by Jonathon Van Maren
Canada’s abortion debate is raging again, spurred on by not only Justin Trudeau’s declarations of pro-choice totalitarianism in the federal Liberal Party, but also by his provincial party parrot in New Brunswick. Liberal leader Brian Gallant has picked up on Trudeau’s no-choice-but-pro-choice party line, announcing that, “We have committed, if we form government, that we’ll ensure that we swiftly act to find all barriers and eliminate them to ensure we’re respecting a woman’s right to reproductive choice.” Barriers which include inconveniently pro-life politicians who might be lurking within his party: “Any candidate that will respect that position and that will support that position can run for us,” Gallant assured the citizens of New Brunswick.
It’s an interesting political move. A LifeCanada poll several years ago found that 73% of Atlantic Canadians disagree with funding abortion on demand, with 20% supporting it and 7% undecided. That said, if the current polls are accurate, the Liberal Party is set to win a landslide victory on September 22. There is a combination of factors, of course—generations of Liberal voters and a wildly unpopular Tory premier, just to name two. People’s views on abortion, at least according to the polls, don’t necessarily change their voting behavior. The pro-life movement has a lot of work to do to make abortion an issue at the voting booth.
New Brunswick is one of the last places in Canada where any restrictions on abortion exist at all. For an abortion to be funded by the government, regulations stipulate that two doctors must claim that the abortion is “medically necessary.” This, Canada’s extremist pro-abortion vanguard says, is a draconian restriction that could result in women dying in back alleys.
I say “pro-abortion” for a very good reason. Restrictions have existed in the Maritimes for decades now, and there is not a shred of evidence that anyone has died in a back alley. In fact, in Prince Edward Island the abortion rate is reportedly less than half the national average, with just under ten abortions for every 100 live births rather than the average of 25 abortions in the rest of the country. The response of so-called reproductive rights activists has been to say that this is the result of women not having access to enough abortion information—stating in essence that the low abortion rate is a problem to be remedied. Gone is the “safe, legal, and rare” rhetoric of feminists such as Hillary Clinton and Naomi Wolf. Canada’s pro-abortion activists look at a low abortion rate with none of the apocalyptic consequences they threaten, and still see a problem.
Abortion activists know their hysterics are nonsense. Dr. Alan Guttmacher, who served as the president of Planned Parenthood, noted that, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through any pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong much less save a life.” That was in 1967. We’ve come a long way in scientific fields like embryology since last century. Abortion is the violent termination of a developing human being. That’s not “medicine.” That’s “barbarism.”
Unfortunately for pro-lifers, the success of the minimal regulations in lowering the abortion rate in Atlantic Canada is not a success that the Tories seem to want to champion, as revealed by the deafening silence on this issue from New Brunswick’s ill-fated Premier David Alward. The abortion extremists have in some areas successfully hijacked the national discussion on abortion while the spines of Tory politicians wilt like a pro-choice placard on a rainy day. Hard work has to be done to ensure that more reasonable voices prevail.
Jonathon Van Maren is the communication director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.