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article imageCanada Poised To Reopen Abortion Debate

By Marian Peters     Dec 30, 2008 in Health
It has been twenty years since Canada's Supreme Court struck down Criminal Code restrictions on abortion. The new chairman of a secretive pro-life Parliamentary caucus told The Canadian Press that people need to be better educated.
Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge who chairs The All-Party Committee weighing in abortion law says that Canada is in a "class of its own". Although Prime Minister Harper has said he's not interested in reopening this divisive issue Bruinooge says "very few Canadians appreciate the fact that essentially until a child takes its first breath, it has less value than a kidney".
"In Canada you can't remove your kidney and put it on EBay and auction it off. That is illegal. Whereas you actually can end a beating heart of an unborn child the second before it's delivered. Most Canadians would agree that this is truly a poor bioethical position for our country to be in."
At the party's recent convention in Winnipeg, Conservative delegates voted to resurrect a proposal that would create specific criminal charges that could be laid against a suspect who kills or injures a fetus during a crime against a pregnant woman. Critics are concerned that such a law would reopen the abortion debate by recognizing fetal rights. If that were the case if the biological father also consented could he be held liable? If it could be proved that he insisted on the abortion could he be held completely responsible?
"I think the debate is ongoing", Bruinooge says. "We need to have a starting point of debating whether or not abortion should be legal right up until the moment of birth". Currently in Canada there are no laws in place protecting the fetus even right up until birth. Pro-choice advocates claim that Canadian doctors rarely perform such late-term procedures, only in situations where there is a serious threat to the health of the mother or if it's virtually certain that the fetus would not survive past birth.
Bruinooge wouldn't say how many MPs are formally part of the caucus, but he did say that there are supporters from every party. He said that it's up to individual members to "present their personal philosophy on this issue".
Erin Leigh, acting executive director of Canadians for Choice, says the "silent majority" of Canadians are pro-choice and realize it's important for women to have a safe, accessible alternative to pregnancy. "If a woman is pregnant and she doesn't want to be, she'll find ways to terminate that pregnancy, legally or illegally."
Joyce Arthur, co-ordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada says that it is not surprising that the pro-life movement is feeling "energized" lately. "It's something that the Conservative party is out of touch with because Canadians don't want to go back to the abortion debate," Arthur says. "People are happy with the status quo. It's working well."
Are Canadians really happy with it or are they just happy that this issue has not been on the table lately? How many Canadians really would advocate abortion after the second trimester? For those that are opposed to abortion at any stage what have they done lately to promote other alternatives?
In any event, get ready to debate this issue again.
More about Abortion, Unborn, Pro-life, Pro-choice
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