Editorial by John-Henry Westen
Editor-in-Chief LifeSiteNews.com

OTTAWA, October 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper went on a verbal rampage against the right to life of unborn children last week, promising not only that a Conservative government would not open the abortion issue, but that it would prevent anyone else from raising it.

Asked by a reporter if Harper could give assurances to pro-abortion groups, who are accusing the Conservatives of engineering a stealth pro-life campaign, Harper said that he could. “The answer is yes. This government will not open, will not permit anyone to open the abortion debate. Our position is clear,” he said, speaking in French.

So, what was the reaction of Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe to Harper’s new hard-line against unborn children? Absurdly, it was to suggest that Harper has a hidden agenda to recriminalize abortion. Maybe Duceppe just doesn’t speak the same French as Harper.

You might think that Duceppe, bored of the Canadian election, has been watching a little too much CNN and getting his nationalistic wires crossed. His own comments give evidence that this is the case. “They are saying the same thing as the Republicans in the United States,” Duceppe said. “(The Conservatives) said they intend to reopen the debate. Everything indicates that a majority Harper government is reopening the door wide open to criminalizing abortion.”

Many will recognize Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s response to the question, “When does a baby get human rights?” “Answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade,” Obama infamously responded. Few, though, have heard Republican nominee John McCain’s straightforward radio ad comeback: “If I am President, advancing the cause of life will not be above my pay grade.”

McCain’s outright declaration of his intent to protect the unborn bears absolutely no resemblance to Harper’s repeated assertions that he will not tolerate any attempts to place any restrictions whatsoever on abortion.

In fact, Harper’s position on abortion is, in effect, so extreme that it falls even to left of Obama’s, forget about McCain. Harper loathes discussing abortion and, as he has said repeatedly, would not even permit the debate to be raised. This leaves Canada maintaining its lawless position on abortion, in which unborn babies are aborted until birth at taxpayer expense for any reason at all. Even Obama, considered by many to be the most extreme pro-abortion presidential candidate in US history, is ostensibly in favor of some restriction on abortion. He told Pastor Rick Warren in the now-famous Saddleback debate: “I am in favor, for example, of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother’s health.”

Harper won’t even have that. Every poll on the abortion issue, taken in the last ten years, has indicated that a majority of Canadians favor some restrictions. But Harper refuses to go there, even if only to cater to a big-tent conservative ideal. How on earth will he ever expand to the mushy middle and attract non-Conservatives if he can’t even reach out to the significant socially conservative constituency within the fold? Not only has he completely ignored that part of the Conservative core, he has gone out of his way to alienate them on this issue.

In the same press conference where Harper promised to squelch the abortion debate, an English-speaking reporter for an international news service asked incredulously, “Why would a conservative government not want some restriction on abortion?” Responding, Harper said: “I’ve been clear throughout my entire political career. I don’t intend to open the abortion issue. I haven’t in the past. I’m not going to in the future. Yes, there will be people in the Conservative Party who wish I would … But I have not done that in my entire political career, don’t intend to start now.”

The problem with Harper’s political abortion calculus is that it fails to factor in the fact that abortion will, in every election, be a major political issue. For a significant percentage of the population, it is the primary issue in any election. Without the right to life, says the logic, no other right could exist.

The right to life is the greatest human rights battle of the twenty-first century. But don’t take my word for it. The great great grandson of the hero of the anti-slavery movement William Wilberforce says the right to life is where his heroic ancestor would be campaigning today. Fr. Gerard Wilberforce said in a recent column, “I am often asked what would be the campaigns Wilberforce would be fighting if he were alive in 21st century Britain. I believe that there would be a number of different issues among them human trafficking and the scourge of drugs. But almost certainly at the top of the list, would be the issue of abortion.”

One day, the right to life for unborn children will be protected in law. As Fr. Wilberforce said: “As with my great ancestor, the battle took many years, even decades. But now, with the passage of time we look back in horror at how we devalued human life. I truly believe we will look back in years to come, repent and ask forgiveness for what we let happen to the unborn child.”