Rumors and rhetoric are swirling after the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft decision in a challenge to the iconic Roe v. Wade case which legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973. It appears that a majority decision may be coming to overturn that law and significantly impact abortion laws in the United States. Despite our vastly different cultural and legal climate, this impact has also been felt in Canadian conversations.
This is an opportunity to talk about abortion, about how the Canadian status quo of having no legal restrictions on abortion is dramatically out of line with Canadians’ opinions, and about our need for an abortion law.
Crucially, in Canada there is no legal “right” to abortion – there is simply an absence of laws restricting abortion. Canada is the only democratic country with no abortion law. We are extremists when it comes to our lack of protection of pre-born children.
And yet, politicians and activists can quicky stir up fear and division by simply suggesting that an American court decision could impact Canadian access to abortion. This is in part due to the silence of pro-life politicians: while pro-abortion politicians rush to their microphones and social media platforms, pro-life politicians hunker down to quietly wait out the storm.
Here is where we are at with Canadian abortion politics this week:
- The Bloc Quebecois put forward a motion to support abortion, asking for unanimous consent in the House of Commons. Thankfully there were a few “no’s,” meaning the motion died. There was no recorded vote.
- Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted: “Every woman in Canada has a right to a safe and legal abortion.” He also promised again to promote this so-called “women’s right” in Canada and internationally.
- The Conservative party sent out a memo asking their MPs not to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Meanwhile, interim leader Candice Bergen trots out the tired line that she will not “reopen the abortion debate.”
- Several of the Conservative party leadership candidates continue to make their stance on the issue known, with Dr. Leslyn Lewis continuing to promote specific pro-life policies while candidates Patrick Brown & John Charest declared their support of abortion.
Those who support abortion speak the loudest, while those who oppose abortion sometimes seem embarrassed by their position and try to shut a box that is jammed open. The abortion debate is happening in Canada. Not talking about isn’t an option. Everyone needs to decide how to talk about it.
Abortion is going to be in the news for a few days. Next week, the Marches for Life will continue this momentum. Let’s make sure that pro-abortion voices aren’t the only ones heard. Write a letter to the editor for your local paper expressing your support for a sex selective abortion law or explaining that Canada has no abortion law. Consider raising this topic with your neighbours and asking them if they know Canada has no abortion laws. This is also a great time to contact your MP. Encourage them to promote specific pro-life policies, not their personal opinions.
Turning the abortion debate into a heated argument benefits no one. This Supreme Court leak in the U.S. has highlighted again the deep, visceral reaction people have when access to abortion is threatened. Our voice for life needs to be as strong and confident as the voices for death. We need to continue to pray for and encourage pro-life leaders, and continue to calmly put forward specific, common sense policies that benefit some pre-born children while we continue working to protect them all.