On October 3, Henry Morgantaler took part in a University of Toronto debate at Hart House. The resolution debated was “that this House supports abortion on demand.” At the conclusion of the debate a vote was taken: pro-lifers had a very respectable 90 votes against the resolution while pro-abortionists had 123 votes for it.
While 200 students attended the debate, a greater number were turned away at the door. Debates normally go unnoticed and unattended at the university but this was an exception. Long line-ups began to form one-and-a-half hours before the debate began and the debating room was filled to capacity an hour before show time. About five policemen and two news-crews were on hand. This demonstrates the very strong feelings young people have on the abortion issue.
The two main speakers against abortion were John Canning, President of both St. Michael’s College Student Union and the U of T Debating Club, and Jerome Zutt of the School of Graduate Studies. Both speakers spoke well and Canning lived up to his reputation as a comedian. Their main point was that although they weren’t sure if the fetus was human life they thought it should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Pro-life students who spoke from the floor took stronger stances. Lisa Panzia quoted science, saying human development begins at conception. She also mentioned the guilt feelings that often follow abortion and related how, on ultra sound, a fetus could be seen to actually pull away from an intruding suction device. Another student noted that the heart beats at 18 days, brain waves are traceable at four weeks and fingers and toes are perfectly formed at seven weeks. Bearing a child was compared to public education: while younger members of society had the right to free education, older members had to pay the bill. Similarly, adult society has the responsibility to the rights of the unborn.
Due to time constraints, many excellent pro-life speakers were not allowed the floor. Those who did speak were Susan Conklin, Make Watanabe, Lisa Panzica and Godwin Cotter.
“Children stop careers”
The first pro-choice speaker was Rachel Foulkes, a student at Victoria College. Her treatise seemed to be that women’s rights were paramount and that the rights of God, unborn babies and fathers did not exist. Reasons given for abortion were that “besides the pill, no method of birth control is 100 per cent,” restrictions to abortion mean “the banning of sex for pleasure of the female,” “children stop careers” and “women proving themselves equal to men” and that we must avoid the errors of the past such as “sex was for marriage and marriage was for children.” In her meandering arguments, she also misquoted Catholic teaching by asserting that abortion was not condemned until 1869.
The second speaker for abortion was Judy Rebick from the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics. She began by elaborating on the difference between being pro-choice and pro-abortion. Although Rebick did not know when life began, she thought that each woman should be allowed to answer that question herself. As evidence that the fetus was not human life, it was noted that society has not established funerals for miscarriages. Rebick finished by sensationalizing the dangers of illegal abortion. She quoted little-known statistics concerning the country of Uruguay. This country of three million people had an estimated 150,000 illegal abortions annually or had 14 times the abortion rate of Canada. Putting blind faith in statistics, Rebick asserted that laws don’t prevent abortions but serve to make them safer.
Morgantaler of the pro-choice circuit
The last speaker was Henry Morgentaler. One might have thought he would have a thick skin after killing thousands of babies and being on the pro-choice circuit for a decade. However, he showed his sensitivity by saying how hurt he was that an earlier speaker had questioned his integrity. He stretched this point to ridiculous extremes by dwelling on his own personal martyrdom, rather than that of the fetus. He gathered a lot of mileage in this way as the crowd assisted him in licking his wounds…
Finally, Morgentaler described himself as a champion of women’s rights fighting against a male-dominated society. He went on to advertise his abortion techniques as “new and improved” – making them the safest in North America. Unwanted children, he asserted, become “juvenile delinquents or great criminals.”
“A single cell doesn’t even look like a baby”
Morgentaler’s concluding comments were classic. He stated that the fetus was not human and how could it be when “a single cell doesn’t even look like a baby.” A heckler asked him how many one-celled “feti” he had aborted and Morgentaler moved on to his next point. Noting that four out of five conceptions end in spontaneous abortions, he went on to say “God is the greatest abortionist, I’m in good company.” To conclude, he said to his supporters, “Fight for your rights and for those of others who can’t get abortions.” To pro-life students he said, “I appeal to your sense of compassion for your sisters. No one forces you to have an abortion.”
Godwin Cotter is a pro-life contributor from Toronto.
CBC rejects propaganda film
CBC-TV has rejected the National Film Board’s Abortions Stories from North and South for airing on its networks. Darce Fardy, head of CBC-TV current affairs explained on October 24 that “we turned it down for the same reason as we did the board’s film about Dr. Henry Morgentaler…we felt it required balance, which wasn’t there…” The earlier film Democracy on Trial: The Morgentaler Affair was turned down in the spring of this year.
As was pointed out in our November issue, both productions are propaganda films in favour of abortion. Political pressure should be brought to bear on the Ministry of Communications to stop the National Film Board from continuing to produce this kind of pseudo-documentary. Letters, if possible in French, should go to the Honorable Marcel Masse, the Minister in charge of the NFB, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario. Letters of support to the CBC may be sent to 1500 Bronson Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 3J5.
The CBC’s rejection of the propaganda film gave Toronto Star columnist Lynda Hurst the opportunity to write another column on the subject of abortion, this time arguing that the film’s real thrust is the elimination of abortion by means of universal, safe birth control. In reality, over the last 30 years the rise of abortion has been subsequent to the introduction of the pill and contraceptives.