On November 8, 1984, Henry Morgentaler and two fellow abortionists, Robert Scott and Leslie Smoling, were acquitted on charges of conspiring to procure a miscarriage. The acquittal
Did not imply that these men has not been doing abortions. They have done many; Henry Morgentaler alone has executed 20,000.What the acquittal does mean is that Morgentaler and medical doctors like him cannot be convicted of a crime when doing abortions in their own abortuaries rather than in hospitals with so-called therapeutic abortion committees where the law says they should be done.
The jury verdict was splashed across the front pages of Canada’s newspapers together with pictures of a jubilant Morgentaler, surrounded by a happy crowd of feminists who believe in every woman’s right to kill the human life conceived within her, if and when she feels like it. These advocates for abortion-on-demand have been with us for twenty years. They won their case in principle in 1969 when the federal government made the killing of the unborn legal, subject to a few conditions of place and procedure. Even these few conditions irritated them. They wanted the absolute right to abortion. The latest acquittal by jury has made the realization of their dream come closer.
Over the years the advocates of a woman’s right to kill her unborn offspring have grown in numbers. They have always included a number of lapsed Catholics. In more recent years, they have begun to count among their members a small group of Catholics who attend Church and receive the sacraments regularly, yet who do not hide the fact that they reject the Church’s age-old stand on the radical inadmissibility of killing the unborn. In other words, not only are they unconvinced by arguments from human reason against abortion, but they publicly reject the teaching authority of their own Church, even in a matter most fundamental to human behaviour – that of life and death. At the same time, they demand to be accepted as Catholics in good standing.
In the United States, this attitude of rebellion was brought to the fore recently by two events. During the election campaign the Democratic Party candidate for the Vice-Presidency,Geraldine Ferraro, revealed herself as a so-called “Pro-choice” Catholic. It was discovered that as Congresswoman she had voted regularly for abortion-promoting measures and that, in fact, she was and is a member of “Catholics for Free Choice” who hosts woman’s right to abortion as a principle. Despite efforts by Democratic Party supporters to make the issue into a law, American Church-State debate involvement in the American Constitution and other legal or political customs peculiar to the United States, two Archbishops, those of New York and Boston, later followed by other Bishops, make it clear that as far as the Church is concerned, one cannot both be Catholic and also uphold the principle of the right to kill the unborn. In the very midst of this debate there inserted itself a second group of Catholics, led by Daniel Maguire, a former Jesuit priest still teaching at a Catholic institution, and his wife Marjorie, a former nun, both long active in promoting the acceptability of abortion among Catholics. On October 7, the New York Times carried their advertisement signed by 90 priests and nuns, (out of 2000 canvassed), who declared their adherence to this position.
Canada has its own Catholics who publicly accept abortion in principle. There are of course, lapsed Catholics such as Lucie Pépin, former president of the Federal Advisory Council on the Status of Women and recently elected MP in Marc Lalonde’s old riding in Montreal, and Lise Fortier, former president of Planned Parenthood of Canada. Both have been very active in promoting the so-called “pro-choice” position.
For some, abortion is perfectly acceptable
There are Catholics who do not feel called to actively promote the presumed right to abortion, but who have publicly acknowledged that abortion is perfectly acceptable. Among these should be counted Maureen McTeer, the wife of former prime minister Joe Clark. The September 1984 issue of the Interim, detailed the case of Mrs. Marion Bryden, NDP member in the Ontario Legislature for Toronto’s riding or Beaches-Woodbine. Ottawa’s Action Life News of May 1984, in explaining the latest refusal of Mayor Marion Dewar to endorse a ‘Respect for Life’ week, recalled the Mayor’s public acceptance of abortion going back to a least 1978 when the Ottawa Citizen (May 12, 1978) quoted her on the subject:
Different from all the above, however, is Mrs. Laura Sabia. There we have a person of great influence among feminists, the foundress of various Women’s Action Councils, who not only promotes the right-to-abortion position publicly, repeatedly, to the point of priding herself on her longstanding directorship of CARAL, the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, but who in the process also vehemently attacks and ridicules the Church’s position, not once, not twice, but time and time again, in her newspaper columns, interviews, radio shows or when or wherever the subject surfaces. This person believes herself to be a Catholic in good standing! Recently, June Callwood, Globe & Mail columnist and pro-abortionist, honoured Laura Sabia by devoting a column to her. The piece was entitled: “Scream bloody Murder”. To my mind, nothing could have summed up Mrs. Sabia’s position on the unborn more accurately.
I believe the time has come for Church authorities in Canada to make clear that nobody can be pro-abortionist and a Catholic at the same time. Those Catholics who insist on being publicly pro-abortion, should be rebuked publicly.