By Elsie Wayne Special to The Interim Editor’s Note: The following is a speech by Elsie Wayne (PC, Saint John, N.B.) during the Sept. 30 debate over M-83, a private member’s motion requesting the House of Commons Standing Health Committee study whether abortion is medically necessary and explore the medical consequences of abortion. The motion was defeated. Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Yorkton-Melville (Canadian Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz) for the motion he has put forward. He is a great friend of Canadian families and I thank him for that.
The purpose of the motion is to separate fact from fiction in the debate over publicly funded abortion. This is an issue that is very topical and of great interest to the people of New Brunswick because, as honourable members will know, Dr. Henry Morgentaler has sued our provincial government over its refusal to use public funds for private abortion clinics. All Dr. Morgentaler cares about is the money he puts in the bank. He does not care about the baby in the womb. He does not care about the person who is having the abortion. I wish to congratulate our premier and our provincial government for not paying for these abortions.
The member for Yorkton-Melville has courageously gone to great lengths to show that the government has adopted a position that is without factual basis. In my hometown newspaper, the Saint John Telegraph Journal, the federal minister of health was quoted as saying: “Our view is that obviously abortion is a medically necessary service and therefore has to be insured, whether it is performed in a hospital or a private clinic.”
That is a truly shocking position. In all my years working with the parliamentary pro-life caucus, and all my time working in support of pro-life causes, never before have I heard the argument that abortions were medically necessary. Heart transplants and blood transfusions are medically necessary, but abortions are not.
In fact, even those who believe that abortions should be allowed in Canada identify themselves as being pro-choice because even they acknowledge that abortions are an elective procedure.
As this House knows, I strongly believe that abortion should not be allowed in Canada. As a mother, a grandmother, and a member of Parliament, I do not believe that Canadians should have the choice to end a life that has just begun. It is a human life they are taking.
That is not what we are here to debate tonight. I want to respect the very clear wording and meaning of the motion. The wording of the motion and the spirit of what we are debating tonight is to ask the Standing Committee on Health to conduct a full and thorough study of abortions to determine if they are in any way medically necessary.
Are they medically necessary to maintain the health of Canadians? Are they medically necessary to prevent any unknown disease? Are they medically necessary to diagnose or treat any kind of injury, illness or disability? In short, are abortions medically necessary in any way, as the minister of health has suggested?
I am not a doctor, nor am I a nurse. I do not have formal training in any field of medical science. I am not in a position to answer any of those questions with any degree of expertise.
The Canadian Physicians for Life wrote to the prime minister on Oct. 7, 2002, stating: “Women’s health is being harmed by abortion, without their knowledge or consent. Available studies make this clear, and the politics of abortion is keeping this information from women – they are not fully informed before they make their choice for abortion.”
The Canadian Nurses for Life wrote a letter to each one of us dated Nov. 18, 2002, clearly stating that abortion was not a medical necessity. The Canadian Nurses for Life went on to say: “As members of the most populous health care profession, we are well aware of the necessity of conserving our health care dollars. We are there on the front lines of health care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are uniquely involved in every aspect of caring for our patients and as such are able to distinguish the need for medical information when we see it.”
They are saying that this is not needed.
The minister of health’s own department has not conducted the kind of investigation necessary to answer the questions. The simple truth is that the minister does not have a single shred of evidence to support her comments. Why, then, would she say it? She said it because it was the only thing she could say to support the argument that abortions in private clinics should be paid for with tax dollars.
She said it because it was the only thing she could say that could justify the bullying of provincial governments like New Brunswick, which has refused to do so. Provinces will continue to refuse to do so. They will go to court if they have to, but just because it was said does not mean that it was true.
I would hope and expect that the minister of health would support this motion. If she truly believes that abortions are a medically necessary service, then I challenge the minister to help us prove it.
Let us get the science in our hands first. Let us get answers to the questions first. I know in my heart that abortions are not medically necessary services and I am willing to put my opinion up to the scrutiny of the Standing Committee on Health. Why would the minister not do the same?
After all, is her opinion not the basis for government policy? Does she not owe it to Canadians to ensure that the foundations of government policy are deeply rooted in fact and not fiction? It was stated in the Ottawa Citizen that: “But when a healthy pregnancy is abruptly terminated, the hormones have too little chance to mature the breast tissue, so what is left behind is an increased number of vulnerable cells, which raises the risk of cancers developing.”
This is right here in the paper that abortions can cause breast cancer. Our Canadian health care system is under ever-increasing strain as our population ages and as we combat new diseases. Health care dollars are at a premium and the provinces are already forced to make difficult decisions about how best to use those dollars to help Canadians. These decisions should be based on the best information medical science can offer us. The guidance we give as members of Parliament or as a minister of the Crown should be based on a logical view of the facts.
Recommending that the Standing Committee on Health investigate this matter is a search for the truth. It is the prudent and responsible course when faced with a shortage of information and a variety of opinions …
On an issue where we should be doing everything we can, this is the very least we can do. We need to get our information. We need to get our research. We need the minister to ensure that the committee on health does its homework on this issue.