On May 13, 1992, after six months of waiting, the NDP government of Saskatchewan made its decision not to halt provincial funding of abortion, even though 63 per cent of Saskatchewan voters voted to end abortion funding in the election of October 21, 1991. According to the government, it would be “illegal and unconstitutional” to do so!
This statement is totally false and misleading.
Saskatchewan Health Minister Louise Simard cited three documents saying why it is “illegal and unconstitutional” to de-fund abortion in Saskatchewan: the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canada Health Act.
Human Rights Code
If the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code (SHRC) by some stretch of the imagination could be construed so as to require abortion funding, the easy answer is: amend it! The SHRC is a statute of the Province of Saskatchewan. One does not need to be a lawyer to know that a province can amend its own Acts of the Legislature.
It is laughable to think that anyone thought that abortion could be de-funded without changing law or regulations in the first place. Nevertheless, Simard found lawyers to say that de-insuring abortion is illegal and unconstitutional because it would contravene one of Saskatchewan’s own Acts. How ludicrous!
Simard’s second reason for refusing to cut taxpayers’ funding of abortion – supposedly a “private” affair – is that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes it legally impossible to de-insure abortion.
But even if this were true, has our Government not heard of the “Notwithstanding Clause,” the clause Quebec used to pass its Language law and which Saskatchewan used to end a strike a few years ago? Again, one doesn’t need to be a lawyer to know that it is both legal and constitutional to use Section 33 of the Charter, i.e., the “Notwithstanding Clause,” to over-ride the Charter. That is what this section is for.
Apparently the Saskatchewan government considers Pierre Trudeau’s Charter, which was never voted on by the people of Canada, more important than the voice of the people of Saskatchewan. Canada must have the only Human Rights Act and the only Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the world that are used to justify financing the killing of people.
But let us consider the following three points with respect to the Charter:
First, if the failure of government to finance abortion for a woman is a denial of sexual equality (because only women get pregnant), then refusal to fund a breast implant would also be unconstitutional. Yet this is what is being proposed today.
Second, in Canada there is no such thing as a constitutional “right” to medical insurance. Even now the federal NDP and Liberal parties are lobbying to enshrine such a supposed right into any new Canadian Constitution (though it is difficult to see how something which depends so directly on the economic prosperity of a country can become a “right.”) In other words, why would these parties be lobbying to get it into the Charter, if it were in the Charter already, as Ms. Simard says?
Third, as it stands now, any province can end funding for any “medical” treatment, even for a heart bypass or appendicitis operation. In Ontario, the government is proposing to end funding for a number of treatments such as psychiatric counseling, in vitro fertilization, sterilization and circumcision.
In short, the Charter does not include a “right” to any medical insurance and the argument that the Charter prohibits a province from cutting abortion funding, therefore, is phony.
Charter of Rights
Ms. Simard’s third source for refusing to halt the funding of abortion is the Canada Health Act. This Act promises transfer payments to provinces that insure medically necessary procedures. Leave for the moment the question as to whether abortion is ever medically necessary, or why some people assume they are all medically necessary.
The Canada Health Act does not, and never did, require any province to insure any service. It simply sets out requirements to be met if a province wishes to receive transfer payments – payments that may well be phased out over the next few years.
The province may not wish to forego transfer payments prematurely, but that is quite a different matter from the issue of whether it can end abortion payments legally. To suggest otherwise is more than incompetence; it borders on dishonesty.
But let us raise a practical question: would the Federal Government end transfer payments if Saskatchewan, or any other province, took action against abortion funding?
In the first place, as mentioned, the Feds may be ending all transfer payments anyway.
Secondly, at the very least, the province could end funding for abortions that are not “medically” necessary, using this term by the standards of pro-abortion sources (19 out of 20 abortions are done for birth-controls). Before any medical accounts submitted by physicians are paid, the government could require an accompanying letter from the physician or hospital explaining why the operation was “medically necessary.”
Furthermore, the Canada Health Act does not cut off transfer payments automatically. Section 14 of the Act requires that the Federal Minister of Health contact the Provincial Minister for consultation if Ottawa feels the province is not complying with the Act. If Ottawa feels that this is the case, it can require the province to change its process, thereby giving the province adequate time to reappraise its position. But from a practical point of view, the Federal Government would be extremely loathe to interfere with the determination made by a province on this highly political and sensitive issue.
It is clear that the Saskatchewan government wanted a political answer acceptable to the feminist and anti-life group in its ranks. And that’s what it got.
Even the phrasing of the question was a give-away. Instead of asking whether the province could legally de-fund abortions, the government asked its legal consultants whether there were “any constitutional or legal impediments” to de-funding. Thus the lawyers failed to tell the government that a simple amendment to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and if necessary, the use of the “Notwithstanding” clause, would clear any “constitutional and legal impediments,” paving the ay to follow the will of the people.
Even more surprisingly than the deceptiveness of the Romanow government was the complete lack of objectivity of the media.
The caption on the Leader-Post editorial of May 15, 1992 read: “NDP Had No Legal Choice on Abortion.” This editorial and a column of the same date swallowed the NDP line, stating, “It is not legally possible for our government to de-insure abortions.” A column in the previous paper had the nerve to refer to the lack of objectivity of Pro-Life lawyers.
Clearly, it is both legal and constitutional to de-fund abortion. The quickness of the press to parrot NDP propaganda proves once again the inherent dishonesty of the pro-abortion people.