Jackson Doughart
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The Pro-Abortionist's "Own Facts"

The National Post, 02 May 2014


One is entitled to one’s opinions, the saying goes, but not to one’s own facts. The pro-abortion movement, which is presently protesting quite minor restrictions on abortion in the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, espouses several of its "own facts".

Its partisans believe that there are no relevant considerations in the abortion debate beyond the invocations of a woman’s equality and "choice", notwithstanding the advancements of embryology that have discredited the representation of unborn humans as mere cellular blobs or uterine appendages. They maintain that abortion is a harmless medical procedure, with restrictions being the sole threat to women’s safety, despite the research indicating that induced abortions, and especially multiple induced abortions on a single woman, pose risks to the health of her future children. They believe that their opponents are easily dismissed as Bible-thumbing, women-hating, privileged white men who have no right to circumscribe the "right to choose". In reality, Canadian women are as likely to oppose abortion as men, the arguments against the practice are as accessible to the secular as they are to the religious, and the individual rights to free expression and democratic government apply as seriously to this issue as they do to any other.

But the biggest misperception, peddled as a fact by the pro-choicers, is that Canadians possess a constitutional right to abortion, established by the notorious Morgentaler ruling by the Supreme Court in the winter of 1988. The rhetoric of pro-abortion demonstrations invariably includes prominent references to the terms of that ruling, while embellishing its conclusion for argumentative gain. Likewise, Canada’s media elites regularly invoke the Morgentaler ruling as the final word on the subject. "The courts have spoken," they chant, always in an effort to silence those who would reopen the issue in Parliament, as well as to brand New Brunswick and P.E.I. as hotbeds of reaction.

The legal reality, however, could hardly be more favourable to provinces that wish to limit their own culpability for Canada’s mass-abortion culture, which produces over 90,000 terminations of pregnancy annually. The Canada Health Act, which conditions the federal funding of provincial health-care programs upon the performance of medically-necessary procedures, leaves the interpretation of medical necessity to the provinces themselves. So while Ontario and Quebec are free to ascribe necessary status to abortion-on-demand, P.E.I. and New Brunswick are likewise free to place reasonable checks on elective abortions which are, in their view, not medically needed.

According to the pro-abortion movement, there is an overriding constitutional obligation of these provinces to provide abortion-on-demand to all women who may desire it, notwithstanding the real basis in public aversion to the practice that these policies possess. It must be said that this belief has no basis in legal fact. While abortion proponents may well argue that there is a moral right to unfettered abortion access, they err in claiming that a parallel legal right exists. Abortions in Canada are not prosecuted because there are no statutory or constitutional bases for prosecution, not because the common law, criminal-law statutes, or the constitutional canon have enumerated a right to abortion.

The Morgentaler ruling only struck down the established and specific abortion law which required women to apply to a therapeutic abortion committee for any termination, including ones that would alleviate an immediate threat to the mother’s health such as ectopic pregnancy. As well, some regions of the country were not equipped with such committees, meaning that women who needed a therapeutic abortion but could not access a committee-equipped hospital had to choose between breaking the law and preserving their own health. It was this measure, and this measure alone, that the Court struck down when it ruled in the Morgentaler case. It did not decree that any law restricting abortion amounted to a violation of the Charter right to security of the person, which is the thrust of the pro-abortionists’ present argument.

Prince Edward Island is my native province, and I was living in Charlottetown when the first wave of pro-abortion activism by the P.E.I. Reproductive Rights Organization was taking shape in 2011. Apart from the profanity of their cause, the one trait that struck me of their movement was its lack of democratic respect. The members of "PRRO" that I dealt with personally in attempting to organize a public debate on the issue—in which they ultimately refused to participate—told me directly that they neither cared nor worried that people like me disagreed genuinely with them. Publically-funded abortion-on-demand, in all places, was their right that no one was going to take away from them, notwithstanding any convincing argument. They were wrong on the facts, then as now, but one worries that this has not deterred them or their many followers from advancing a thoroughly misguided cause.





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Jackson Doughart jdoughart (at) gmail (dot) com