I am a native son of Saskatchewan and in September 1983 I partook in the “Run for Life” from Saskatoon to Regina. I have been asked to analyze Bill 53 (Saskatchewan), proposed by M.L.A Gay Caswell. This is my analysis.
The intention of those who formulated Bill 63 is very laudable, that is, to ensure that a woman contemplating an abortion is properly informed. It is well known that most women who are properly informed about the consequences of abortion, both for the child and for the mother, are dissuaded from seeking an abortion. Moreover, it is a well-established moral principle that, although one may never formally co-operate with evil, at times one may have to tolerate evil while striving to eliminate it. Thus it is morally acceptable to support a bill that will diminish the number of abortions, while making it clear that the supporters of the bill merely tolerate the abortions that remain and are working to eliminate even these. In other words, a pro-lifer may support a bill that sets out to curtail the number of abortions even though, to be politically viable, the bill still has to tolerate a certain number of abortions.
My conclusion is that pro-abortion forces would have used Bill 53 in its present form for their own purposes. They could vaunt themselves as having “informed” women seeking abortions in much the same way as drug companies “inform their clients of the dangers inherent in taking contraceptive pills” Thus Bill 53 could be one more way for “therapeutic” abortion committees to manipulate minds as they do at present by their use of the word “health,” etc. May I suggest that if Bill 53 is to be resubmitted, it be amended as follows:
- The title be changed to one that does not support a “choice” philosophy. A suitable title might be “An Act Requiring Abortion Information.”
- Section 4 be completely revised so that the woman contemplating an abortion be informed about the nature of abortion by a public or private agency which assists a woman to carry her child to term.
My overall conclusion is that Bill 53, which could be manipulated by pro-abortion forces for their own purposes, it not pro-life legislation.
After studying the provisions of Bill 53 of 1984-5, I have concluded that on the whole, Bill 53 would not have contributed to the pro-life cause. The reasons for this conclusion are as follows:
The title (and the bill in its entirety) is based on a “pro-choice” philosophy. One educative role in moral matters that a law should have is thereby thwarted. The very title (“Freedom of informed choice”) is based on the assumption that a woman has the right to choose abortion.
The most objectionable feature of the bill appears in section 4, that is, “… consent is deemed to be informed only where a (therapeutic abortion) committee, or one of its members, provides in person to the woman…the following information:” …there then follows an outline of information regarding the characteristics of the unborn child, of the abortion procedure, of risks to the woman, and of agencies that can assist the woman to carry the baby to term.
That such a committee would be unreliable as a means to inform the woman is evident from the fact that so-called “therapeutic” abortion committees have not even been required by the Minister of Health to meet the provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code. Section 251,4, c, of the Criminal Code required that a Committee certifies in writing that in its opinion the continuation of the pregnancy would or would be likely to endanger the woman’s life or health. Section 251,5, provides that the Minister of Health of a Province may order the Committee to furnish him with a copy of each certificate issued.
It is well known that virtually all abortions are performed for socio-economic reasons which have nothing to do with health in the commonly accepted meaning of the word. If abortion committees and Ministers of Health do not fulfill even the requirements of the Criminal Code, how would one ever expect them to comply with a further requirement, that is, to produce a certificate of compliance with the provisions of Bill 53?
I understand that a special committee has been set up in Saskatchewan to ensure that the law is upheld regarding abortion. Presumably this special committee would also have monitored compliance with Bill 53. However, I further understand that to date this special committee has not been accountable to anyone, even regarding fulfillment of the Criminal Code requirements.
It has been pointed out that if Bill 53 had been passed, a woman could plausibly challenge a court, a committee, or committee member, who failed to inform her as required by the Bill. However, it is well known that one can fulfill the letter of the law and violate its spirit. For instance, drug companies are very adept at meeting the letter, but violating the spirit, of the law requiring them to inform women of the dangers involved in taking anovulent pills. The information is couched in such terms, and in such an inconspicuous print, that the spirit of the law is violated. Here we have the fundamental flaw of Bill 53. It is a member of the abortion committee who is entrusted with the responsibility of informing the woman. How can anyone who accepts abortion to the extent that he or she is even willing to serve on an abortion committee ever desire to follow the spirit of a bill requiring full information about the consequences of abortion both for the child and the mother?