Blog #63: Abortion and being on the “Right Side of History”

By John Cline

Years ago, I met George Grant, the author of the book “Third Time Around: The History of the Pro-Life Movement from the First Century to the Present”. In his fascinating book, Dr. Grant gives a sweeping history of the Church’s care for the unwanted, the helpless, the abused, the deprived, the elderly, the handicapped, widows, orphans, and victims of injustice. In the process he delivers a serious challenge to those of us who claim to follow Christ today as he rightly states that one’s claiming to be “pro-life” has to be about more than being against only abortion.

But concerning abortion, Dr. Grant made the case in our private pastor’s meeting, that future generations will look back at our generation and say with alarm, “what were they thinking participating in and/or being silent about the wholesale killing of their unborn?”

With current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reintroducing the discussion of abortion back into Canadian society with his government’s discriminatory requirement in the Federal Government’s Student Summer Jobs programme that groups applying for financial grants have to agree to abortion rights (which they euphemistically call “reproductive rights” even though there is no reproduction happening if an abortion takes place). The government claims that “reproductive rights” are in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. Of course, they are not. Those are false claims by Liberal partisans. What is in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is religious freedom and freedom of speech. Trudeau’s crackdown on pro-life groups violates both.

A Liberal Party Newfoundland Member of Parliament, Scott Simms, is risking his political future in petitioning his own government to reverse that clause in the student summer jobs program that requires groups applying for grants to agree to abortion rights. Justin Trudeau has already made it a Liberal Party policy that no Liberal candidate or member of his caucus can be pro-life. Despite knowing that a severe reprimand is coming, even expulsion from the Libertal caucus, MP Simms is boldly stating that the new abortion clause in jobs program is wrong in that it discriminates against churches, mosques, synagogues, and all pro-life groups – groups, by the way, which are filled with individuals who pay taxes and whose tax money is being used to pay for the Student Summer Jobs programme. The Liberal MP says it is unfair that churches and Christian groups are being asked to violate their fundamental beliefs in order to receive funding for jobs and programmes that are non-political, or unrelated to reproductive rights. Prime Minister Trudeau forcing Canadian employers to swear a moral statement to adhere to the Liberal Party’s social policy violates their Charter rights, contends MP Scott Simms.

This is a courageous move by Scott Simms. Also courageous are all those who have stood in the culturally unpopular position of being “pro-life”. It is a historical fact, though, that being pro-life has never been easy for it has always meant standing against the mores of society, whether that society be the Roman Empire or the pre-civil war United States, or today (the three “times” in George Grant’s book that the pro-life movement has had to act to defend the lives of babies. Indeed, pro-life Christians have always understood that our trust in God outweighs our fear and so they (we) carry on in advocating for the unborn.

It was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau (when he was Justice Minister – a year before he became Prime Minister), who famously in 1967 introduced a bill which included an amendment to section 251 of the Criminal Code which prohibited abortions. Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s bill, known as the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968–69, was passed on May 14, 1969,when he was the Prime Minister of Canada and provided for abortions when the health of the woman was in danger as determined by a three-doctor hospital committee. This same bill would be the subject of one of Trudeau’s most famous quotations: “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Regina v. (Henry) Morgentaler that the existing laws requiring a three-doctor hospital committee were unconstitutional, and struck down the 1969 law. Since then, Canada has had no criminal laws governing the subject, and abortion is a decision made by a woman with her doctor. This means that Canada has the dubious distinction of joining China and Cuba as the only nations on earth with no abortion restrictions whatsoever. Since that time, abortions in Canada have risen to a constant state of over 100,000 per year.

In the United States of America, where two Court judgments were handed down on the same day, January 15th, 1973, allowing for abortion-on-demand, over 60 million babies have been aborted since that day. Think of 60 million missing Americans! Think of 4 million missing Canadians! Ironically, there is a 46-year-old woman, born in Texas, who was the daughter of “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade. Her mother claimed that her pregnancy was the result of rape and that she should have the right to abort her baby but by the time the Supreme Court issued its decision in 1973, the baby had already been born and put up for adoption. The baby was adopted by a family in Texas—likely not knowing that all that ink spilled in Roe v. Wade was about her.

It is interesting that Norma McCorvey, the woman named “Jane Roe” in the first Supreme Court case, became staunchly pro-life later in her life and publicly admitted that virtually every fact on which her case was built – including the claim of rape – was a lie. Similarly, Sandra Cano, the “Doe” of Doe v. Bolton—Roe’s companion case from Georgia decided the same day—became an outspoken pro-life advocate and admitted that her case was also built on lies. Cano died in 2014 and McCorvey last year but they were heartened by the fact that the pro-life movement, though still an unpopular minority, is on the “right side of history”, as the saying goes.

That this is so was reflected in the fact that American President Donald Trump, on Monday, became the first sitting American President to address the March for Life participants in Washington, D.C. Despite his many failings, President Donald Trump is on the “right side of history” when it comes to abortion. He announced that Monday’s Roe v. Wade  and Doe v. Bolton anniversary would be declared “National Sanctity of Life Day” and stated, “Science continues to support and build the case for life”. In his proclamation he referenced the advent of more detailed sonograms and the new possibilities for procedures done in utero as important medical advances for the pro-life cause. Without a doubt, life begins at conception and science is on the side of the pro-life movement. “Today, citizens throughout our great country are working for the cause of life and fighting for the unborn, driven by love and supported by both science and philosophy”,Trump stated.

We sit at a technological moment where people are seeing what happens inside a mother’s tummy as a baby grows and develops. You cannot deny that’s a baby when you look at a picture. With new ultrasound technology, sonogram advancements, and the detecting of heartbeats in babies as young as six weeks of age, people are going to see even more what’s happening in that developmental stage. As a result, younger generations are becoming more pro-life as they’re connected to all of this science, many believe. Marches for Life in Washington, D.C., in Chicago, and in different cities around the world, including Santiago, Chile, and Paris, France, set records this year with the massive numbers of people marching for the rights of the unborn. Legislation that once allowed “abortion on demand” has been turned back in many countries around the globe as well as in many states in the USA.

Here in Canada? Not so much, but the pro-life movement will eventually be victorious because God – and, truth – are on its side. The road will be long and difficult, and with prime ministers who are not willing to view science or philosophically reflect deeply on what they are promoting or allowing, the days ahead will not be easy for pro-lifers. As author George Grant states, though, the day can be won when the meaning of being pro-life is expanded to include fighting and advocating for the unwanted, the helpless, the abused, the deprived, the elderly, the handicapped, widows, orphans, and victims of injustice. In the meantime, compassion from us Christians for mothers struggling with a pregnancy or with emotional post-abortion trauma will need to be part of that package of caring. When we persevere in love, God and truth will triumph through us.

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