Editor’s Note: Aditya Rau attends St. Robert’s Catholic High School in Richmond Hill and finished third in the Fr. Ted Colleton Essay contest co-sponsored by Niagara Region Right to Life and The Interim.
Canada is a nation that values freedom, respect for cultural differences and has a strong commitment to social justice issues. At the heart of our nation’s identity lies a commitment to equality, respect and dignity. The rights of the unborn child should indeed form part of these core values. However, history shows us the repeated failures, at all levels of Canadian government, to create policies that would protect unborn children. Although this is unfortunate, there is indeed cause for optimism for the pro-life cause in Canada. The actions of various groups and local organizations have made it clear that the pro-life movement is alive and well. The fact that the movement continues to evolve, engaging more individuals, is cause for hope
A study of this country shows, that even though Canada is considered to be one of the world’s most highly-developed countries, it is the only nation in Western civilization that has failed time and again, to establish clear legal restrictions on abortion. Iain Hunter, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, is candid about the failings of the government on this issue. Despite the fact that Article 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms outlines that, “Everyone has a right to life … and the right not to be deprived thereof” … the Canadian government has repeatedly failed to legislate pro-life policies, which would protect the rights of the unborn child. This is borne out by the fact that abortion is often justified as being a consequence of “a woman’s right to choose” and in Canada, exterminating unborn children is considered to be a “human right”, supported by municipal, provincial and federal governments.
In spite of these failings, there have been multiple attempts within the political arena to change the government’s position on the issue. Most recently, there have been several private members’ bills introduced in Parliament: Bill C-338, an Act to amend the Criminal Code, called for the re-criminalization of abortions committed after the 20th week of gestation; Bill C-484 would have made it an indictable offence for someone to cause the death of, or injury to a child “at any stage of development before birth.” Although these bills once again sparked the debate as to whether the rights of a child in the womb take precedence over that of a pregnant woman, they were supported by a number of organizations including Life Canada, the Canada Family Action Coalition and the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF). However, the actions and efforts of the MPs, backed by the support of multiple pro-life organizations represented, according to COLF’s chairman, a “welcome development because it recognizes, at least in the case of violent assault against the mother, the human dignity of the unborn child and the value of human life.”
As a student, I have been witness to the efforts of various groups and organizations both within school and across society in support of the unborn child. As a member of the social justice group at my school, I have worked with students as a volunteer for Rose of Sharon, charitable organization that provides support and educational services to pregnant and single mothers under the age of 25, in York Region, north of Toronto. At my Catholic school, both students and teachers are strong advocates for the pro-life movement. By supporting single mothers, we are sending out a strong message: y”ou are not alone; we admire your courage to protect the life of your unborn child.” Events such as the National March for Life in Ottawa, in which I participated last year, brought together pro-life activists from across the country to rally for the rights of the unborn child. Finally, today both technological and medical advancements in society are a cause for optimism for the pro-life movement. Ultrasounds, sonography and medical advances in fetal imaging, ensure that the humanity of the unborn child is an undeniable fact for every person who sees a living and breathing individual within the uterus of a woman. No longer is an unborn child simply “a blob of tissue” – rather, he or she is an individual with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the face of much adversity and controversy over this issue, steps have been taken by politicians, organizations, citizens and students to fight for the rights of the unborn child.
The movement is growing in strength – it’s time has come, it’s time is now. However, if Canada is to be “the true North, strong and free,” the government must begin to work proactively with the pro-life movement. It is more than a duty to protect the rights of an unborn child. It is more than a duty to be a part of the pro-life movement. It is quite simply, a noble calling and an immense responsibility.