16 Years Later, Still No Abortion Law
Parliament Can and Must Act
We live with a terrible reality in Canada. Unlike any other modern
democracy, there is no law regulating abortions at any stage of pregnancy.
A pregnant woman can get an abortion at any time, for any reason, at
any stage of pregnancy.
For all 9 months, indeed at any time, even during child birth, the
unborn child has no rights in criminal law. The Supreme Court has consistently
ruled that Parliament must act for the unborn to have any rights. Find
someone of good will but with no involvement in the pro-life movement,
and tell them that the unborn in Canada may be aborted at any stage
of pregnancy, including during the very birth process itself. You may
be surprised (and uplifted) by their response.
How Did We Get Here
In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Morgentaler case
that due to the procedural unfairness of the laws regulating access
to abortion, these restrictions were being stuck from the Criminal Code.
However, in the 3 decisions representing the majority and the 1 decision
for the minority, none of the 7 justices found a constitutional right
to unrestricted abortion. Moreover, all 4 decisions clearly stated that
Parliament had a right (and the obligation) to regulate abortions to
protect the rights of the unborn.
No Constitutional Right To Abortion
In a well-publicized Montreal speech last year, Jean Chretien insinuated
that the abortion issue has been settled by the courts when he stated,
"We don't have big debates on the rights of abortion because we decided
a long time ago in Canada it is the choice of women, which is not the
case in a lot U.S. states." http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2003/may/03051601.html
Likewise, at a speech to a Quebec Liberal women's group leading upto
the last federal election, Chretien stated: "There was a decision in
1988 of the Supreme Court [striking down Canada's abortion law]. We
have had social peace in Canada on the question of abortion" (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2000/nov/001106.html).
This is, like many other convoluted things he stated over the past
12 years as prime minister, not true. Unlike the United States, our
Supreme Court has not established a constitutional right to abortion.
Our Supreme Court has consistently insisted in multiple cases that the
rights of the unborn may be protected by Parliament.
In the multiple decisions that constituted the majority in the Morgentaler
case, then Chief Justice Brian Dickson and Justices Beetz and Wilson
each stated Parliament had the right to regulate abortion. The Chief
Justice stated, "Protection of foetal interests by Parliament is … a
valid governmental objective" (p 38, Dickson) Likewise, J. Beetz wrote:
"I am of the view that the protection of the foetus is, and as the Court
of Appeal observed, always has been, a valid objective in Canadian criminal
law…" (Beetz, p. 56) These two writers represented four of the seven
The preamble to the decisions clearly found there is no constitutional
right to abortion when it stated: "The proposition that women enjoy
a constitutional right to have an abortion is devoid of support in either
the language, structure or history of the constitutional text, in constitutional
tradition, or in the history, traditions or underlying philosophies
of our society" (p. 39)."
LeMay and Sullivan Case
In 1991, the Supreme Court ruled that the unborn child had no rights
under Canadian law. Two midwives were charged with criminal offences
when their efforts resulted in the death of a child during birth.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal, in the decision upheld by Chief
Justice Antonio Lamer in the Supreme Court decision of March 1991, stated
that the unborn child, even during birth, has no rights in Canadian
law because Parliament has refused to act since the 1988 Morgentaler
decision. The Court stated: "If Parliament considers it appropriate
to protect a child during the birth process from criminally negligent
acts by those attending and assisting at the birth that is a matter
upon which Parliament can legislate". Consequently, because Parliament
has not acted, there is no protection for the unborn at any stage of
pregnancy, including during the birthing process.
This election, when considering the issues presented, if you think
that the unborn child deserves protection at some stage of his development,
including in the last 3 months of pregnancy or during birth, you must
act on these convictions and challenge your local candidates about what
action they will take to protect the unborn. Parliament has refused
to act on life issues, and has allowed the Courts to create our terrible
legal situation whereby an abortion can be bought for any reason, at
any time of pregnancy.
It is time for Parliament to act. There is no constitutional right
to abortion, and since it was legalized in 1969, there have been over
2 million reported abortions in Canada. Get your local candidates to
take a stand, then vote for the one prepared to defend the unborn in
our next Parliament.