All MPs, including those who still have some religious convictions, are “off the hook” on the abortion question.  They can now vote for the renewed legalization of abortion as proposed by Prime Minister Mulroney, as long as they vote for Amendment A.  This, at least, is the opinion of the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in Ottawa, as expressed in a letter by its President to all MPs and Senators.  Amendment A would allow abortion where two doctors consider the mother’s life or health to be seriously or substantially endangered.

The news of the abortion statement by CCCB president, James Hayes, formulated during meetings in Ottawa on June 15 and 16, reached pro-lifers assemble in Charlottetown, P.E.I., for the National Annual Meetings of Alliance for Life and Campaign Life Coalition, on Friday afternoon, June 24.  The news stunned the delegates who advocate turning down all three Mulroney proposals as a new attempt to legalize abortion.  Statements were immediately drafted, rejecting the CCCB statement on the grounds of political and pastoral errors.

Alliance for Life in the national co-ordinating office of 255 pro-life educational groups which are located in every province and in every region.  Campaign Life Coalition is the national pro-life political organization, working at all levels of government to secure full legal protection for all human life, from conception to natural death.  Both groups are calling for the defeat of all the Mulroney proposals which they consider totally unacceptable.

The June 16, statement by CCCB President, Archbishop James Hayes, declares all three government options “objectionable from the standpoint of Catholic teaching.”  “Amendment A, however,” it says, “is the least objectionable.”  The CCCB president goes on to encourage MPs to vote for this Amendment.  There is, he says, “a concern expressed by many pro-life Members of Parliament,” namely that “abstention from voting, because the perfect law has not been presented, may indirectly contribute to the passage of the Government’s main motion.”

Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), in a statement approved unanimously by over thirty directors in attendance from across Canada, called the announced position a “betrayal of both nation and Church.”

In a news release, Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes said he was disappointed by the bishop’s position.

Hughes said that instead of demanding a just law that would protect all human life from the moment of conception, the bishops’ conference had invited MPs to vote for the least of three evils.

“We deny that any person or group of persons may exonerate the conscience of legislators in voting for the legalization of abortion on the grounds that a ‘perfect’ law is not likely to be passed in the immediate future,” Hughes said.  “Such an exoneration is nothing less than a betrayal of both nation and church.”

A press release issued by Alliance for Life states that the pro-life groups of Canada gathered at their Annual General Meeting, “express to the CCCB their disappointment in and disapproval of the statement from the CCCB with reference to the abortion motion before the House of Commons.”

In a letter of information to supporter, Campaign Life Coalition explained that with the striking down of the 1969 law relating to abortion, a tabula rasa (blank board) situation had been created.  The task at hand before Parliament, the letter states, does “not consist, as implied in the CCCB letter, in Parliament having to choose between two or three evils…but in building from scratch  a new law aiming at full respect for human life from conception to death.”  By failing to hold fast to such a law, the CCCB has made it easier for Canada’s politicians to submit to pressures…for abortion on demand.