On February 16,1985 the Toronto Star reported the proposal of the present Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Rev. Alex Calder, to tighten the abortion law in order to permit abortions only where there is “imminent threat to the mother’s life.” ( See The Interim, April 1985). One month later, on March 16, the same newspaper, on its Saturday religion page, printed and boxed a letter from Gerald Vandezande, Public Affairs Director, Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).


CPJ describes itself as a Christian political organization. Its members are principally from a Dutch Calvinist/Presbyterian background. CPJ’s main task over a period of years has been to work for social justice of the economic/political variety.


In his March 16 letter (headed “Stick to the middle path in abortion issue”), Mr. Vandezande presents himself as “pro-life,” claims to agree with the Moderator, and denounces “the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human life at any stage of its development.” Having made this point, he then invites all faith communities to go “beyond a narrow, anti-abortion stance” and consider “broad positive action.”


Neither should have their way?


On reading further, one discovers that Mr. Vandezande really doesn’t agree with the Moderator at all. “Broad positive action” is explained as meaning that abortions should continue for threats “to life and health” (with “clear definitions”- undefined by Mr. Vandezande.) Furthermore, TACs (therapeutic abortion committees) should be broadened, strengthened and given resources, the latter in order to help those not interested in abortions. He believes that this will overcome our present “polarization.” The author concludes: “One thing is clear: In our pluralistic society, neither the extreme pro-abortion nor the extreme anti-abortion factions should have it their individualistic, majoritarian or moralistic way!”


All this makes clear that Mr. Vandezande has little use for the “regular” pro-life movement, that is, those who believe that all deliberate killing of the unborn and not just the killing of some of them, is to be rejected.


What churches should be doing?


Another report, this one from the March 22 edition of the Edmonton Journal about Mr. Vandezande’s recent visit to that city is headed, “Pro-lifer blames his side in brawls.” This news article reports that Mr. Vandezande believes “the pro-life movement is largely responsible for the violence and tension in Canada over abortion;” that “without the Toronto police, open warfare would have broken out by now between abortion adversaries;” that the pro-life movement is marked by “its failure to generate concrete solutions,” that he (Vandezande) has “yet to meet anyone in Canada who wants to have an abortion;” and that “Morgentaler is conscientious in his belief that he is helping women.”


The rest of the report is devoted to Mr. Vandezande’s views of what the churches should be doing and, according to him, are not now doing.