Behind every legal fiction lies an ugly, brutal fact. The incoherent contradiction in Canadian law which maintains that life only begins at birth has allowed the silent slaughter of an untold number of nascent human lives; and, thus, for more than 40 years, unborn children in Canada have been extinguished behind the thin screen of a preposterous pretense. This contradiction has resulted in a predictable but unsustainable situation: like a virulent and dangerous contagion, the attitude towards human life that this lawful annihilation has nurtured cannot be contained by its enabling legal lie.

A terrifying statistical snapshot puts this case in point. LifesiteNews recently reported the findings of an intrepid pro-life investigator who, simply by using publicly available information, found that between 2000 and 2009, there were 491 abortions which resulted in “live births” – but not, of course, in human lives. In other words, hundreds of babies that miraculously survived attempted murder in the womb were born alive and left to die. The arbitrary assignment of “birth” as the moment at which – to borrow the ludicrous language of the Criminal Code – the “child becomes a human being” is powerless to impede the murderous purpose of the abortionist’s act. And, predictably, the child marked for death within the womb is not suddenly sacrosanct when a stomach’s wall no longer hides its humanity.

The Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova – writing of Pilate and Macbeth but thinking of Joseph Stalin – hauntingly observed: “We have learned forever/ That blood smells only of blood.” Its unmistakable smell now pervades Canadian Law: nothing conceals its stench, and neither finger bowl nor solvent removes its incriminating mark. The legal toleration of prenatal infanticide has allowed the obscene ancient practice of infant exposure to reappear in the modern world – and without consequences of any kind. We can be sure that this is where barbarism begins; but where it will end, we cannot say.