Sorry, You're Too Late. We're Closed ... Or Maybe Not
In the course of researching Dr. Morgentaler's Order of Canada and some of its fallout, I found this steaming pile of misstatement at the Hamilton Spectator. It's an opinion by the publisher of The Catholic Register.
Joseph Sinasac takes issue with what he perceives as twin assumptions: Firstly "that abortion is a done deal and there is no point arguing about it anymore ... time to move on," and secondly "that Canadians by and large agree having no legal restrictions on aborting unborn children is a good thing."
Well, since 60% of Canadians backed Morgentaler's award, I'd say that #2 goes without saying.
First, Sinasac has to move the debate away from the actual person who was actually given the award. Thusly:
It was not about whatever admirable qualities he may have demonstrated over decades of battling for his cause, whether courage or perseverance or consistency. It was, simply put, about abortion.Which rather contradicts the reasons as given, which included "a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation."
Then he dodges the central issue of the Morgentaler case of 1988 selectively quoting Dr. Morgentaler himself:
"Since the Morgentaler decision of 1988 (before the Supreme Court of Canada), abortion has become available in most of Canada and the results are extremely good for women," he told the media at his Toronto clinic.Because timely access has nothing to do with whether a woman who needs an abortion before, say, 24 weeks, will seek one outside of a hospital if her way is deliberately obstructed by regulations, as pushed by people like Mr. Sinasac, I guess.
"Women no longer die as a result of abortion. Women are no longer cut up, damaged as a result of abortion. Women no longer lose their fertility because of abortion so the situation has improved greatly over most of Canada and I'm very proud of that."
Morgentaler is suffering from a bit of selective memory. Safe abortions were done before 1988, in hospitals, after approval by therapeutic committees. The court case revolved over whether there was enough timely access across the country.
And I'm sure any woman who needed an abortion would be happy to argue her case beore a committee. But longing for the good ol' days isn't Sinasac's point:
In fact, the very push to name Morgentaler to the Order of Canada was a part of a strategy to put the issue beyond debate, to turn abortion access into another of those "Canadian values" like multiculturalism or universal health care -- so exalted they are almost untouchable.Uh, dude? Abortions ARE health care. Thanks, in large part to Dr. Morgentaler. Sinasac goes on:
Those who were negative, he [Morgentaler] said, were from "the usual sources: the Catholic Church, the fundamentalists, the women who are usually against women's rights." And presumably, therefore, not worth listening to.Well so far it looks as though he's right.
A 2004 Environics poll revealed that 68 per cent of those surveyed favour some restrictions on abortion access. This includes 33 per cent who say life should be protected from the moment of conception. Clearly, Canadian public opinion would be more comfortable with a legal regime more akin to that in the countries of Western Europe such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- all of which restrict access to abortion to one degree or other -- than to the current legal vacuum.Yeah. I'm one of that 68%. I don't actually think you should be shooting the baby in the head as it emerges during labour, amazingly enough.
But also, I'm reasonably sure that "some restrictions" might actually mean something different from what Mr. S. thinks it does. For example, I think it might be desirable to restrict a woman from having her fifth non-theraputic abortion. Duh.
Also, there isn't a "legal vacuum" on this. From CBC News In Depth:
Abortion is now treated like any other medical procedure and is governed by provincial and medical regulations.
That should make Sinasac feel better, no?
Me, I feel that non-theraputic abortion should be available up until at least 3 months without question. I mean, if you can't make up your mind about whether or not you want the brat by twelve weeks then I respectfully submit that you may not be thinking about it seriously enough. And in general, I think the six-month mark is probably a healthy limit.
But more importantly--can anyone tell me what reason there is to make MORE law on this when, actually, it's pretty obvious Canadians are okay with it? As far as I know, no-one has been forced to have an abortion she didn't want, nor to keep a baby she didn't want either. Good, all's well then, no? Why £µ©λ with it?
But Sinasac has more to say:
Even Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, who favours open access to abortion, acknowledged in her July 3 column that the fetus is not just a blob of cells. Ultrasound and other imaging techniques have made it impossible to deny that unborn children are truly tiny human beings with all their characteristics.And here's another blob of weasel crap. No-one has ever denied that "an unborn child" is a child.
The big fight is over where the dividing line should be drawn. Even the rabidest pro-choice person will agree that at some point an embryon becomes a foetus, and that a foetus at some point becomes an unborn baby. But you won't get logic like that from the "life begins at conception" crowd.
Would Sinasac argue that life begins at conception? That four cells is "a tiny human being"? He's trying to wallpaper the weakest point of his argument.
Spot the human:
You know something? I've lost my answer key. I think it's hamster, human, dog, elephant. Or possibly the first two are human and the other two are a manatee and a dolphin, respectively ... or maybe human, hamster, bunny, lolcat? ... Who can tell?
Sinasac is trying to reopen the abortion debate in this country. Pity for him he's about fifty years too late. The debate is over, and the rest of the country's moved on.
Except for New Brunswick, where despite the 1988 ruling, the province has legislated that it won't pay for abortions done at non-hospital clinics. They've also closed the only public abortion clinic left in a hospital.
Oh, and except for (ready for a big surprise?) the Conservative Party of Canada (NEW! Green!):
2004:Conservative Leader Stephen Harper tries to steer clear of the abortion controversy while campaigning for the June 28 election, saying he has no plans to change the country's abortion regulations if he forms the next government. The statement comes after his party's health critic says women considering an abortion should receive third-party counselling.
So perhaps Sinasac is right. The fight for women's rights isn't yet over.
Perhaps we should thank him for the wake-up call?