The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Board of Directors approved the following three paragraphs at its meeting on May 21, 1988:
- “Induced abortion is the active termination of a pregnancy prior to fetal viability. (Viability is understood to be the ability of the fetus to survive independently of the maternal environment. According to current medical knowledge, viability is dependent on fetal weight, degree of development and length of gestation; extra uterine viability may be possible with a fetal weight of over 500 grams and/or 20 weeks gestation).
- “Where the fetus has reached the stage of viability, termination of pregnancy may result in the delivery of a viable fetus. Elective termination of pregnancy after fetal viability may be indicated under exceptional circumstances.
- “Induced abortion is a procedure requiring medical and surgical expertise and is a medical act. The procedure should be performed only by a licensed physician with appropriate privileges in a facility that meets approved medical standards. This facility need not be a hospital.”
Comments on the above
“Induced abortion is the active termination of a pregnancy prior to fetal viability.” Abortion is more than that. As well s the termination of pregnancy, abortion is the deliberate killing of an unborn child. This may be achieved by various means which prevent implantation of the embryo:
- Use of morning after pill, use of ‘low dose’ pill, use of the new RU-486 pill, use of intrauterine device.
- Destruction of the unborn child by physical means: Dilation and Curretage, suction devices. Direct destruction of the fetus in later pregnancy, with vaginal evacuation of the uterus.
- Chemical destruction of the unborn child: induction of saline, causing saline burns.
- The removal of the unborn child from the uterus by means of Caesarian Section. The child is then abandoned and allowed to die.
The term “termination of pregnancy” is a euphemism for killing the unborn child. It is a bit like calling death “termination of nutrition” or “termination of the relationship between person and environment.” It is not a full description of the event but of one concomitant aspect of the event. In abortion, the essential fact is the deliberate killing of the unborn child.
It should be noted that it is not the only, or indeed the main, desire of the mother that the relationship should end. She intends in most cases that the child be destroyed. She does not want the child’s life maintained outside the uterus. She does not want to rear and educate, feed and house that child. She wants it done away with!
It is interesting that the CMA says that “termination of pregnancy after fetal viability may be indicated under exceptional circumstances.” Does this mean that in their minds it is rarely indicated? Does it indicate a qualm of conscience since the child could possibly survive? Does it indicate concern with the possible murder charges for the physician?
It should be noted that termination of pregnancy as defined by the CMA totally avoids the issue of the unjust killing of the innocent unborn child. Avoiding this issue, an issue of life and death, a profound issue of social justice, does not make the issue less real. The unborn child is alive, and is killed. It has as much right not to be unjustly killed as any other innocent person. Nothing can deprive the unborn of that right since that right is inherent. This right cannot be granted in law or charter – nor can it be removed by law or charter.
The CMA is giving its opinion on abortion, chooses to ignore the rights of the unborn child. It fails to give any justification for what is at least, an act of killing. The CMA shows itself in this statement to be morally blind and/or morally perverse.
- 1. “Induced abortion should not be used as an alternative to contraception.”
I agree. But then artificial contraception should not be used either. The natural means of achieving or avoiding pregnancy are the only truly safe and moral means. These methods are now sophisticated, well-established and effective.
- “Counselling services, family planning services and contraceptive information must be readily available to all Canadians.”
So-called contraceptive in formation refers frequently to abortifacient devices and medications. These cause moral problems for Catholic physicians and all those who agree with them.
- “That the provision of advice and information on family planning and human sexuality is a responsibility of practicing physicians; educational and health agencies must share this responsibility.”
These responsibilities should be carried out in a morally upright way.
- 4. “In the event of unwanted pregnancy, the patient should be provided with an opportunity to have full and immediate counseling services.”
Does “full” imply that they should be told of availability of abortion services and/or advised to have an abortion even if only as an option? Such counseling would be an immoral cooperation in abortion.
- 5. “No physician should be compelled to participate in the termination of a pregnancy.”
This is true. Since referral to a counseling agency which is known to counsel abortion amounts to a participation in an abortion. Policy No. 5 would contradict Policy No. 4 in such a case.
- 6. “No patient should be compelled to have a pregnancy terminated.”
True! It is sad that it has to be mentioned.
The Executive Committee as delegated by the Board of Directors has approved the following new recommendations for presentation to General Council:
- 1. The decision to perform an induced abortion is a medical one, made privately between the patient and her physician, within the confines of existing Canadian law, and is made after conscientious examination of all other options.
The decision is to deliberately kill the innocent as a means toward an end or as an end in itself. As such, it cannot be a medical decision. It is an act of deliberate violence and the killing of an innocent human being. The aim of medicine is to alleviate suffering and to cure, never to harm or to kill.
Abortion is also an antisocial act. Apart from killing the child, it harms the mother, the father, the siblings and society at large.
To abort is a decision with a moral dimension. It is an immoral act. Depending on the law of the land, it may be either a legal or an illegal act.
- 2. Abortion services should meet specific standards in counseling, informed choice, medical and surgical procedures, nursing care and follow-up care.
This could be likened to saying one should be counseled to choose one’s assassin with care. One should be informed on the costs and benefits of assassination, and of the medical and surgical procedures, nursing care and follow-up care available to one after one’s assassination is completed.
However, how many women seeking abortions are well-informed as to the humanity of their child, its present form and degree of development and its fundamental rights or about the post abortion problems that women frequently encounter?
- 3. Induced abortion is a medical service which should have uniform availability for women in Canada.
It is not a medical service. It is killing the innocent. No one is truly served by abortion.
- 4. Health care insurance should cover the costs of providing all medically required services relating to abortion, including counseling.
The only truly medical services relating to abortion are counseling not to have one, and the necessary medical or surgical help required by a person who has unfortunately had one.
- 5. No discrimination of any kind should be directed against doctors who provide abortion services.
This is a wrong. The law properly constituted, should contain appropriate penalties.
- 6. Since the risks of complications of induced abortions are lowest in early pregnancy, the early diagnosis of pregnancy and determination of appropriate management should be encouraged.
It does not matter at what age a person is killed, it is killing just the same.
The following policies of the CMA have not been changed.
- 1. Faced with a request for abortion, a physician whose moral or religious beliefs prevent him from recommending and/or performing this procedure should so inform the patient so that she may consult another physician.
A doctor should inform the patient. He should not cooperate to any degree in the wish of the patient to obtain an abortion from another physician. It is a physician’s duty to help a patient carry her baby to term, not to kill it.
- 2. No discrimination of any kind should be directed against doctors who do not intend to perform or assist at induced abortions. This function must be stressed particularly for doctors training in OB/GYN and anesthesia.
Of course not. But doesn’t this indicate a problem of conscience of the CMA? No one, for example, would suggest that doctors not perform an appendectomy when necessary.
The CMA has adopted a philosophy of moral relativism. It does not believe that to kill the innocent is always wrong. This thinking is incoherent and untenable. And it also ignores the divine commandment not to kill.
I urge the people of Canada and the CMA to consider the matter further, to reject such thinking, and to respect life, for the love of God and of all our people, sick and well, old and young, mature and immature.