Canada’s national pro-life organization concerned about gestational legislation push
July 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Canada’s national pro-life political organization, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), has published in its July newsletter an unusual critique of recent efforts by some Canadian pro-lifers to promote legislation that would prohibit late-term abortions. Such “gestational” legislation provides legal protection only to a category of unborn persons beyond a certain gestational age.
CLC has had a constant policy of avoiding public criticisms of the efforts of other pro-life groups or individuals, but felt it finally had to publish the July article because of on-going, serious public misrepresentations of CLC policies and its past efforts on abortion legislation by those pushing the gestational approach. CLC is also concerned that the gestational emphasis has major pitfalls which could negatively impact future efforts to gain meaningful degrees of protection for unborn children in Canada.
Canada has been without an abortion law since its previous abortion legislation, introduced by Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1969, was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Morgentaler decision of January 28, 1988.
The Conservatives, under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, soon drafted a replacement law, which the Court had encouraged it to do. The national pro-life organizations were in strong agreement that the replacement law, proposed by strongly pro-abortion Justice Minister Kim Campbell, was so weak that it would likely not have prevented any abortions. The Conservative’s Bill C-43, was subsequently defeated in an unusual tie vote in the Senate.
Much to the dismay of all pro-life organizations, every effort since then to convince the Mulroney Conservatives and then every succeeding government to propose new abortion legislation have failed. This has left Canada in the extreme situation of being the only western democratic nation without any legislative abortion restrictions.
CLC begins its newsletter article emphasizing that it “has always supported any legal and moral pro-life initiative, tactic, or strategy that raises the abortion issue and seeks to bring protection to the unborn”. It then adds its long-standing condition that it has done so “as long it does not compromise the principle that the life of every unborn child has the natural and fundamental right to protection in law.”
The article was written in response to public criticisms and communications to Members of Parliament that Campaign Life Coalition has followed an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Some have said that CLC has opposed or not supported “incremental measures” that would provide degrees of legislative protection for Canada’s unborn, such as conscience rights for health care workers, right-to-know legislation and ending taxpayer funding of abortion.
But CLC says the “criticism is based on ignorance and is totally inaccurate” and that they “have always supported incremental measures that have not compromised the principle of the equal value of every unborn life.”
Noting what it sees as possibly a “desperation” among some pro-life Canadians to get any legislation passed after so many years of frustration, CLC writes, “It is counterproductive and wrong to promote or accept abortion legislation that arbitrarily divides humans into protected and unprotected classes. Therefore, measures that create exceptions to abortion (rape, incest, health of the mother, genetic defects, and gestational) should be avoided.”
Referencing its previous 20 years’ of experience with the 1969 Trudeau amendments to the criminal code that opened the doors to widespread legal access to abortion in Canada, CLC relates, “We know how many of these supposedly defined exceptions have been interpreted in the widest possible manner in the past to rubber stamp practically every request for abortion.” For those 20 years the national pro-life organization drafted and tried to pass through Parliament various amendments to tighten up the weak, often-ignored restrictions in the law.
Canada’s unusual current situation of having no abortion law places a special additional responsibility on pro-life leaders according to CLC.
“If new abortion legislation said that abortion is permitted under certain circumstances and prohibited under others, then that legislation would be codifying in law permission to abort, that currently does not exist.” It adds, “The pro-life movement cannot propose or accept such legislation,” but “incremental measures that would lessen the harm of abortion by reducing its incidence and protecting health care workers” would be “supportable.”
Communications with international experts regarding gestational legislation have also convinced CLC that such legislation would be “counter-productive or fundamentally flawed legislation.”
The newsletter article states, “We have talked to international experts on this issue, and pro-life groups in countries that adopt such an approach say these phony restrictions do not stop abortions because unscrupulous abortionists simply lie about either the age of the unborn child or the reason for the abortion if there are exemptions to abortions after a certain point.”
CLC refers to recent “very popular efforts involving petitions and online activism that call for politicians to enact limits to the ‘greatest extent possible’ and others calling for the ‘best law possible.’”
The national organization endorses the goal, but warns that “a fundamentally flawed bill is not the ‘best possible’ law and a problematic law that legitimizes some abortions while appearing to limit others is not one that restricts to the ‘greatest extent possible.’”
It continues, “We need just laws that prohibit the killing of children before birth, and not any law that will make us feel good for appearing to do something.”
Revealing that it has “been publicly condemned by an outspoken few” for not giving full support to measures compromising fundamental pro-life principles, CLC responds, “with more than 30 years’ experience in this battle to protect human life, we have learned a thing or two and we know that the desperate ‘any law’ approach has serious fundamental flaws.” It stresses, “Experience has been that we need to be specific and must demand real, effective life-protecting measures, not just any sort of law that provides loop-holes with paper limits that will likely not save one unborn child.”
The CLC article does not name specific individuals or groups while addressing the controversy and it reaffirms its long-standing, full commitment to “unity within the pro-life movement.”
Still, CLC makes clear, “we do not seek unity at the cost of principle. We pray for charity in dealing with each other and understanding and love in working for our common goal. But Campaign Life Coalition believes that it cannot sacrifice core principles to win a shaky unity of convenience.”
While continuing to work for “life-affirming legislation that protects all children in the womb,” CLC assures that it will also continue, as it always has, to “support laws that effectively chip away at the abortion license” and “will continue to work with all pro-life groups and individuals that share these goals.”
See the complete July CLC National News article.