The gift that keeps on giving

13/06/2014 / Abortion 

It is the gift that keeps on giving. In what has become a recurring theme, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau continues to spark debate on abortion.

Trudeau’s most recent statements, given at a press conference this week, drip with irony. Trudeau repeated his recent declaration that the Liberal Party would only accept pro-choice candidates. He then went on to state that the current Parliament should not pass abortion legislation because, “It is not for a room full of predominantly male legislators to take away those rights from women.”

The bizarre statement could be interpreted in a variety of ways, none of which should come from someone in Trudeau’s position of leadership. For example, is the Liberal leader suggesting that if we elect more female legislators, then Canadians can expect abortion bills to begin flowing through Parliament? Or, what about other areas of law, like prostitution? Can a “room full of predominantly male legislators” decide to protect vulnerable female sex-workers?

If Trudeau truly believes that males are only qualified to enact laws that govern men then what about the Supreme Court of Canada? Canada is a common law country, meaning that our judges make law as much as our Members of Parliament do. If we adopted Mr. Trudeau’s logic, then we ought to reverse the 1988 Supreme Court decision which struck down the abortion law at the time. After all, six of the seven justices on the bench were men.

Statements such as this one are silly. Fortunately, Canadians see through the rhetoric. A national poll released today shows that 7 out of 10 people think Trudeau is wrong for barring pro-life candidates to run for the Liberal Party. It is probably not the first time someone who aspires to be the Prime Minister of Canada insults the very people he wants to lead but, by engaging in gender politics, Trudeau is lowering the quality of discourse surrounding a very important and sensitive public policy issue.

Canada’s lack of any abortion law allows for abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy. This reality, which we only share with China and North Korea, does not sit well with Canadians. The duty of elected lawmakers is to pass legislation that protects all members of the human family.

It is a positive development that the conversation is beginning to be focused. Are Canadians comfortable with late-term abortion when the fetus can feel pain? What about abortion past the point of viability? Yes, in some hospitals babies born prematurely are cared and nurtured for, while down the hall a fetus at the same gestational age is being aborted. What about sex-selective abortion? Public support is as high as 92% for laws prohibiting abortion on the basis of gender. It’s time our policy reflects this.

Abortion laws are not about taking away rights from women. Rather, they are about protecting children and balancing their rights with the rights of the mother. It is time the Liberal leader recognizes this fact. He ought to refrain from sensational rhetoric and engage this issue in a meaningful way.

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