On January 31, 1991, just over three years since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the 1969 Trudeau law, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s attempt to re-legalize abortion on demand went down to a bizarre defeat in the Senate.
In many ways the tied vote 43 for, 43 against – was victory of pro-life Senator Stanley Haidasz who waged a one-man pro-life battle against Bill C043.
In early November, the Senator presented the Executive of the Senate Committee on abortions with the names of five pro-lifers who he wanted to testify on the immorality of abortion.
By mid-January the Committee had heard from a long list of pro-abortion groups, but from the pro-lifers only Campaign Quebec-Vie, Physicians for Life and Alliance for Life had been invited.
Due to the further efforts of Senator Haidasz, Campaign Life Coalition and REAL Women were able to make presentations on Thursday of the last week of hearings.  Finally, on the final day of hearings, Monday, January 21, the Associate Editor of The Interim, Father Alphonse de Valk, and Dr. Donald DeMarco, Professor of Philosophy at St. Jerome’s College in Waterloo, Ontario, were each allotted an hour.
Because the Committee had declined to authorize invitations to non-Canadians, The Interim’s editor himself made room for New York’s Dr. Bernard Nathanson on his panel of three.
No excuse
In his statement, Father de Valk warned that no excuse, including ignorance of the humanity of the unborn, can ever justify legalizing abortion in principle, let alone abortion on demand as in Bill C-43.
To emphasize his point, Father de Valk used as an example a statement made in Jerusalem in 1962 by the defence lawyer for Nazi mass murderer Adolf Eichmann.
In the hope that he could justify the genocidal behaviour of his client, the lawyer explained to the judges that Eichmann “could not be held responsible because no one ever told him killing Jews was wrong.”  At this point Fr. De Valk stated, “I have come here to prevent you, senators, from ever being able to make a similar excuse; the killing of the unborn is always wrong.”
The Basilian priest went on to say that a woman’s true interest can never conflict with the interest of her unborn child.  No abortion is ever done in the true interest of the mother.  Leaving no room for confusion, he added that abortion is “an assault on reason and human dignity” and “a sin against God.”
Human Life International President Sister Lucille Durocher, pro-life activist Margaret Mountain and U.S. pro-life spokesman Dr. Bernard Nathanson also testified.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson
After Fr. De Valk had spoken, Dr. Bernard Nathanson addressed the senators, denouncing Bill C-43 as a “fatally flawed” piece of legislation.  Dr. Nathanson, a well-known U.S. pro-lifer who was once an abortionist and American director of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), stated that C-43 was worded in such a vague manner that it would permit everything from abortions done in mobile vans, as is currently the case in Texas, to abortions performed by firemen or other non-medical personnel.
Legally enshrined
Dr. Nathanson drew much interest, including attention from the media, for his notion that within a few years technology will make abortions superfluous.  Abortions, he stated, should be forbidden.  But in case someone wants one, technology will be available to transfer the fetus from one mother to another.
Following the two oral presentations, some senators expressed their displeasure with what they’d heard.
Using an approach to abortion that has become very familiar in recent years, New Brunswick Senator L.N. Theriault, for example, stated that although he is a Catholic and “personally opposed to abortion,” he would vote for Bill C-43.  The poor, he thought, should have access to abortion to avoid having to go to quacks.  Moreover, without the bill, he said, Canada would have abortion on demand.
Father de Valk quickly corrected the senator, noting that with the passage of C-43 the current situation of abortion on demand would continue to exist but, significantly, it would then also be enshrined in law, having full legal sanction.
“The choice for you, senator,” he said, “is not between abortion on demand and fewer abortions, it is between abortion on demand (in lawlessness) and abortion on demand with the (formal) approval of society.”
Before C-43 was defeated in the upper chamber, the senators had heard from 38 individuals or groups, only four of which supported passage of the bill.  The four who wished to see C-43 become law were the Ministers of Justice and National Health and Welfare, Kim Campbell and Perrin Beatty, the Plymouth Brethren and the Law Reform Commission of Canada.
The pro-abortion position of the Ontario NDP government was in evidence with the appearance of Evelyn Gigantes, Ontario Minister of Health and Anne Swarbrick, Ontario Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.
Pro-life for the record
Although the hearings were obviously lopsided in favour of the anti-life side, pro-lifers managed to get their message across.
When future generations wish to know who spoke out against the abortion holocaust in Canada, the Senate public records will show the reasoned moral and  religious arguments of such pro-lifers as Professor Donald DeMarco and Senator Stanley Haidasz, who spoke out against the cynical intent of Bill C-43.  They will also read the following clear statement from Campaign Life Coalition:
Life is a continuum.  It is not measured in weeks, inches or pounds.  A human being exists and is alive from the moment of conception.  Abortion, at any time after conception, kills a developing human being.
The efforts of Senator Haidasz were not in vain.  With the exception of Allan MacEachen and Norbert Theriault, the Liberal Senators all voted against Bill C-43, mostly for partisan reasons.
Among them, however, pro-life B.C. Senator Ray Perrault spoke out vigorously against the proposed law and Manitoba pro-life Senator Gil Molgat, who was to be the speaker for that day (January 31), exchanged his seat in order to vote against the Bill.
Among the seven Conservatives who voted against C-43, five appear to have done so for pro-abortion reasons.  But the other two, Finlay MacDonald of Halifax and John MacDonald of Cape Breton, did so because they supported the pro-life stand.