! We pray for the day.
In addition to the above, the state of North Dakota is attempting to pass the most restrictive law among all the U.S. states – a ban on all abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected (at approximately 6 weeks gestation).
Of all the pieces of pro-life legislation introduced every year in the U.S. the three mentioned above have enabled the movement to take the largest strides. And what is the common denominator in each of them? You guessed it: restricting abortion to the greatest extent possible!
All of them are restrictive laws designed to ban abortion after a specific gestational age. And lest you are quick to denounce this as a flawed strategy, or (as some have accused) a recipe for apathy, suggesting we will all go home with only one victory under our belts, consider this story out of Texas. Mere hours after Texas governor Rick Perry signed his state’s new 20 week bill into law, three lawmakers filed a “fetal heartbeat bill” that, if passed, would restrict abortion after 6 weeks. That is how politics works! That is how we save as many pre-born babies as possible in the political realm!
Our American friends are showing us how it is done and well-known activists are at the forefront of support. On July 12th (the day the Texas 20 week law passed) Check out what Lila Rose of Live Action tweeted:
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) July 12, 2013
Not to be outdone, Abby Johnson (Planned Parenthood Director turned pro-life advocate) posted this message on her Twitter feed:
History has been made!!!!! Proud to be a Texan!!! #Stand4Life
— Abby Johnson (@AbbyJohnson) July 13, 2013
Gestational laws also receive widespread support from religious leaders, both in Canada and the United States. Fr. Frank Pavone (National Director of Priests for Life) issued a statement immediately following the passage of Texas’ law saying:
“The new law Governor Perry signs today will advance the protection of women from the unscrupulous practices of abortionists, and the protection of children from the deadly weapons of those same abortionists.”
Fr. Pavone went on to say:
“We at Priests for Life will continue to expose the horrors committed by Texas abortionists like Douglas Karpen. This law will make that task much easier.”
It doesn’t sound like he is ready to call it a day, does it?
Meanwhile here in Canada, in referencing WeNeedaLAW.ca, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller had this to say:
“Canada does need a law, and this initiative is a helpful first step toward correcting an unacceptable legislative void that is unique among democratic nations. I encourage Canadians to support it and pray for its success.”
Gestational legislation, either proposed or already passed into law, provides incredible victories. That said, they are not an end, but rather a stepping-stone to further success. We apply the same strategy for every other issue that is being tackled via the law, from restrictions on smoking and drinking and driving to increasing the age of consent. Pro-family advocates rejoiced when the age of consent was raised from 14 to 16. It is not going to protect all children, but it will help protect some!
It is time to accept and celebrate the effectiveness of the strategies we witness south of the line – they are saving lives! To echo the words of Archbishop Miller, “Legislation intended to restrict access to abortion would not create a new legal situation in Canada which would authorize abortions, but instead would intend to limit the number of abortions already authorized under the law. Moreover, such legislation intends to limit the harm done to public morality by the injustice already present in the de facto legal situation.”
We have a long journey ahead of us and it begins by taking a first step. When the time comes to support our own “Rick Perry” we need to embrace that as a step in the right direction, moving us away from the pathetic status quo as the only democracy with no abortion laws.
As we move forward, we must not put our time, energy, and finances towards what is not possible at the expense of what is possible. God requires of us to be faithful in the context he puts us, and to prudently consider the limitations and obstacles we have.
Canada is ripe for an abortion law. Over 75 per cent of us want a law that protects children at some point before they’re born. The pro-life movement needs a political victory, and momentum is building whereby the first one is within reach!
*Note – For more information about why a gestational law is both moral and prudent click here.