Rod Bruinooge’s private member’s bill aimed to outlaw coercing an abortion should not have been controversial. Who, after all, could be against keeping women safe from threats that would force them to choose between their own safety and the life of the unborn child inside them? But apparently abortion supporters and defenders of the status quo cannot countenance any limit on abortion, even if that limit would protect a woman’s “right to choose.”

We have applauded Bruinooge’s initiative – both his courage for addressing abortion at all and raising the under-reported issue of coercion in abortion are

deserving of high praise – and relished watching so-called advocates of choice oppose a bill designed to protect women from being pressured into the choice of abortion. But as blogger Suzanne Fortin (at Big Blue Wave) wrote after the vote, the bill was too safe and therefore “failed to generate

any genuine excitement” and “didn’t whip up a lot of controversy.” She also accused Bruinooge and pro-lifers who supported this bill of operating “on our opponent’s premises– that of protecting women.” Pro-lifers cannot be blamed for attempting to reach out, as we are constantly advised by the media and politicians, to find common ground and debate issues related to abortion on terms acceptable in polite society. But the wisdom of that strategy can now be questioned.

Fortin suggested pro-life legislators introduce legislation that “goes to the heart” of the abortion issue that talks about what abortion is and how it affects the unborn child. She proposes that laws banning dilatation and evacuation (D&E) abortions and feticide be introduced next. Now that would generate controversy which would engender a discussion about abortion. Imagine a debate in the House of Commons or in the media about what a D&E actually entails: ripping off a baby’s limbs and then crushing his skull, usually in the second trimester (a time when most Canadians are uncomfortable with abortion) after the bones have ossified and suction curettage abortions are no longer possible. The debate would resemble the partial-birth abortion debates in the United States a decade ago, which forced the public to think about the brutality of abortion and the humanity of the unborn child.

Some might respond that if a mild, at-the-margin law premised on the friendliest terms (women’s rights) cannot be passed, how will a bill that is directly about abortion fare in Parliament? But that is the point: there is nothing to lose by being bolder and directly addressing the issue.