Michel Arsenault of Life Savers, Moncton, N.B., stated the defeat “was rather nice.”  The bill would have allowed abortions on demand.  “Now we can work towards a law that really will protect both mother and unborn child.”  (The Times-Transcript)
Bernard Currie, President of the Kitchener Right to Life, said there will be “mixed reactions…Some of our members have not been pleased with the bill because there was not sufficient protection…, while others of us would have liked to see the bill become law as a starting point.”  (Kitchener-Waterloo Record)
Mary Ellen Douglas, President of the Kingston and Ontario Campaign Life coalition:  “We can begin again fighting to get legislation that protects the unborn child.  The (proposed) legislation wouldn’t have saved the life of even one unborn baby.”  The current situation is “a state of lawlessness and we aren’t giving up the fight.”  (Whig-Standard, Kingston)
Cecelia Forsyth, President of Saskatoon Pro-Life:  “There’s a sense of relief…It’s much more difficult to change a bad law than to introduce a good law.  We’re working for a good law.”  (Saskatoon Star Phoenix)
Ted Gerk, Vice-president, British Columbia Pro-Life:  “Every pro-lifer will be finding out the position of each candidate on the issue…We will make sure that people know a vote for the NDP is a vote for abortion on demand and fully-funded abortion clinics throughout the province – like Ontario.”  (Vancouver Sun)
George Gilmore, Newcastle, N.B., President of New Brunswick Right to Life Association:  “Pro-life groups are now in a position to renew pressure for much stronger legislative controls on abortion.  This is going to be a continual embarrassment to the government, having Canada as virtually the only nation in the Western world to have open season on the unborn.”  (The Telegraph-Journal)
“If this bill had been accepted,” said Gilles Grondin, of Campagne Vie, Montreal, “It would have given the green light for the death of thousands of little Canadian babies.  Now we have a much better chance of obtaining a much less permissive law.”  (Le Devoir)
Betty Green, President of Right to Life, Vancouver, was pleased with the bill’s defeat:  “Now we have the opportunity to pursue protection for the unborn in the courts and through private members’ bills.”  (B.C. Catholic)
John Hof, Vice-President of Campaign Life British Columbia, said he was “invigorated” the bill was voted down.  “The bill wasn’t strong enough, that’s why it was defeated.” (Vancouver Sun)
Jim Hughes, national President of Campaign Life Coalition:  “The defeat of Bill C-43 means that the work of winning legal protection for the unborn begins fresh today.” (Kingston Wig-Standard)
Ingrid Krueger, assistant director, Alliance for Life, Winnipeg:  “We think that the defeat of Bill C-43 means that senators are recognizing its inadequacy in protecting the unborn child.”  (The Catholic Register)
Andre LaFrance, M.D.:  the proposed law “would have done absolutely nothing to prevent even a single abortion.”  (Ottawa Citizen)
Valerie Lengert, chairman of the Victoria Pro-Life Society wants work started on a new bill.  “My hope is they will provide better protection to the unborn from the moment of conception.”  (Edmonton Journal)
Gerard Liston, anti-abortion activist of Edmonton, stated that pro-lifers lobbied to kill the bill because “it didn’t grant full protection to the unborn from the moment of conception.”  (Edmonton Journal)
Karen Murawski, Ottawa spokesman for Campaign Life coalition, said:  “We’re relieved that it’s gone because we think it was a sham, that it gave an aura of legality and respectability to abortion which we don’t believe it should have.”  (Montreal Gazette)
Bernadette Mysko, Saskatoon, President of Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association:  “The bill did not go far enough…[but]…it would have been better than no legislation at all, but since it has been defeated, the pro-life movement should try to convince the province to limit access to the service.”  (Regina Leader-Post)
Michael O’Malley, spokesman for Campaign Life Calgary:  “We have always opposed this law because it approved of abortion in principle.”  Mr. O’Malley added:  “We still have an open struggle for the minds and hearts of Canadians.  Maybe that’s better.”  (Calgary Herald)
Sue Rodgerson of Family Forum, Hamilton, Ontario:  “Mr. Mulroney will never, ever be re-elected.”  (Hamilton Spectator)
Philomena Rogers, President of the St. John’s Right to Life Association said she was “happy to see the end of the bill.  Ever since it was introduced in the Commons over a year ago we’ve been calling for its defeat because the bill was intended to give approval for our children to be aborted.”  (The Evening Telegraph)
June Scandiffio, President of the Toronto Right to Life Association:  “The abortion issue would have presumed that something had been done to protect the unborn and distressed mothers when in fact nothing had been done.”  (Toronto Star)
Dr. Philip Shea, Hamilton Physicians for Life:  “I think we’ll go back to square one, where we’ll apply pressure and education to pass a law for the protection of the unborn.”  (Hamilton Spectator)
Anneliese Steden, spokeswoman for Cambridge (Ontario) Right to Life, said that organization was “hoping” Bill C-43 would be defeated because it was “paraded as a pro-life bill when it wasn’t.  In our opinion we would be better off without a law and try to get a better law in the future,” she stated.
Both Ann Marie Tomlins, of Positive Options for Women (POW) and Cynthia Haughn, of Campaign Life Coalition Nova Scotia, said they still want a law against abortion.  “We will start right now, today, afresh” fighting for the criminalization of abortion, Mrs. Haughn said.  (The Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
Irene Vanderveen, past-president Edmonton Pro-life Society:  I am “really glad the bill was defeated.  It gives us a chance to draft a good law.”  (Western Report)
Church papers
No victory if Bill has been accepted.
Father Vincent Hawkswell, editor of the B.C. Catholic noted in a front-page story, “Bill C-43 defeated, “that pro-life Senator Ray Perrault “begged his fellow senators to give life a chance” and that “there would have been no victory for the unborn whichever way the vote had gone.”
Lament for a nation
“Bill C-43 was…a weak effort,” lamented the Catholic New Times, but much better than nothing – to keep abortion within the criminal code.”  “Good people working against each other…Let us weep for our country.  Then let us pray for civic light….”
The issue is still alive
The Catholic Register (February 16), lauded the efforts of Senators Stanley Haidasz and Raymond Perrault “in seeking to defeat the bill as it was worse than useless in protecting human life.”  It recalled that its own earlier judgment that “Bill C-43 provides as much protection for the preborn baby as a screen door on a submarine.”
It took issue with pro-abortion professor Bernard Dickens who had stated that now “the abortion controversy will gradually fade away.”  Concluded the Register, “Want to bet on that?”
The Messenger attacks pro-life
Editor, Andrew Britz of Saskatchewan’s Catholic weekly, Prairie Messenger, praises Bishop Robert Lebel, both for his view on Bill C-43 and for his intention to plan “the development of a comprehensive pro-life ethic.”
In Climate of violence he accuses the pro-life movement of seeking a “shorter easier procedure.”
“Rather than undertaking the sensitive work of persuasion, the changing of people’s minds and hearts, they run rough-shod over people’s feelings and issue bold personal condemnations.  And politics, for them, has one goal: the embodiment of such condemnations in law.”
“Just as the violence of war cannot create peace,” he concluded, “so the violence of pro-life tactics that do not respect the dignity of those of a different mindset cannot create or save human life and dignity.”
New strategy needed.
Independent, Victoria-based Catholic monthly, The Trumpet argued for a two-pronged attack – one provincial, the other federal.  The provincial attack should take seriously recent pronouncements that abortion is now under provincial jurisdiction as a health matter.  The federal approach should concentrate on changing Criminal Code Section 223 which defines a human being in Canadian law.
Could have been first step in eliminating abortion.
Editor Glen Argan of the Western Catholic Reporter noted that the proposed law would not have halted the flood of abortions in Canada.  “Nevertheless, he thought that Bill C-43 “likely would have reduced the number of abortions, “that “one can expect public acceptance of abortion to grow…(which) could have been averted, or at least held back, if the proposed law had come into being,” and that the bill “could have been the first step toward eliminating abortion in Canada.”
Church people
Rev. Ken Campbell, President of Choose Life Canada:  “We oppose the bill because it sought to institutionalize the killing of the innocent preborn.  It’s better to have no bill at all.”   (Toronto Star)
Bishop Robert Lebel, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) expressed “deep regret” at the absence of a bill after three years.  While “seriously flawed,” he stated, C-43 would have been better than a “legislative vacuum” and would have confirmed that abortion is a matter of m\public morality and a criminal offence.
“We urge the government to introduce immediately a bill that will provide effective protection for the life of the unborn.” He stated.  (Ottawa Citizen)
Phyllis McIntomny, president, Catholic Women’s League of Ontario:  “It was a trick bill.  It pretended to please all members of society but bitterly failed to protect the victim of abortion – the unborn child.”  (Catholic Register)
Brian Stiller, Executive Director, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada:  “The tragedy is that two forms of fundamentalism combined to defeat the bill: secular fundamentalism which calls for the rule of the jungle with no law, and religious fundamentalism which calls for rule only by law.”  (Catholic New Times)
Gerald VandeZande, Citizens for Public Justice, and sometime advisor to the Catholic bishops:  Bill C-43 “was a half-decent law.”  Now “there will be arbitrary decisions.  There will be no legislation to encourage respect for life.  Had it become law, they could have launched positive initiatives to persuade our politicians to pass life-affirming amendments…”  (Catholic New Times)
Rev. Jean Ward, program consultant for family ministries and spokesperson for the United Church of Canada:  “the government should heed the criticism of the bill and not introduce further criminal legislation on abortion.”  (Toronto Star)
In our opinion…
The strongest opponents of Bill C-43 – among those who oppose abortion in general – are those most knowledgeable about abortion as a political and legal issue, both current and in the past.
A general sense of permissiveness was firmly fixed in people’s minds by the first abortion law because it went on to show how criminal acts could be done with the sanction of the law of the land.  How much more would this have been the case with Bill C-43, which aimed at abortion on demand for any stage of pregnancy.
Newspaper editorials
“Saved by the Senate”
The Calgary Herald thought the Senate had done Canada a favour.  “In spite of every federal politician in the land being given their head to vote as they saw fit,” “a consensus was unattainable.”
“Still no law on abortion”
The defeat of the abortion bill, said Fredericton’s The Daily Gleaner, “leaves Canada as one of the few countries in the world that does not have a law to offer protection to unborn children…an unfortunate situation.”  Mr. Mulroney should have listened to the Supreme Court and the Law Reform Commission, the editor said.
“No law for abortion”
The Edmonton Journal editorial “No law for abortion” noted that “the bill faltered because there is no middle ground between a woman’s right to reproductive choice and absolute protection of the fetus from conception.”  That means, it stated, that “the provinces must now ensure that all women have equal access to a legal medical procedure.”
“Canadians who believe in reproductive choice could be well advised to begin a campaign to prevent all unwanted pregnancies with the new methods of safe, reliable contraception,” the writer concluded.
“Unelected Senate exercises veto”
The main concern of the Globe and Mail was that an unelected Senate exercised a veto over a decision of the elected House of Commons.
Contrary to Justice Minister Kim Campbell’s observation that “Parliament has now spoken…the democratic process has functioned,” the newspaper declared the process to have been “anything but democratic.”
As for Bill C-43, the Globe surmised that the effect of its defeat “will probably not be great;” it “will not end the deeply felt controversy.”  It noted that groups such as the Canadian Medical Association may have been wrong in not understanding that Bill C-43 would have protected doctors performing abortions.
“Defeat of bill good for Ottawa”
Charlottetown’s The Guardian noted that the tie vote “once again allows Ottawa to wash its hands of the issue…Cynics can be forgiven for thinking the whole thing was orchestrated,” it concluded.
“Flawed compromise fails”
In “A flawed compromise fails” the Halifax Chronicle Herald took the position that abortion “is a health matter.”
“The Bill’s basic mistake was trying to define abortion as both a medical act and a crime,” it stated.
Instead, the compromise should have been clearer, the editor stated.  Canada should have adopted the ‘gestational’ approach adopted by the U.S. courts.  “That is, recognize a woman’s right to choice early in pregnancy – when almost all abortions are performed – but add restrictions to protect the fetus as it develops.”
“Government an accomplice in the death of the bill”
“Aborted by neglect” bannered the editorial of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.  “The demise of the abortion bill is a victory for extremism on both sides of the issue.  Despite the fact that a majority of Canadians want access to abortion within specific legal limits, the compromise bill has been killed on the floor of the Senate.”
“The Mulroney government is an accomplice in the death of the bill,” the writer stated, principally because it refused to allay the fears of doctors.  “By offering no guarantees, the government sowed the defeat that was harvested in the Senate.”
“Up to the provinces”
La Presse of Montreal forecast a renewal of demonstrations at abortion ‘clinics.’  If abortion on demand in Quebec has legislative blessing, wrote Claudette Tougas, the situation is very different elsewhere.   Bill C-43 would have ensured more access.  With C-43 defeated, it is now up to the provinces, health being a provincial jurisdiction.  Democracy has had the last word, she concluded.
“Time to drop it”
The London Free Press felt it was “Time to drop attempts at abortion legislation.”
New efforts will be justified, it stated, “only of some time in the future, public attitudes were to shift dramatically towards…protecting the fetus.”
The editorial acknowledged that Bill C43 “would have returned abortion to the Criminal Code, but under loosely defined circumstances which would have likely made prosecution rare.”
Having implicitly acknowledged that Bill C-43 provided no protection, the writer went on to say that “lamentably, the outcome (emphasis ours) leaves unborn children unprotected.”
“Abortion stays in legal limbo”
“The defeat of the bill is nothing to cheer about,” said the Montreal Gazette.
“It’s defeat practically guarantees more divisiveness, more hostile confrontations in the courts and in the streets, and probably more difficulties for women seeking abortions.”
“The compromise bill,” said the Gazette, “…was regrettably silent, for example, on fetal rights,” but then added: “The bill clearly represented the vast middle ground – the people who are not categorically for abortion, or against it, but who see a need for a legal framework that takes some account of the child in the womb.  Sooner or later a government is going to have to produce a fair and effective abortion bill, and when if does, the bill will probably look a lot like the one this Parliament has just defeated.”
“Right move by wrong house”
Like the Globe and Mail and some other papers, the Ottawa Citizen did not regret the defeat itself, but only the manner in which an unelected Senate thwarted the wishes of elected MPs.  This, said the editor in “Right move by the wrong House,” was setting “a dangerous precedent.”
“Birth Notice”
The Ottawa Sun also thought Bill C-43 “a reasonable law.”  It blamed the “extreme ‘pros and antis’” for its defeat, unaware, apparently, that the only ‘pros’ for this Bill was the government that introduced it.
The paper reiterated its desire for a law that “would allow virtually free abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy, with increasing restrictions thereafter.  It concluded with the puzzling observation that the defeat of Bill C-43 “forces all of us to shoulder responsibility for moral decision making.”  It declared this to be “not a bad thing.”
“No end in sight”
The Peterborough Examiner titled its verdict “No end in sight,” thereby pointing out its conclusion that Bill C-43’s demise “guarantees that the abortion battle will be joined again.”
“Bad bill deserved defeat”
The Toronto Star decided that the “bad abortion bill deserved defeat.”  Canada’s largest daily carried on the time-worn ideological line expressed in some 18 editorials in 1990, namely that Bill C-43 “was an unnecessary law that questioned the ability to make responsible decisions in consultation with the Supreme Court’s 1988 ruling.”
The government’s promise not to introduce another law is “sensible,” the editors said, “but both federal and provincial governments must move to redress the unequal access by women to safe and timely abortions in different parts of the country.”
“Abortion Maze”
The Toronto Sun stayed with the idea that Bill C-43 was a “compromise” bill, providing “some protection for the unborn while recognizing that abortion is a deeply personal matter for women.”
After a series of confusing and contradictory thoughts, the editorial forecast that “abortion will likely again become a major election issue two or three years from now.”
“A wise decision”
The Vancouver Sun said the defeat of the bill was a victory for common  sense.  “Abortion will remain, as in our opinion it should, strictly a private matter between a woman and her doctor.”
Provincial governments should not restrict abortions in any way.  “In fact, it makes sense to encourage use of the private clinics…they can provide safer abortions at an earlier stage of pregnancy.  And they can help free overtaxed hospital facilities,” the editors suggested.
“Unsuccessful compromise”
The Winnipeg Free Press saw the abortion issue as much ado about nothing.  Its editorial conjectured that if the Senate did a favour to doctors and women, it might have shot itself in the foot.
To be without a law on abortion has not caused any difficulties, they said, and “what is not broken does not need to be fixed.”  As for the Senate, it once again has drawn attention to the extraordinary power the unelected few can exercise and a democratic country will tolerate only so much of that.”
“The Commons: A clear responsibility”
The Winsor Star demanded that the government not dodge its responsibility to impose restrictions.
“Bill C-43,” the editor wrote, “was a timid piece of legislation that tried to skirt virtually all of the volatile questions associated with abortion (including)…the issue of fetal rights.”
In polls the majority of Canadians have said “it was crucial that any law define when a fetus becomes a human being, and at what point in a pregnancy abortions should be outlawed.  It’s Parliament’s responsibility to define it…”
•    These editorials show the tremendous success of the Mulroney government in hijacking and falsifying the issue.  Even now many editors still assumed that Bill C-43 was a ‘compromise’ piece of legislation and that somehow, somewhere there was some protection for the unborn.
•    For almost three years, newspaper editors maintained that Bill C-43 (and earlier version of it) represented a ‘true compromise law’.  On the morning of its defeat, however, they suddenly discover that “hypocrisy” was its “very essence.” (Edmonton Journal)
•    Not a single editorial faced the fact that ‘choice’ or ‘reproductive choice’ means the killing of a child in the womb.
•    Almost every editorial had serious internal contradictions.  So, for example, the Montreal Gazette asserts that the bill said nothing about fetal rights (correct).  But this contradicts a second assertion further on that the bill represented the vast middle ground of people who want some defence of the ‘fetus’.
•    The illogic of most editorials is frightening.  It underpins the conviction of many pro-lifers (acquired by experience) that rational explanations have a place, but that the issue will not be resolved through dialogue and academic debates.  Furthermore, it is frightening to think that the constitutional debate of Canada is in the hands of these opinion makers.  It leaves little hope that reason will prevail.
What the politicians said
Perrin Beatty, Federal Health and Welfare Minister, declared he was disappointed.  “It’s very difficult to see how you could design legislation which would be more likely to command a majority than the legislation that was put before the House,” he said.
Kim Campbell, Federal Justice Minister, “Parliament has now spoken on the issue…The democratic process has functioned.”
Senator Stanley Haidasz (Liberal): “I am very happy because it was a bad bill.”  The government must bring in a new bill to control abortion.  If it fails to do so, said the senator, it is abdicating its responsibility.
Howard Hampton, Ontario’s Attorney-General, said in a CP interview that he expected the absence of a federal law to spark more protests at clinics.  The province, he said, may seek injunctions to limit protests or charge people with trespassing.
Elaine McCoy, Alberta’s Minister for Women’s Issues, thought access to abortion should now improve (because doctors won’t be afraid of criminal prosecution).
Bob Rae, Premier of Ontario, said the defeat of the bill is a clear indication that Canada should keep abortion out of the Criminal Code.
John Reimer, Kitchener MP (PC), said he felt “a measure of disappointment” that the bill he tried to improve with amendments was defeated.  “I never said it was a good bill, but it was a bill I did support.  It had some good things in it.  It was a law, it had abortion in the Criminal Code, with criminal sanctions and the all-important principle that protection must be from conception.”
Anne Swarbrick, Ontario Minister for Women’s Issues, pledged the province will now treat abortion as a health service.  She said the province plans to recruit and train doctors to perform abortions. (Toronto Star)
“I think they should leave us the freedom as a province to provide the women of this province with full access to safe and legal abortions.”
Tom Wappel, Liberal MP for Scarborough West: “From my perspective, the bill did nothing to address the real questions society has to grapple with: Is the fetus entitled to any rights and if so, what rights and from what time?” (Toronto Star)