Our family goes on holiday the last two weeks in August. We go to a cottage where we have no television, a radio that strangely only plays classical music, and my newspaper addiction is restricted to the Ottawa Citizen. It was a shock to return home on Labour Day weekend to find that friends had been in jail in Toronto for over a week. Although the Citizen published a skimpy report following the rescue at Morgentaler`s on August 23, there was no indication that pro-lifers were held in jail for refusing to agree to stay away from the abortuary.

Preborn Civil Rights

What is astounding about this is not that pro-lifers are in jail but that there is no condemnation about it in the media. It is front-page news when Bishop and Mrs. Tutu are arrested for protesting the denial of civil rights to black South Africans, and yet when Canadians are arrested for protesting the denial of civil rights to preborn babies most people do not know it is happening. Columnists and editorial writers scream loudly when picketers and demonstrators are removed roughly from almost any demonstration you care to mention. Yet when draconian injunctions are applied against peaceful life-saving activities in Toronto and Vancouver, the silence is deafening.

I wish someone would stand up to the civil libertarians and challenge them to examine the hypocrisy of their position. There is a double standard imposed on “causes. If the South African Embassy, for example, obtained a court injunction against picketing, the cries of condemnation would be endless. Imagine also if the federal government cracked down on those who attempt to physically interfere with weapons testing and manufacture across the country. You would see even those who disagree with the cause rushing to defend the rights of others to protest.

Steven Mosher

One other point on hypocrisy, both media and government. Earlier this summer the television and newspapers were flooded with criticism over the Chinese government’s murder of the students demonstrating for democracy in Tiananmen Square. The condemnation was universal and, indeed, justified. But why did not the media and government react equally loudly several years ago when Steven Mosher tried to publicize the vile “one child” policies in China? Human life is cheap in China, as late-term forced abortions and newborn babies drowned in buckets testifies; it is hypocrisy to ignore one abuse while condemning the other.

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On returning home, I had several weeks of mail and magazines to read through. Perhaps the break from newsprint had made me more alert because I found a couple of curious items.

Two-pound creature

In late August, Newsweek published an article suggesting that exposure to bright nursery lights causes blindness in babies born prematurely. The article itself is interesting, but it was the opening sentences that caught my attention.

“When David Aleff entered the world on a November morning in 1984, no one quite expected him to make it through the day,” the article said. “Even if the two-pound creature somehow survived, the doctors predicted, being born at just 24 weeks would surely leave him retarded. Three months later the baby went home alive, alert and apparently thriving.”

Extraordinary, isn’t it? A premature baby is now described as a “creature,” presumably because he may be retarded. Only when the baby goes home (his blindness was diagnosed some months later), does he become a “baby”.

As a recent Campaign Life Coalition pamphlet expressed it, “a baby is a baby is a baby”. Newsweek writers and editors should be asked to learn such basic fact.

Vital human beings

Another extraordinary opening paragraph appeared in The Mail on Sunday recently. This is the British paper that paid Chantal Daigle $8,000 for her story. The writer who interviewed Daigle opened with:

“In another time, another place, the baby would have lived. It had hair on its tiny head, its fingernails were growing, it was going to be a perfectly healthy child.”

A perfectly accurate observation, but can you imagine the uproar if a Canadian newspaper had published it? Later on in the article the writer noted that, “Already babies of 23 weeks, just seven days older than Chantal’s child, have survived to become vibrant, vital human beings.” Such a statement would have had CARAL running to the Press Council immediately: imagine the gall of actually calling the unborn a “baby” or “child.”

Coming back home – back to reality – has its ups and downs.