Abortion advocate asks pro-lifers to stop doubting their lies

Ongoing attempts to defund abortion – heavily based on the premise that it is not a medically necessary procedure – appear to have hit a raw nerve with the Canadian pro-abortion movement.

Joyce Arthur, director of the B.C.-based Pro-Choice Action Network, has written letters to MP Jason Kenney, Report newsmagazine and The Interim, castigating them for what she sees as a misinterpretation of the pro-abortionists’ position on the medical necessity of abortions.

“You have repeatedly stated that the pro-choice movement has ‘admitted’ that abortions are not medically necessary,” wrote Arthur. “This is untrue … Regardless of reason, all abortions must be considered medically necessary and be fully funded under the Canada Health Act.”

Arthur’s letter comes in the wake of an appearance by Marilyn Wilson, executive director of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, before a House of Commons finance committee meeting last October.

At that meeting, Wilson stated that women who seek abortions “do so for socio-economic reasons. Sometimes, it is a desire to complete their education and become financially independent. (In) many cases, couples with children wish to restrict their family size in order to provide adequate financial support. Often, choosing abortion is a conscious decision not to become a socio-economic burden on society.”

Thosecomments prompted Kenney, the official opposition finance critic at the time, to immediately issue a press release charging that CARAL had “blown the cover off its argument that provinces must finance a procedure which is not done for medical reasons.” He also said that CARAL was engaging in “circular reasoning (that) is patently ridiculous … they don’t have a leg to stand on.”

Despite this, Arthur, in her letter to Kenney, added that her organization trusts it “will no longer hear the false claim from you, your colleagues, or the anti-abortion press, that the pro-choice movement ‘admits’ that abortion is not medically necessary.”

An attached copy of her organization’s newsletter, Pro-Choice Press, posited six “reasons” why abortion is medically necessary, including: access to abortion is a constitutional right; abortion is time-sensitive; women’s lives and health are stake; pregnancy outcomes are inescapable; “choice” rhetoric is inappropriate; and unwanted pregnancies are costly.

But all three recipients said Arthur’s letter would not change their perspective on the issue, or their reporting.

“I don’t understand why this person, Joyce Arthur, speaks on behalf of CARAL and Marilyn Wilson when they’re two separate organizations and two separate people,” said Kenney. “If Miss Wilson disagrees with the inferences I’ve drawn from her testimony to the finance committee, then she should be writing to me and not someone else.”

Kenney added that he was careful not to misquote or misconstrue what Wilson had said at the meeting regarding why abortions are committed. “She did not say for health reasons. She did not say for medical reasons … She said they’re performed for socio-economic reasons. In other words, she told the truth.”

He charged that the pro-abortion movement is trying to “have it both ways” by saying on the one hand, that abortion is simply a free choice that should be freely exercised regardless of reason, and on the other, by claiming it is always medically necessary. “This letter just points to one of the most basic contradictions at the heart of the pro-abortion argument.”

“I think I drew an extremely reasonable inference from her assertion,” he added. “So they’re just being hoisted on their own petard here.”

Kenney said quite apart from taking Arthur’s advice, he will continue informing his Alliance and parliamentary colleagues about CARAL’s own statements – that abortions are committed for socio-economic reasons and therefore, provincial healthcare plans ought not feel obligated to pay for them in such cases. He also said he will respond to Arthur’s letter, “but not right away.”

Link Byfield, editor and publisher of Report newsmagazine, said his publication was also not guilty of misconstruing Wilson’s remarks to the finance committee. “I was quite unimpressed with (Arthur’s) letter … As I recall, she said, ‘Please don’t say this again, that this woman said this thing.’ I have every intention of saying it again, and nothing in her letter demonstrates that we’re wrong to say it. I don’t find it helpful to her cause.”

Like Kenney, Byfield charged the pro-abortion movement with using a “circular logic” that decrees “abortions are funded if they’re medically necessary, and all abortions are medically necessary because they’re funded. That’s the usual tautology.”

He added that although he appreciates Arthur making her point of view known, he probably won’t bother responding. “I think it’s certainly evidence that Jason Kenney’s point hit home and caused them some political discomfort, that she should respond that way. So that’s, I suppose, encouraging.”

Interim editor-in-chief Paul Tuns said his publication is in the business of reporting the facts, and so Arthur’s letter won’t have an influence on how the paper reports the abortion issue.

“I think Marilyn Wilson’s comments confirmed what we knew all along … They may regret their moment of candour, but we’re not going to oblige them by covering up what they would prefer the country not know – abortions are not medically necessary, and most women have them for socio-economic reasons … It’s a matter of parliamentary record, and we’ll continue reporting that.”

Tuns added that he’ll be responding with a letter thanking Arthur for her attention to the issue, while adding that her arguments are unpersuasive. “They’re making the claim that abortions are medically necessary, but they never show the link. It’s really become tiresome and shows how desperate they are.”

For her part, Arthur told The Interim that all abortions are medically necessary, regardless of reason. “There really isn’t a lot of debate about it, except from the anti-abortion movement … It’s a constitutional right. Do you think that childbirth is medically necessary? Do you think childbirth should not be funded then, that women should have to pay the cost of childbirth at a hospital? Is having a baby a socio-economic choice as well?”

When told that all three recipients of the letter had rejected her lines of reasoning, Arthur charged that it was “irresponsible” for them to hold that position. “Basically what they’ve been saying … is that the pro-choice movement has ‘admitted’ that abortions are medically unnecessary when, of course, there’s never been any such thing. So, in a sense, that is a misquote, and a misunderstanding of our position.”

She added that the statements and reporting of Kenney, Report and The Interim “undermines the reputation of the (pro-abortion) movement and the work that we do for doctors. In a way, it’s a sort of defamation.”