REAL Women spends much time and research on the life issues of abortion and euthanasia. The reason for this is that these two issues are paramount and vital in the 21st Century. Both are definitive and defining, not only in social/political terms, but also at the level of the individual. The manner in which these matters are resolved will impact our civil rights and obligations as well as our culture for generations to come.
Life versus Death
Advances in medical knowledge, such as ultrasound or foetal surgery, make it difficult for rational individuals to argue against the humanity of the child in the womb. Consequently, instead of trying to dispute the obvious, those who argue for abortion have shifted their argument to a pure utilitarian calculus in terms of whether it is reasonable and acceptable to eliminate human life for reasons of mere convenience or cost, whether financial, emotional or social. The pro-abortionists’ position has been reduced to whether a woman—based on her subjective assessment that another human being is an obstacle to her self-realization and fulfillment—can be empowered to determine the worth and value of that life and eliminate it. In Canada, which lacks any regulation of abortion, the value or worth of the unborn child is determined not under the law, but solely by the mother. Should she decide that the life is of insufficient value, then she is permitted to destroy that life or have that life destroyed “professionally”– no questions asked.
The Madness of MAiD
The notion of empowering another to determine the utilitarian value of someone else’s life also arises in regard to the Medical Assistance in Dying regime (MAiD), which permits a health care practitioner to kill a patient by lethal injection. In Canada, this destruction of life under MAiD has been extended to terminate the life of the vulnerable, such as the disabled, the aged, and the homeless, in lieu of providing them with social and health care services. The value of human life under MAiD is determined by others, who persuade or coerce the patient to agree to their own death by a health care practitioner, based on cost/benefit considerations.
Recommendations have recently been made to extinguish the life of a newly born child struggling with medical complications. Ethics professor, Peter Singer, of Princeton University, believes that the decision to cause the death of a newborn with medical deficiencies is acceptable for at least 30 days after birth. This conclusion is based on his belief that such infants have not yet become “self-aware,” which is necessary in his view to determine “personhood” as well as “functionalism,” (what that person can or cannot do). As preposterous as this notion may seem today, it should be recalled that it was unthinkable just a generation ago to even suggest that the life of the unborn child could be extinguished upon request. Similarly, it was unthinkable, prior to June 16th, 2016 when the MAiD regime was introduced, that it would be legal for a health care practitioner to kill, or be involved in the killing, of a patient. Let us be very clear: in a few short years, we have gone from prohibiting MAiD, to allowing it only in cases where a person suffers from an incurable illness whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable”, to no longer requiring that death be “reasonably foreseeable” or that a person has a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible, to allowing MAiD be made available to those suffering “mental illness”. The numbers don’t lie: between 2016 and 2021, 31,664 Canadians have been killed under the MAiD regime. This regime’s grim harvest grows year by year – from 1,018 in 2016 to 10,064 in 2021. This is what the bureaucratic institutionalization of death looks like; this is what Canada has become.
An alternative view to the utilitarian calculus is that each human life has an objective, intrinsic value, whether such life be that of a homeless person or a millionaire. In other words, instead of treating individuals as merely a means to an end (utilitarian calculus), we should regard individuals as ends in themselves (inherent worth): their humanity is deserving of the law’s protection and the government’s respect. The critical differences between utilitarian calculus, inherent worth, and consequent policies are currently being debated in a seesaw battle. The final outcome of this critical debate will have a profound impact on the future of our society.
Life issues in the United States have been primarily focused on the issue of abortion. In 1973, the US Supreme Court concluded, in Roe v. Wade, that a woman had a constitutional right to abortion. This decision was overturned by the US Supreme Court in June 2022 in Dobbs v. Jackson. The Dobbs decision enraged abortion advocates, who unleashed vicious attacks on pregnancy crisis centres, churches, and even a number of Supreme Court justices in the privacy of their homes. It also led to a denial of commercial services for those known to reject abortion. The Associated Press, in December 2022, changed its Style Guide to require that journalists no longer use the term “fetal heartbeat” and “late-term abortion”, claiming that these terms were overbroad and misleading. In future, the AP Style Guide instructs journalists to cease using the terms “pro-life”, “pro-choice”, and “pro-abortion”: the latter is to be replaced by the expression “abortion rights”. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) laid charges against peaceful pro-life demonstrators and admitted that this action was in retaliation for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The DOJ has clearly become politicized and obviously has become a tool of the left by failing to investigate and lay charges in the over 250 attacks on pro-life organizations that have occurred since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Unlike Canada, each state in the United States has its own criminal law which prohibits euthanasia. In 1997, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in Washington v. Glucksberg, that a right to assisted suicide was not protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution. The result is that only ten states have enacted MAiD regimes. Nevertheless, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Glucksberg, there remains ongoing debate surrounding the differences between refusal of treatment, suicide, assisted suicide, physician-assisted suicide, “letting die”, and the constitutional implications of those distinctions.
Legal and social debates surrounding life issues in Canada have developed differently than in the United States, although not without some similarities. In January 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the restrictions on abortion contained in the Criminal Code in order to permit abortions without any restriction. In doing so, however, the court acknowledged that Parliament could enact a new law on abortion in order to protect foetal life, providing that the new law was in compliance with the Charter of Rights.
It is clear from the 1988 Morgentaler decision that there was no unlimited constitutional right for a woman to have an abortion, as Parliament was free to enact a law regulating abortion. The failure of Parliament to act is without doubt the most outrageous example of moral cowardice in the history of the Dominion. In the aftermath of Morgentaler (1988), the mainstream media, together with the elites within the three major political parties, have consistently pushed the lie that there exists a “consensus in Canada to maintain the status quo” – that is, no restrictions on abortion. This lie continues to be advanced, despite overwhelming evidence that a clear majority of Canadians believe that there ought to be some regulation of abortion, particularly to protect unborn children, aborted simply because they are considered to be the wrong sex, or aborted late-term where the viability of the unborn child is not in question.
The lie of the “status quo consensus” was used by Justin Trudeau as justification to require all Liberal candidates to support his policies on abortion and MAiD. This requirement has resulted in the election of Liberal MP’s and subsequent Cabinet Ministers who are devoid of moral backbone or an ethical compass. The complete lack of independence and personal integrity of the Liberal Caucus is evident every day as new ethics violations come to light. The many, and continuing, ethics violations that have occurred under Justin Trudeau’s government are staggering, but not unexpected when the leadership is so ethically challenged. Not surprisingly, when confronted with criticism, the Liberals simply draw on their well-used playbook of lies, denials, fact manipulations, and transparency avoidance by either adjourning Parliament or hiding behind “cabinet privilege”.
Trudeau’s lie about the “status quo consensus” and his assumption that Canadians agree that abortion should be widely available were again proven false when thousands of Canadians refused to sign the pro-abortion attestation required to receive grants under the government’s summer jobs program.
Furthering Trudeau’s lie that Canadians accepted abortion, in the 2021 federal election, he included in the Liberal Party’s platform a provision that the charitable status of pregnancy crisis centres would be removed, allegedly because they provide “misinformation”. This policy was confirmed by Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in the House of Commons on December 2, 2022. Despite their fevered desire to carry out Trudeau’s policy they have been confronted with a number of difficulties. One is that organizations that counsel abortion also have tax exempt status (as well as generous taxpayer funding!): only in Trudeau’s Canada is the counselling to kill babies considered a charity! Consequently, any proposed legislation to remove a tax-exempt status from pregnancy crisis centres, based on the providing of “misinformation”, would also open up abortion counselling providers to the same scrutiny. Since these abortion counselling agencies make their money by providing abortion referrals, they are unlikely to offer counselling for alternatives, disclose complications arising from the abortion procedure, or discuss the reality of the developing child in the womb. As a result, it can be argued, indeed cogently, that they are providing “misinformation” to women and the public, which seriously calls into question their eligibility for charitable status.
Consequently, any new provision in the income tax act, to specifically remove the charitable status of pregnancy crisis centres, leaves such status of abortion counselling agencies open to legal challenges.
Life Issues Divide Our Nation
It is obvious from the above that the debate on life issues remains intense, far from settled, and certainly lacking a consensus. Indeed, the only consensus that seems to exist appears to favour some restrictions on abortion for reasons of sex-selection or late term, where the unborn child is viable.
Canadians are divided by many other issues as well, such as culture, religion, ethnicity. However, these divisions have a common denominator: different perspectives on the meaning and worth of human life.
Abortion/euthanasia advocates believe in a utilitarian/materialistic calculus of an individual’s worth. Their goal is to control the public’s behaviour and opinion in order to support their warped, Malthusian view of human society which they believe is best controlled by government. To accomplish their goal, they believe it is necessary to deny freedom of speech, the practice of religion, to restrict employment, and even to freeze the bank accounts of those who question their narrative.
Others believe, however, that there are certain boundaries which the state may not cross. One of these boundaries is the taking of a human life, whether by capital punishment, euthanasia, or abortion. This conviction is based on the premise that all life has inherent value and dignity, which must be absolutely protected and respected by the state. In addition, they believe that the public must be free to believe, to speak, to practice their faith, to obtain employment on merit not political belief, without state interference.
This is, in a nutshell, the dilemma of the 21st century. The choice between life and death has never been clearer nor the stakes so high. The path that we take today in dealing with these profound life issues will have implications not only for us, but for future generations. We are at the crossroads: we see what our country is becoming if we continue to choose death over life. Do we have the political will and moral courage to choose life?