By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, August 11, 2010 ( – The Canadian debate on abortion, more prominent in 2010 than it has been for years, is still making waves across the country as Canadians continue to show dissatisfaction with the status quo and the government's refusal to open debate on the issue.

Just in the last two weeks, even after the dust has mostly settled on the G8 maternal health battle, the subject of abortion made the cover of two national papers, while a new poll showed that a strong minority of Canadians believe the abortion debate is “long overdue.”

The poll, conducted by Angus Reid from July 7-8 and released August 3,confirmed that Canadians are largely ignorant of the legal status of abortion, revealing that only 21 per cent of respondents knew there is no law on abortion whatsoever.  Forty one per cent of respondents believed abortion is restricted to the first three months of pregnancy.

When they were told the status quo, only 27 per cent of respondents supported it.  Furthermore, 30 per cent of respondents wanted the debate on abortion to be reopened.

On Saturday, the Toronto Star featured a cover story aiming to expose the supposed “deception” of Toronto's crisis pregnancy centres.  Pro-abortion groups often target these centres because they have been very effective at helping women choose life and then supporting them through the pregnancy.

The paper sent an undercover reporter into eight of the city's centres, posing as a pregnant woman looking for counselling.

The piece's author, Joanna Smith, claims the centres are distributing “misleading information,” regarding, for example, the emotional and physical trauma caused by abortion, and purports to debunk such “myths.”  She focuses in particular on the abortion-breast cancer link, a common target because that link is rejected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  The author neglects to point out, however, that NCI's position is contested by numerous experts, who charge that the organization is ignoring a continually growing body of research.

She does admit, however, that the centres are led by “compassionate and caring individuals,” and “quiet servants and soldiers of God who make it their mission to save the unborn by changing the mindset of one woman at a time.”

A week before the Star piece, the National Post had carried a cover story and continuing two full page spread inside about the continuing plight of pro-life prisoner of conscience Linda Gibbons.  Gibbons has spent eight of the last 16 years in prison for her silent witness outside a Toronto abortuary, because she is violating a “temporary” injunction imposed in 1994.

The story, believed to be the largest piece on Gibbons from a major national paper, shared Gibbons' story, and her conviction that not to counsel women seeking abortion is comparable to silently allowing the Nazis to murder Jews.

The paper carried another full story Wednesday on her trial, detailing her lawyers' conviction that the Crown has abused the legal system to avoid a legal challenge of the injunction.

These recent developments follow a loud and drawn-out ideological battle this winter and spring over whether Canada should fund abortion as part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to advance Third World maternal health at the G8.  Within days of Harper announcing the plan at the end of January, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, along with the country's abortion lobby groups, demanded the government divert some of the crucial funds towards abortions.

Harper steadfastly refused, but characteristically shut down any attempts at debate on the issue.  “We do not wish to debate abortion in this place or elsewhere,” he said on numerous occasions.

Parliament rejected Ignatieff's proposal in March when they defeated a pro-abortion motion with a vote of 144-138.

The pro-life cause continued to make big headlines in May when the National March for Life in Ottawa, which drew a record 12,500, generated unprecedented media coverage.  The annual rally was featured as the leading story in numerous national papers and news programs, and the Toronto Star even inflated the estimate to 15,000.

Again in May, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, then-Archbishop of Quebec, ignited a blaze of fury in Quebec when he reiterated the Christian belief in the sanctity of unborn life, even when he or she is conceived in rape.  A couple weeks later, he made headlines again by declaring at a press conference that “the abortion debate is ON.”

“It augurs well for the future, the fact that this is happening,” said Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition, the political arm of Canada's pro-life movement.

Hughes said that politicians need to listen to their constituents and stop hiding from this crucial issue.  “The politicians shy away from the topic, let alone the debate on the issue,” he noted.  “They're frightened of it.  Killing children before they are born?  Let's just sweep that under the rug.”

According to Hughes, the poll showing Canada's ignorance on abortion “puts a greater responsibility on all of us that are in the business of trying to report the truth.  We need to get it out there unvarnished, and hope and pray that finally it just begins to meet its mark.”

See related coverage:

Linda Gibbons Hits Cover of National Post

New Poll Confirms Most Canadians Do Not Know Canada Has No Abortion Law