Pro-life people, both in and out of Parliament, are helping to keep the abortion issue before the House of Commons, by petitions, by statements and questions in the House, and by Private Member’s Bills.
From the end of February in the beginning of May 19, MPs have presented a total of 30 petitions which are recorded in Hansard. These petitions ask the government to take the steps to see that the law is obeyed and the illegal Morgentaler abortuary in Toronto closed and/or that the House require the Government of Ontario to remove all restrictions placed on the Toronto Metropolitan Police Force in regard to laving charges under Section 251 of the Criminal Code against the operators of the Morgentaler Clinic. A list of the petitions is shown.
To the House is not necessarily pro-life, but non the less he/she does respond to his constituent’s requests. Other MPs simply take the petition, and my force it might have been lost. Tabling a pro-life petition could be one way of identifying MPs who would like to bury the abortion issue. A third point is that there is a very strict formula in the wording of petitions. Any groups, wish to present a petition should be able to get the correct format from their local MPs office. Failing that, Campaign Life would be glad to help
Efforts of Pro-life MPs
Pro-life MPs are also keeping the fire burning. On April a7. Mr. Lawrence McNeil, Q.C., raised the question of how Theurapeutic Abortion Committees function and whether applications are, in fact, merely rubber stamped. Only a few days later on April 23, Mr. Jim Jepson’s statement to the House confirmed what pro-lifers have been saying for years, namely that these committees. are almost without question rubber- stampers. In the tragic case of Erin Shannon of Ottawa, an abortion was “approved” hours before the committee had even met. The Hasard report shows the slovenly and slipshod way the committee work. The men and women on the committee told the lives of pre-born babies in their power-judges who pronounced a death sentence before the trial begins.
On May 5th, Mr. John Gormley, paid respect of the pro-life movement, stressed the extent of the abortion problem, and asked for a rededication to the respect for human life.
Amendments to Provide Legal Protection for the Unborn Child.
On May 8th, the House of Commons resumed its consideration of Mr. Lawrence O’Neil’s Private Member’s Bill C-254, which would provide legal counsel for unborn children. Seven MPs had an opportunity to speak during one hour provided for discussion.
Mr. Pat Binns (PC Cardigan P.E.I.)
From the outset Mr. Binns made his pro-life position very clear. “Human life is sacred because it comes from God, and, therefore, I feel that as a legislator I must act to defend innocent human beings, including the unborn.” He refused to accept abortion as an acceptable alternative to the inconvenience of pregnancy and stat ed that since unborn children cannot stand up for themselves the responsibility to support life rests on the House.
He quoted numerous exerpts from pro-life speeches made on other occasions in Parliament, statements made by Bill Yurko, Bill McKnight, Tom Siddon, Dave Kilgour and Gordon Taylor. His final quotation was from a speech by Gordon Taylor in Parliament, October 17th, 1983.
“Murder is murder, whether it occurs before birth or after birth. If we permit unborn and so-called unwanted babies to be killed, the next stop may be to
permit the killing of the crippled, the abnormal and the aged.” Mr. Albert Girard P.C, (Restiquich)
Mr. Girard opposed the Bill on a number of grounds. He felt that providing legal counsel for unborn child would impose a financial burden on the provinces and the taxpayers. He asked whether mothers also would get legal aid, not qualified in law. Delay, he said, would lead to later and less safe abortions. (He did not mention that abortion is never safe for the baby). Whilst he commended Mr. O’Neil for his concern in a serious issue he foresaw serious difficulties in implementing the Bill.
Mr. Ian Waddell [NDP, Vancouver-Kingway]
Unlike all other six speakers, Mr. Waddell chose to be facetious in his approach to protecting unborn babies. He questioned whether a baby who was permitted to live would immediately be hit with legal fees. How could a fetus give instructions? What if a child would be handicapped? Who is your client? The last question led him to make cheap and slanderous shots at pro-lifers.
“Is your client one of those crazies like Joe Borowski, one of those kinds of people? Is that your client? Is your client like people who go around hitting people over the head infront of Dr. Morgentaler’s clinic? Is that who you have to listen to?”
The remainder of his speech was a rehash of the pro-abortion clichés about “terrible delays” in getting abortions and references to “back alleys.”
Mr. Svend J. Robinson [NDP, Burnaby]
Mr. Robinson is, of course, is known for his pro-abortion views and mentioned that he had tabled Private Members Bill C238 which would, if passed, remove abortion from the Criminal Code. He argued that the present Code does not allow enough access to abortion, is discriminatory, to women, and that it applies unequally across Canada. He added:
“I emphasize that the policy of the New Democratic Party calls for decriminalization of abortion and the repeal of these provisions from the Criminal Code.”
Having said this in view, Mr. O’Neil’s Bill was intended to stop all abortions he stated that the NDP would continue to support Planned Parenthood and added “we will continue to resist legislation such as this which attacks the fundamental freedom of choice of Canadian women.”
Mr. Michel Champagne [PC, Champlain]
Mr. Champagne began by emphasizing that what was at stake in the debate was the right to life. He agreed that abortion is a complex issue and that the mother has rights, but “we must also think of the fetus because it is a being that has a right to life like any other entity.” We cannot say this one has a right to live but that one doesn’t. However, he felt that there were moral issues whch the Bill did not address, and basic questions which require answers. For example, how is the exisitng Act being enforced? What sort of people make the decision? What criteria and guidelines are used by therapeutic abortion committees?
In response to a reference Svend Robinison had made to a poll on abortion, Mr. Champagne said that he had recently made a survey in his own constituency. The question was “Are you for or against abortion?” with room for comments. There were 3,000 replies (more than in a natinal survey) and 80 per cent were against abortion.
In conclusion, Mr. Champagne made it clear that he felt much more discussion and study were needed, than the Bill under debate allowed. Mr. Champagne’s own views on abortion remain unclear.
Mr. Geoff Scott (PC, Hamilton-Wentworth)
Mr. Scott used this opportunity to place on record his position on abortion.
“If the matter of abortion ever comes to a vote, as a matter of personal conscience and so that there will be absolutely no question in the minds of my constituents with respect to where I stand on the issue, I oppose abortion, I believe that life begins at the moment of conception.”
He added that in an emergency, in a life or death situation for the mother or the child, then – and only then – does abortion become a matter between a woman and doctor, and then only on the basis of the doctor’s Hippocratic oath.
Having made his position clear, Mr. Scott added that there was a real need for reform of the law, but such reform needs more consideration than the proposed amendment allows.
Mr. Ted Schellenberg (PC, Nanaimo-Alberni)
In the short time left, Mr. Schellenberg made his positon clear, “I too oppose abortion.”
However, he was concerned about the Bill. How would lawyers be selected? Would all such lawyers be anti-abortion? Should the provinces be forced to shoulder the costs? He commended Mr. O’Neill for his efforts but saw flaws in the amendment.
The time allowed for discussion expired, and this item, Bill C-254, was dropped from the Order Paper.
Respect for Life Week Work of Pro-Live Movement Mr. John Gormley (Pc. The Battlefords-Meadow Lake)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of the Members that this week has been designated Respect for Life Week in Canada. The goal of this week is to heighten public awareness of the work of the pro-life movement in Canada. The pro-life movement embodies the concerns of millions of Canadians who view the rights to life of the unborn as a fundamental human right.
Several years ago over one million Canadians signed a petition to this Parliament to afford legal protection for the unborn. Every year in Canada over 65,000 pregnancies end in abortion. This needless waste of life must be addressed by all of us as concerned Canadians working to reform attitudes and to change laws. During this Respect for Life Week may we, not only parliamentations, but all Canadians, rededicate ourselves to the respect for every human life.
Therapeutic Abortion Committee’s Approval Procedures Mr. Jim Jepson (PC, London East)
Mr. Speaker, the death of a young Ottawa woman on January 23, 1986, while undergoing a therapeutic abortion, has confirmed what everyone suspected. In many cases therapeutic abortion committees are no more than a rubber stamp.
Erin Shannon’s abortion was approved at 8 a.m. even though the committee did not meet until 10 a.m. Her abortion was initiated by 10:35 a.m. Apparently this is not unusual. The committee routinely approves 40 abortion applications at its weekly meetings which last only 20 minutes. That gives about 30 seconds to the consideration of each case.
Under our laws a therapeutic abortoin committee should guarantee that a woman contemplating a pregnancy termination has received reliable information about her own and her baby’s health, as well as information about the more positive alternatives to an abortion. These factors should also influence the decision of a committee on an application for abortion. This does not happen now, and the entire committee process is a meaningless farce.
I urge the Honourable Members of the House seriously to consider changing our laws.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Sixty seconds.