Paul Tuns:

On Jan. 26, Campaign Life Coalition held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court of Canada calling upon Parliament to pass a law protecting all human beings from the moment of fertilization and, if the federal legislature fails to do so for the Supreme Court to provide Charter protection to preborn children.

The press conference was held two days before the 35th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision in 1988, in which the Supreme Court threw out the existing abortion law which required women obtain the permission of therapeutic abortion committees that pro-life groups said often operated as rubber-stamp approvals for such requests. The Court held that the law was unconstitutional on procedural grounds and did not find a “right to abortion” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The five-justice majority said that the therapeutic abortion committee violated the “security of the person” under the Charter.

CLC national president Jeff Gunnarson read his letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before heading to the Office of the Prime Minister down Wellington Street to hand deliver it.

Gunnarson said, “January 28 marks 35 years since the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a decision that has impacted, and continues to impact, the lives of millions of Canadians,” noting the decision “threw out the previous 1969 abortion law, put in place by your father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.” Gunnarson reiterated, “The court established no right to abortion, a point acknowledged not only by legal professionals, but mainstream media,” noting that the CBC ran a story last year titled “Why Canada’s Roe v. Wade didn’t enshrine abortion as a right.”

Gunnarson said, “The Supreme Court justices did not want the Canada we live in today when it comes to abortion,” arguing “the court was unanimous in finding that the state has an interest in protecting the lives of humans in the womb” and that they encouraged Parliament to pass “reasonable limits” to abortion. Gunnarson noted that there are no limits today.

CLC said in its letter, the ruling “was rife with faults” and “effectively removed every obstacle barring pregnant mothers from obtaining an abortion” thus allowing “mothers to kill their preborn children at any stage during the pregnancy, for any reason at all.” Gunnarson said, “millions of Canadian mothers have chosen to destroy the new human lives growing and developing inside of them.”

Campaign Life Coalition is calling upon the Prime Minister and Parliament “to follow the invitation of the Supreme Court and pass legislation protecting children in the womb” and that “Such legislation must reflect what science and medical advancements reveal to us about life in the womb, namely, that it is a full human life” and “such legislation, if it is to truly remedy the current wrongs suffered by preborn humans, must restore their legal protection from the first moment of their existence.”

Before Gunnarson read the CLC Letter, Campagne Quebec Vie president Georges Buscemi, CLC director of political operations Jack Fonseca, and CLC director of education and advocacy Josie Luetke also spoke.

Buscemi read a comment prepared by CLC director of communications Pete Baklinski. Baklinski’s statement said there are “three main takeaways” from the Morgentaler decision: the Court “did not find a right to abortion,” the Court “did not settle the abortion question,” and it “invited Parliament to pass a new law balancing the rights of the mother with the state’s interest in protecting the life of the fetus.”

Fonseca said that “politicians of all stripes often repeat this claim which holds that women have a legitimate ‘right’ to kill their offspring, in-utero, and that any legislation whatsoever attempting to restore legal protection to the unborn would be struck down by the Supreme Court as an affront to the constitution.” Fonseca said, “If you read the actual Morgentaler ruling, what you discover is that they never found a ‘right’ to abortion.” He quoted Chief Justice Robert George Dickson, who wrote in the majority decision that struck down the 1969 abortion law: “I agree that protection of foetal interests by Parliament is also a valid governmental objective.”

Fonseca also quoted Justice Bertha Wilson – “the most pro-abortion of the seven judges” – who, writing a concurrence to the majority decision, said, “The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state’s interest in its protection becomes ‘compelling’ I leave to the informed judgment of the legislature.”

Fonseca said, “today we appeal to Justin Trudeau: please, listen to Bertha! To paraphrase her words, Mr. Trudeau, ‘Protection’ of life in the womb is something which the state of which you are the head has a ‘compelling’ interest.” Fonseca said that while Justice Wilson supported unencumbered first trimester abortion and thought the state could only protect preborn children in the second trimmest, “technology has developed to the point where it is now settled science that a child becomes a human being at the moment of conception” and “therefore, the arbitrary age line that Bertha drew is not morally supportable. Human rights begin when a human being begins. And that’s at conception.”

Luetke said, “by failing to extend human rights to all human beings, both justices and legislators have failed in their responsibilities – in the gravest, most spectacular way possible.” She explained that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Section 7 – the very section invoked by the Court’s majority to strike down the abortion law – states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.” Luetke noted that it “was argued in 1988 in the Borowski case, ‘everyone’ ought to be understood as including the preborn, as science and logic tell us with certainty that they’re human too,” emphasizing, “Typically, when you say ‘everyone,’ you mean ‘everyone’ – all human beings.

Luetke said, “We can neither selectively apply human rights to only some humans, nor misorder them,” and that “the right to life comes first” because “without it, all other rights we have – including to liberty and security of person – are rendered meaningless, moot.”

Luetke reiterated the points of Gunnarson’s letter, stating Parliament “must move to end abortion by recognizing personhood as beginning at fertilization” and in the absence of such protection from the legislators, “We call on the Supreme Court to deliver justice for the preborn at the earliest opportunity.”

Behind the speakers were youth holding signs with messages such as “Justin Trudeau: Preborn babies deserve the right to life” and “Morgenater = Canada’s shame.”