Toronto abortionist’s letter to Pope and Bishops written off by pro-life leaders as publicity stunt

Canadian pro-life leaders are portraying Henry Morgentaler’s recent letters to the Pope and Canadian Catholic bishops as a publicity stunt, and are supporting the bishop’s refusal to meet with the abortion crusader.

Morgentaler called on the Pope to end what he sees as rhetoric which is endangering Canadian abortionists. At a press conference later in Toronto, he chastised the pontiff for an “obsessive pre-occupation with abortion” which has resulted in the “demonizing” of abortionists as murderers and killers.

And in a December 8 letter to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Morgentaler claimed it is “absurd” to saddest that abortion kills a pre-born baby and added, “There is no violence in abortion clinics.” He also proposed a meeting with the bishops.

In a December 18 statement, the bishops replied they would continue to stand up for life both within and outside the womb and would continue to condemn violence both inseide and outside abortion clinics.

“(I)n view of the tone and rhetoric of his letter and its intransigent position in what is at stake in abortion, we feel that it would be difficult to dialogue with Dr. Morgentaler,” the bishops said in rejecting a meeting.

The reply pleased pro-life leaders.

“The bishops are right. You’re dealing with a totally irrational individual,” said outspoken Milton, Ontario, evangelist Ken Campbell, founder of Choose Life Canada. “The perversity of his mindset is rather mind-boggling.”

Ted Gerk, president of the Pro-Life Society of British Columbia, said although is a strong believer in dialogue, there seems to be little point in having the bishops meet Morgentaler. “They probably see it as an exercise in futility because in this case, dialogue isn’t going to get them anywhere.”

June Scandiffio, president of the Toronto and Area Right to Life Association, said Morgentaler would only turn a meeting with Catholic bishops into a “hoopla.”

“I think they’re right in saying it’s only going to give him more publicity,” she said. “If he’s read any of the church documents at all, including the Gospel of Life, he would see that violence is not ever proposed.”

Jakki Jeffs, head of Alliance for Life Ontario, said a meeting between the bishops and Morgentaler would be useless. “They’re coming from two diametrically opposing positions. I don’t see how there would be any kind of common ground to have a discussion.”

The pro-life leaders criticized Morgentaler for yet another publicity effort and speculated he may have needed to get his name back in the news for fundraising purposes.

“He writes a letter like that every year or two to get his name in the paper,” said Gerk. “We look at it with a lot of scepticism. Perhaps he’s upset he’s not been in the news lately or he has some fundraising to do…We just view it as the same old Morgentaler. It’s nothing new.”

“Dr. Morgentaler’s efforts to defend abortion seem more like a sales marketing strategy,” said Jeffs. “Maybe he thinks he’s been out of the limelight long enough.”

“Every so often , whenever he feels he needs a bit of attention, he pulls off this kind of caper,” said Campbell.

“I wonder if he’s not getting enough media attention,” noted Scandiffio sarcastically. “Who else’s private letters are publicized in the media?”

The pro-life leaders are also appalled at Morgentaler’s suggestion that there is no violence in abortion clinics.

“The most atrocious violence is going on in Canada is that which goes on in abortion clinics,” said Gerk. “He [Morgentaler] views it as just another way to make a dollar, but there are lots of people who view it as a very grave injustice to the most innocent in our society.”

“If it isn’t violent to tear and dismember a human body piece by piece, I don’t know what violence is,” said Jeffs. “I get a little tongue-tied trying to understand how someone like Mr. Morgentaler can defend abortion as non-violent.”

Perhaps the most creative response to Morgentaler’s letters came from Campbell, who spoofed the abortionists epistles by composing a letter of his own to the co-presidents of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in the Netherlands (Morgentaler is a noted humanist). Campbell called on them to tone down the “viciousness” of their “attacks against humanity” through abortion.

“On behalf od Canada’s civilized majority, this is to urge that you use your good offices to attempt to instill some sanity into abortionist Morgentaler’s though processes,” he wrote.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes called the move “an obvious stunt.” “Whenever he’s out of the news for an extended period, he gets nervous. On the other hand, he might have fallen off a ladder and banged his head. Who knows?”