Monday, April 2, 2012

Fasten your seat belts, here comes the abortion debate...

In just under three and a half years I have written or touched on the topic of abortion 21 times.  In fact the most often read post on this blog is "Abortion in Canada Legal – Right Up Until Time of Birth".

Well, here goes number 22.

Canada is about to have a parliamentary debate on the topic of...yes, you guessed it..abortion.  Forget about Justin Trudeau's victory over Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau. A debate about abortion is bound to be far more combative and nasty than anything that takes place in a boxing ring.

For those who might scream foul at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over a promise that his government would not reopen the debate, take a second.  This is an initiative of MP  Stephen Woodworth acting as a private member, not of the Harper government.  And in point of fact the Conservative member from Kitchener isn't even proposing any new legislation, he merely wants parliament to discuss and potentially study the present law, one which says a child only becomes a human being with rights after it emerges from its mother's womb.

What's truly remarkable about this debate is how woefully ignorant Canadians are with respect to our laws.  Just over two years ago a poll was published by Angus Reid with results showing 92% of Canadians were not aware that our nation has no laws on the books whatsoever. 

In this Canada stands completely alone among developed nations.  France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden...liberal democracies all, and all have laws defining when an abortion can take place, or rather when it cannot.  With restrictions typically coming in the 3rd trimester unless there is a threat to maternal health.

The debate is already in full flight on the Internet of course.  In the red corner, those who think a woman should have the right to make decisions about her body no matter what stage of pregnancy are  in full battle mode.

And in the blue corner the right to lifers, cheering the fact that Canada will finally debate the topic of when or if a fetus/preborn should ever be accorded rights under our laws. 

The only polling data I can come across is just over 10 years old, from 2001, but I suspect the numbers haven't changed much.  According to a Gallup poll done in December of that year over 60% of Canadians think there should be restrictions on abortion, with 14% of the survey supporting an outright ban.  Only 32% believed abortion should be legal in all circumstances, the status quo in other words.

I'm in the majority on this one.  I am pro-choice, but not in the third trimester when a fetus is so far developed even Henry Morgentaller himself called them babies.  I will grant that the number of late-term abortions that take place (excepting cases of maternal health) are incredibly small, but that's why we have laws.  Just because something happens rarely doesn't mean it should necessarily be excluded from any statute.

For those in the 32% minority (based on Gallup's polling numbers) who are angry this debate is even taking place, I'd note that 32% is even less than the Conservative's percentage of the popular vote in any of our recent elections. 

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