“Western society is at a crossroads: the crossroads of civilization, and a technological scientism in which people may be produced in glass tubes. It is a time of family versus the State; the individual versus big business and is about; the helpless versus the powerful; the right of choice. It is a ‘crucial state’ history and you, [the pro-life movement] are making a difference.
Picketers at Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary, the volunteers across this country who lick stamps , stuff envelops, and staff booths, the speakers, and host of other pro-life workers, know the truth of these words I their heart of hearts. Nevertheless, they have particular and added value when they are spoken by someone ‘outside’ the often discouraging work-a-day work of the pro-life movement. Ted Byfield is such a person and his words were warmly greeted by more than 200 people who attend the Selkirk and Area League for Life Annual Dinner, March 20th.
Ted Byfield is co-owner of Inter-West Publications. He is the founder of Alberta Report and more recently a publication titled Western Report. ‘he holds the tenuous honour of being the token conservative on CBC ‘Morningside’ programme, hosted by Peter Gzowski.
His message was one of encouragement to pro-lifers, to intensify their efforts to shape society’s “moral convictions” concerning abortion. “We can no longer allow opposition to abortion be seen simply as our view, any more than murder or theft is simply our view.” He began by tracing the roots of society’s present crisis.
During the mid 50s through the 60s, the emphasis, Byfield stated, was on freedom. “Freedom from war(s), freedom from duty . . . from work, . . . from worry, . . . from retribution, and freedom from taboos, particularly sexual taboos.” These freedoms had a price. While it was viewed as an idyllic time with no war, “it was also the time in which Africa, Cuba and parts of South America were lost to Communism.” Love was viewed as replacement for fidelity, as long as you were in love anything was okay. Although much was unpleasantness was taken out of work, with shorter hours, better wages and working conditions, “at the same time productivity declined; Canada is now viewed as a second rate nation in productivity. Worry was taken over by government through the creation of a deficit. This deficit, which must be paid, is now our legacy to future generations.” Freedom from duties resulted in broken marriages, homes, abortion and violence. “The era which produced all these freedoms is now viewed as a disaster.’ However, out of this disaster, in which hundreds of thousands of people have been “therapeutically terminated,” has emerged the pro-life movement. “You are converting the world. You are winning!”
Today we are “seeing a profound reversal” of the values of the 60s, Byfield believes. Ontario is reinstating departmental exams in which there are real standards of pass or fail. There is a return to respect for work because there is not enough to go round, jobs are hard to get. “Most encouraging,” says Byfield, “is a return to permanent values.”
He quoted from a recent survey conducted by the Toronto Star in which 87 per cent of those between the ages o 24-40 said the most important values are, “home, wife or husband, children and good friends. Money and sex didn’t even figure in the highest values.” The survey also indicated that 52 per cent of married couples were opposed to abortion. ‘That means,” Byfield added, “that you are more than halfway there.” There has also been a return to the ‘idea of judgment,” in other words there are consequences to what we do. “Nothing has brought this home more forcefully than AIDS. It is now recognized that a misadventure, of as much as 14 years earlier, can have consequences.” This is the “ugly reality” people now understand. “AIDS may do more to solve the abortion problem than anything else because people realize once again, that casual sex has consequences.”
During the 70s the “rational side of the abortion issue was resolved,” Byfield went on. Genetics and embryology have settled the matter of when human life begins; it begins at the moment of conception. Now, according to Byfield, the most important battle remains. “It is not strictly a political battle because politicians do not lead, they follow. The important battle is for the hearts and minds of men and women. Where we really have to win,” he said, “is in persuading our neighbours, those at the office and most of all our children, that abortion is revolting to the point of being unspeakable. When we have done this, then the politicians will trip over themselves to condemn abortion.” Moral convictions and attitudes are developed, he insisted, and this is the big task facing the pro-life movement.
To make this point he cited issues such as smoking and littering. Twenty years ago most people smoked; today it is a much smaller number because smokers are be ostracized by society. Smoking is becoming increasingly offensive. Similarly, littering is now viewed as unacceptable because of growing concern with our environment. He told the story of a girl who was on her way to get an abortion. Her boyfriend was driving and after munching some potato chips, he tossed the empty bag out the car window. You shouldn’t do that, the girl said. It’s wrong to litter; you can be fined. We can learn from these issues Byfield said. We have to develop similar convictions about abortion. We have to be genuinely shocked and appalled by the violence and destruction of abortion. We have to communicate this shock and disgust to everyone around us. In this way we will develop the moral conviction that abortion is an unspeakable crime.
Every dollar put into the pro-life effort, every demonstration taken part in is now changing at least one person’s mind about the issue, Byfield reminded the audience. He concluded with the remark that, “the pro-life movement, judged either by God or history, will make a difference.”