Friday, April 16, 2010

Legalize It (?)

Joyce Arhtur calls for formally legalized abortion, and more

When the Canadian Supreme Court struck down Canada's abortion law in 1988, abortion under demand, under any circumstances and for any reason, became legal in Canada.

In the years since, few governments have dared venture anywhere near the abortion issue. Brian Mulroney's government attempted to legislate a new abortion law only to be stopped by a deadlocked caucus.

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada director Joyce Arthur, however, thinks this state of affairs has gone on long enough -- and that Canada needs an abortion law.

Unshockingly, Arthur thinks that Canada should formally legalize abortion. She's actually right about this. But after a few more small details, that's where it ends, and Arthur's ideas diverge into pro-abortion authoritarianism.

Arthur is actually right to insist that provincial health ministries should ensure that abortion is available in each region of their province for those women who need them.

But Arthur's other proposals for such a law are fraught with problems.

For example, Arthur insists that all medical students should be required to be trained in abortion. She suggests that governments should be required to fund abortions, and that provinces be required to pay for reciprocally-billed abortions.

She suggests that the law limit conscientious objection by doctors, and ban abortion protests outside of clinics.

Clearly, it's Arthur's latter two suggestions that are more troublesome.

Arthur isn't only in favour of shutting down anti-abortion protest outside of clinics. She's also in favour of shutting down anti-abortion groups on university campuses, denying them both funding and club status.

It seems that Arthur is full of all kinds of ideas to curb the debate on abortion -- so long as it's her opponents who are being silenced.

The suggestion regarding limited conscientious objection is even more alarming. For one thing, Arthur declines to define under what circumstances she believes an appropriately trained physician could decline to perform an abortion. Her insistence that all medical students, even those specializing in otherwise-unrelated fields, be trained in abortion would confront a great many more doctors with that choice.

(Requiring doctors who decline to perform an abortion to refer appropriately is actually a reasonable requirement.)

Moreover, Arthur's proposed law speaks nothing to any kind of limit on abortion. The word "limit" appears only within her suggestion to limit consientious objection, and "late-term abortion" appears not at all.

If Canada were to legislate on abortion without including a limit on abortion on demand, it would be the only country in the developed world to do so.

Moreover, it's unlikely that any government could manage to pass such a law without any kind of limits on on-demand aboriton. It's actually unlikely that any government could pass such a law with such limits, as the Mulroney example clearly demonstrates.

Perhaps Arthur imagines that her the Liberal Party decline to nominate any candidates who are not pro-abortion fits in with this proposal.

That the Liberal Party could not win a government without tolerating dissent on the topic of abortion seems to escape her -- as does the right of others to disagree with her.


  1. I have said on many Liberal blogs that most of them are not interested in a debate or dissenting opinion.
    They shut down debate with personal attacks and decry their view to be the only view that should be allowed. Somewhere along the way they forgot what is needed in a free and democratic society. Abortion, Man made Global warming, wealth redistribution through taxation..etc.

    They have boiled it down to us (evil right wing neo-con) vs them (smug self-righteousness).

  2. As it relates to abortion, the Liberals tolerate quiet dissent quite well.

    They're more than willing to accept anti-abortion MPs within their caucus -- until those MPs cost them a vote on an issue that is actually left-wing ideological boilerplate.


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