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It is unfortunate that for numerous decades the abortion debate has been polarized to the extent that the quintessential Canadian response is, to avoid the discussion altogether. Diane Bederman is to be credited with courage as she seeks to find the middle ground in this often times hostile environment. Ms. Bederman’s response to Alan Borovoy was published in today’s National Post. She makes a case for the humanity of the pre-born child and distances herself from those who call the fetus a “mass of cells” and resort to silly word games in an attempt to obfuscate the debate. She goes so far as to say  that, “we are better as a society if we agree that all human life is sacred, that it has inherent value.”  It’s rather disturbing then, to read her conclusion that women should have a right to end the life of their pre-born child unhindered by legal restrictions imposed by the state; and we best address abortion through moral persuasion alone. This presents a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of government. Canada is a great place to live and the envy of many in the world because we have the rule of law and authorities that enforce it by determining what is right and wrong. The first mandate of government is to restrain immoral behaviour and carry this out by putting laws into effect.

The theme of this year’s National Pro-Life Conference was “Transforming our Culture” and was sponsored by LifeCanada and hosted by Alliance for Life Ontario. It was attended by nearly 300 people. This was the first national conference the campaign participated in. Throughout the three-day event there were innumerable references to the amount of youth joining the pro-life movement. I’m 36 years old and don’t consider myself young, but as those of you who have been attending these type of events for years can attest to, the grey hairs have certainly formed the majority...until now. As LifeCanada President, Monica Roddis referenced in her opening remarks, the pro-life movement has experienced a resurgence this past year due to the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’s “New Abortion Caravan” and also the launch of the campaign to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible. When you convince people that something works, and specifically young people, they get excited about the possibilities. No longer is there a reminiscing about how things used to be, or even a lamenting of where things are at presently. Rather, when victory is imminent, people get energized.

Around the country Canadians are taking part in an massive effort to bring awareness to Canada’s lack of abortion laws and the plight of 100,000 pre-born girls and boys each year. One of the most prominent and effective manners of getting this message...

John McKay is the Liberal member of Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood. He wrote this column for the National Post on Monday, October15th. It is republished here with his permission.   As MPs exited the House of Commons chamber after the crushing defeat of the motion to study Canada’s definition of a human being, I was struck by the sombre atmosphere. Usually MPs are quite chatty and boisterous after votes, as they head off to various receptions, meetings, etc.; not so that Wednesday night. It was as if someone had died. In fact, I said to a colleague it was like exiting a funeral. Conversation was muted. The shrillness that characterized the debate was silenced. The motion was really nothing more than a carefully worded and quite innocuous attempt to fill a legal void left by the Morgentaler decision. The Supreme Court had anticipated that its decision would unbalance the law and the various rights claims, and therefore specifically asked Parliament to respond. But the rhetoric over the motion was amped up so much that it became a litmus test for one’s position on abortion rather than a discussion on when life should be recognized in law. The presumption underlying civilized debate is that it be “civilized.” Harangues and mischaracterization of positions make civility almost impossible. I realize that this is the daily fare of our current Parliament, so I suppose one should not be surprised when Parliament proves itself to be incapable of rational decision making — even when handed an issue by the courts.

"Many who before regarded legislation on the subject as chimerical, will now fancy that it is only dangerous, or perhaps not more than difficult. And so in time it will come to be looked on as among the things possible, then among the things probable;–and so at last it will be ranged in the list of those few measures which the country requires as being absolutely needed. That is the way in which public opinion is made.” The quote above, taken from the novel Phineas Finn, encapsulates the Overton Window theory that an idea can transition from the unthinkable to even discuss, to acceptable, and eventually be transformed into public policy. In his 1868 novel, the author Anthony Trollope tackles contentious issues in British parliamentary politics such as the political viability of voter reform and the implementation of the secret ballot. It’s nearly one and a half centuries since Anthony Trollope wrote his novel, but his expressions of what is now known as the Overton Window theory can be aptly used to describe the process of social reform in Canada today. Think for example of same-sex marriage; it used to be considered unthinkable and now it’s public policy. In fact, in 1999 the federal government passed a resolution calling on Parliament to use all necessary measures to   defend traditional marriage. While this did provoke a de facto debate on the use of the “Notwithstanding Clause”, the resolution wasn’t enforced and only six short years later same-sex marriage became official public policy. For several decades, the abortion debate has been toxic. Efforts at discussing pre-born human rights were quickly suppressed and those who prompted these discussions were labeled as extremists. Using the Overton Window axis, abortion was in the ‘unthinkable’ category. Canadians didn’t engage on the issue and much less so Canadian parliamentarians. How often haven’t we heard it said: “If you want to commit political suicide just start talking about abortion”?

by Jonathon Van Maren While no one generally accuses Heather Mallick of anything resembling nuance, her most recent screed, which rails against Member of Parliament Mark Warawa’s recent motion to condemn sex-selective abortion targeting females, is particularly revealing and mean-spirited. She first scoffs at the idea that Motion 408, which asks that “the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.” “It’s as though Conservatives think grown women and cell clumps are members of the same voting bloc,” she writes with scientifically illiterate annoyance, “as though they have the same interests, and the same IQ.” A revealing statement—besides Ms. Mallick’s lack of knowledge—or at least acknowledgement—of embryology, her argument seems to be that since “baby women” are not members of the same voting bloc (in that they can’t vote) or have the same interests (“living” would probably be among them), these female fetuses obviously do not have her IQ.

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