Won’t nobody think of the babies?
Anti-abortion politics in Canada is about control, and nothing else
You have to feel for Canadians who wish to do something about the number of aborted pregnancies. It’s not easy being pro-life (or anti-abortion; more on that in a moment) in this country. And the blame lays squarely at the feet of the men who put themselves in charge of “official” pro-life groups.
This piece in the Star, about the latest policy shenanigans, is eye-opening especially if you know how to read between the lines. Unable to get the party to discuss repealing its policy not to legislate on abortion, Campaign Life Coalition is pushing for something bigger:
So now the CLC will instead try to force a vote to insert anti-abortion language – that Conservatives believe in the “value and dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death” – into the party’s constitution. Using a procedural tactic allowed by the party’s constitution, the social conservatives need just 100 delegates from different ridings to support a debate on their amendment.
Which apparently they say they have.
What bothers me about this is that it’s not about babies at all. It’s about who gets power to dictate what the official policy of the party is going to be.
Look, the guys who run CLC are not complete idiots. They know very well there is zero chance of passing a law banning abortion anytime in the – well, ever. It’s just not happening. You know it, they know it, we all know it. So why do they keep pushing?
To try and be in charge of the party. They’d rather captain a party doomed to crash than row in the back of a ship that’s not perfect.
The only question is: Who’s left to think about the babies?
I have a lot of sympathy for many of the arguments folks who call themselves pro-life have. For one thing, we’re talking about humans – I don’t care what your understanding of science is, it’s not cucumbers growing in there. It’s also alive – otherwise, why kill it? So I get that ending a human life form is something many people, not all of them religious, object to. I don’t like it either.
I am about the furthest thing away from religious social conservatives so I do not call myself a pro-lifer because I don’t want to be confused with them. But while I am absolutely in favour of women having full control over their sexual and reproductive freedom, I am not pro-abortion. I mean, it’s a terrible procedure, for all concerned. I see abortion as a sometimes necessary evil. Not something to celebrate.
Many moons ago I helped launch and wrote for a blog that argued for fewer abortions through no changes in the legislative framework. We were going to reduce the number of abortions by finding ways to 1) prevent pregnancies from happening and 2) offer support, including financial, to those facing unplanned pregnancies so they would at least have more than the binary options of aborting or dealing with the baby on their own.
Did we ever get the support of groups like CLC? No. Quite the contrary – they saw us as part of the problem because 1) contraception is evil and 2) helping women and girls facing unwanted pregnancies is not part of the official pro-life plan in this country. Limiting their choices is.
But why? Why fight against sexual education and contraception, or genuine and helpful supports for those facing unplanned pregnancies? You will find these holier-than-thou pro-lifers outside abortion clinics yelling at women not to abort their gift from the bearded guy in the sky, but you’ll never see them offering housing or financial help to a pregnant teenager who’s been kicked out of her parents’ house.
To mean something and to be able to attract the support of more Canadians, “pro-life” has to be about the lives of everyone involved, the born and the unborn. If we had a movement that genuinely tried to limit the number of abortions by offering real support and no judgment to those facing an unplanned pregnancy, and by making sure young people had proper sexual education and free access to contraception, you can bet there would be a lot of Canadians backing it. Especially if it never questioned the absolute right of women to be the ones deciding when they will bear children and with whom.
That would be an effective force for good. But as long as “official” pro-lifers continue to care about wielding political power more than they care about the lives of the real people who find themselves having to make decisions to end a growing human life, they will remain what and where they are. Nothing more than a sad, irrelevant side show.