While some may celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to strike down Canada’s existing abortion law, pro-life groups like LifeCanada are in mourning.
“For 25 years, the abortion debate has been couched in the language of women’s rights—ignoring the tragic reality that over 2.2 million unborn children have been aborted in Canada since the 1988 Morgentaler decision,” the group says.
But LifeCanada has hope.
“With the advance of medical technology, including 3D and 4D ultrasound, and widespread access to information via social media and the Internet, it is impossible to hide the truth that abortion takes the life of a vulnerable human being,” it told LifeNews. “And the results are beginning to show. Since 2002, Environics polls, commissioned by LifeCanada, have consistently found that most Canadians want some legal restrictions on abortion. 72% of Canadians responding to the latest 2011 poll said they wanted legal restrictions on abortion. The poll further found that 92% of Canadians want sex selection abortions to be made illegal.”
Just a few days ago in the United States, which has at least some state restrictions on abortion, almost half a million people—mostly teenagers—gathered on Capitol Hill to call on their government to make abortion illegal. Canada should follow suit, the pro-life organization said. The Canadian National March for Life in 2012 saw its largest crowd yet—with over 22,000 participants advocating for a law restricting abortion in Canada.
“The tide is changing,” says LifeCanada president Lisa Smith, “More and more people are realizing that unrestricted access to abortion is not something to celebrate. This is a critical debate which is not about women’s rights, but about human rights—the rights of unborn human beings, girls and boys. Today, we will not celebrate the loss of over 2.2 million Canadians. Today we will mourn.”
The pro-life group We Need a Law also marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler. While many Canadians grieve the loss of a full quarter of their generation, others are celebrating the day with exuberance, calling all “pro-choice” Canadians to protect the rights they’ve earned.
“I cannot believe some of the things written and said in the media today. It is a complete misconception that women have a ‘right’ to abortion and it’s certainly not what the Supreme Court said twenty-five years ago,” said WeNeedaLAW.ca campaign director, Mike Schouten.
“While abortion defenders enjoy referencing Justice Bertha Wilson – the first woman appointed to the Canada’s Supreme Court – they all too often choose selective quotes that completely misrepresent what Justice Wilson said,” continued Schouten.
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Here follows an excerpt from Justice Wilson’s concurring opinion. It should be noted that Justice Wilson’s opinion was not shared with the other six judges – she wrote alone – and the other judges were all more “conservative” in their three written opinions:
“As Professor Sumner points out, both traditional approaches to abortion, the so-called “liberal” and “conservative” approaches, fail to take account of the essentially developmental nature of the gestation process. A developmental view of the foetus, on the other hand, supports a permissive approach to abortion in the early stages of pregnancy and a restrictive approach in the later stages. In the early stages the woman’s autonomy would be absolute; her decision, reached in consultation with her physician, not to carry the foetus to term would be conclusive. The state would have no business inquiring into her reasons. Her reasons for having an abortion would, however, be the proper subject of inquiry at the later stages of her pregnancy when the state’s compelling interest in the protection of the foetus would justify it in prescribing conditions. The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state’s interest in its protection becomes “compelling” I leave to the informed judgment of the legislature which is in a position to receive guidance on the subject from all the relevant disciplines. It seems to me, however, that it might fall somewhere in the second trimester. Indeed, according to Professor Sumner (p. 159), a differential abortion policy with a time limit in the second trimester is already in operation in the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Sweden, the Soviet Union, China, India, Japan and most of the countries of Eastern Europe although the time limits vary in these countries from the beginning to the end of the second trimester (cf. Stephen L. Isaacs, “Reproductive Rights 1983: An International Survey” (1982-83), 14 Columbia Human Rights Law Rev. 311, with respect to France and Italy). -R. v. Morgentaler 1988
“Justice Wilson was abundantly clear – abortion should not be legal throughout all the stages of fetal development, and it is in the hands of the Legislature, not the courts, to decide at which stage it should be restricted,” continued Schouten.
“I think it is great that after twenty-five years we are still having this debate. However, we should be properly informed of the legal facts. Muddying the waters with selective quotes in an attempt to support an untenable position is not conducive to fruitful discourse,” concluded Schouten.