A number of MPs and reporters called the abortion debate Parliament’s finest hour; the speeches on both sides were of unusually high quality for the House of Commons.  On July 27, a remarkable confrontation took place between two Tory Cabinet ministers – Barbara McDougall, Minister of Employment and Immigration and Jake Epp Minister of Health and Welfare.

n; Ms. McDougall gave an impassioned defense of a woman’s right to choose.

McDougall did not pretend that abortion is only the removal of a blob of tissue or a collection of cells.  She called it “the killing of an unborn child – let us not be afraid of the vocabulary.”  Still, she said, the issue began at the dawn of time and will always be with us despite all the words, edicts and laws; over the centuries many women have chosen not to bear the child they have conceived.

She stated frankly that the problem is a moral one.  But who is to make the decision – judges in red robes?  Politicians in the green chamber? Or the woman herself?  The pregnant woman knows all the arguments brought forward, including the fact that a handicapped child can still be a happy child and a child born in poverty, can still have a happy life.  Is she not in the best position to make a judgment for herself?  Why should we not respect her ability to make a choice?

Jake Epp, on the other hand, stated clearly and cogently that the convenience of the inclinations of a prospective mother have to be weighed against a basic principle.

“I plead with my colleagues to determine to reinforce first principles: that life itself is paramount because it is a precious gift to humanity.  Only as we go so far as to protect the right of the most defenseless of us, will we have the assurance that there exists a strong foundation to protect the rights of all of us.