Doris Anderson, newly-appointed columnist for the Toronto Star, wants her readers’ views on abortion – and she promises to print the letters.

Anderson’s February 18 column was headed, “We will publish your opinions on abortion.”  If she is seriously soliciting the views of the public, it would be a shame not to respond. The address is:  Doris Anderson, Life Section, Toronto Star, One Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M5E1E6.

Specifically, Ms. Anderson “would like to know where Canadians stand” on two questions:

(a) Do you think that the abortion decision should rest with the woman concerned in consultation with her doctor?

(b) Since fewer than 25 per cent of public general hospitals in Canada provide abortions, do you support the establishment of specializing clinics where early abortions can be provided?

Evidently spurred to write the column by the recent pro-life protest to advertisers in Homemaker’s magazine, Ms. Anderson related some of her experience as editor of Chatelaine magazine.

In 1960, she writes, abortion was only available if the mother “could prove she faced certain death should the pregnancy continue.” Ms. Anderson ran an article at that time suggesting the legalization of abortion in cases of rape incest or gross deformity or defect in the baby. Yes, she does state “baby” and not “fetus.”

The response was immediate and it may be inferred from her present column, was predominantly pro-life. She says her position is that of “reasonable people” and says the pro-life reaction was “organized and relentless.”

One of the commonplaces of the pro-abortion rhetoric is that the pro-life movement is a relentless big bucks machine manipulated by a small elite group of powerful people. By contrast the pro-abortionists are all amateurs (no big organization or subsidies), innocent with open and inquiring minds. Ms. Anderson rehearsed some of these bromides for the readers of the Star as she switched her attention to the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League’s (CARAL) attempt to get a question into the Gallup poll last fall.

In the interest, perhaps of preserving her pose of unbiased, reasonable, enquiring journalists, Ms. Anderson neglects to mention her own prominent involvement in CARAL over the years.

The Gallup organization turned down CARAL’s request, on the grounds that the questions were too controversial. They are the same questions that Anderson is asking now informally through the Star. The first question (question a above), is the same question asked by CARAL through Gallup in June 1982. She does not make it clear in her column as to why they wished to ask the same question again.

According to Ms. Anderson, Gallup is under “constant pressure to run questions from pro-life groups. The Gallup spokesman, quoted by  Anderson, “admitted these questions generally took some form of, “Are you in favour of killing of babies?”

The Interim checked with both Laura McArthur, president  of the Toronto Right to Life Association and Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life Canada. Mrs. McArthur and Mr. Hughes both confirm that neither of  their organizations has ever requested questions inserted in the Gallup polls, they also have no knowledge of any other pro-life groups who have attempted to do so.

Doris Anderson says she wants to know where Canadians stand on the questions of whether abortion is a private matter between the woman and her doctor, and whether we support the establishment of abortion clinics. We hope you will let her know where you stand.