On March 16, 1989, Nova Scotia introduced changes into the Health Act and the Hospital Act that the government hopes will stop Morgentaler from opening a free-standing abortuary.  The new regulations make it illegal to perform abortions outside hospitals.

However, it should not be thought that the Buchanan government is pro-life.  The fine for breaking the new regulations, for example, is a mere $500.00.  Even if this fine were levied for every day the abortion mill would be open, it would not stop Morgentaler.  Meanwhile, the government is quite content to have abortions committed in the ten hospitals which had abortion committees before January 1988.  (Most of the 1500 abortions are done in Halifax’s Victoria General Hospital.)

Nor are the Liberals of a different cast of mind.  The NDP, of course, accepts a woman’s “right” to kill her unborn baby without further ado.

Until very recently, no efforts had been made to confront politicians with the abortion issue.  Only in the federal elections of November 1988 was abortion brought up as an issue.  This was a first and was due to the work of a newly-established branch of Campaign Life Coalition.

On the provincial level, abortion has never been an issue in the past.  Consequently, there is no core of pro-life MLAs who will work with pro-life and develop a strategy to end abortions in the province.  There is not even a core of pro-lifers in each riding who are convinced that the killing of the unborn should be a political issue.  There has been little or no pro-life leadership on any level, political, religious, legal or medical.

Morgentaler is aware of all this and has made plans accordingly.  Last December, one of his Montreal holding companies, Gestions Habal Inc., (controller Gertrude Katz), purchased a home in the north end of Halifax and acquired a building permit to transform it into a medical office.  Alterations are now finished and the abortuary will open in late May or June.

One effect of Morgentaler’s boldness may well be the final awakening of dormant pro-life sentiments.  Some pro-life spokesmen have promised Operation Rescue action if he opens.  While this is unlikely to stop the Morgentaler drive, it will save the honour and integrity of those pro-lifers who have taken this issue seriously.  Meanwhile the new government regulations are a first indication that something may be accomplished politically as well.  Canada is still waiting for the first province not only to stop Morgentaler but also to end public funding of all abortions.

But unless there is a drastic change, Nova Scotia will not be that province.  Health Minister David Nantes laughed at Morgentaler’s charge that Nova Scotia “might be the laughing stock of the medical community” for refusing him his abortuary.  “We’re getting an awful lot of letters in this office supporting the government’s stand,” he said.  “It’s pretty overwhelming.”  But then he went on to say that women in Nova Scotia are adequately cared for under the province’s system of hospital abortions. “We’re proud of the system and we don’t think it should change.”  (Times Transcript, Moncton, April 18).  Pro-lifers better tell him that he is wrong and that they’ll fight him until it is changed and all funding and hospital abortions are ended.

Newfoundland

From St. John’s, Nfld. It is reported that this year’s annual Good Friday pro-life rally had a sharper focus because or the rumours that Morgentaler will open a local free-standing abortion facility.  About 2000 people marched in silence, many carrying placards.  The president of St. John’s Right to Life Association, Mrs. Philomena Rodgers, declared that Morgentaler will meet with fierce opposition.

Yet, abortion was not an issue during the recent provincial elections.  Candidates were not asked whether they approve or disapprove of taxpayers being forced to finance abortions (they were being done in St. John’s Memorial University Hospital).  Premier Tom Rideout had said he would take action if Morgentaler tried to open an abortuary.  But Mr. Rideout’s government was defeated and he is no longer premier.  Moreover, the drafting of anti-Morgentaler legislations should be done before, not after Morgentaler arrives.  When will pro-lifers even begin to develop the political clout on the municipal as well as the provincial levels needed to stop the subsidizing of all abortions, let alone stopping Morgentaler?

New Brunswick

The situation in New Brunswick is an illustration of how unprepared a province can be despite vague general pro-life intentions.

The April issue of The Interim carried an article under the title of “N.B.’s feeble response.”  In opposition to Morgentaler’s lawsuit for payment of abortions done on three New Brunswick women, the N.B. government put up a feeble legal defence.  The government’s lawyer William Anderson gave away the attitude of the McKenna regime when in all earnestness he justified the government’s opposition by telling the media that “the government of the province hasn’t done anything to impede the right of a woman to have an abortion.”  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

On April 6, the judge declared Morgentaler the winner simply because New Brunswick had never passed the required legislation out-lawing payment for abortions committed on New Brunswick women outside the province.

On the same day as the judgment, one MLA, Danny Gay of Miramichi Bay, made a passionate plea against all abortions.  This one-man plea should now be converted into political group action.  Morgentaler is not finished with New Brunswick.  He has announced already that he will seek the abolition of restrictions on free-standing abortuaries within the province.  Pro-life must seek new legislation to stamp out all abortions.

The lesson in all this is simple.  Generalized vague pro-life sentiments are of no value; they merely lull people to sleep.  What is needed is direct and precise political action to go with a more general program of education.  Each province should organize its own branch of Campaign Life Coalition to complement the educational work of the local Right to Life groups.  The political action groups should then turn on the heat on the politicians.  Abolishing the funding of abortions should be their first target.

As Joe Borowski put it in his recent address to the St. John’s, Nfld. Right to Life Society on April 15, “We are at the tail end of a disastrous situation in this country.”