In December 1984 the Anglican Churchman hailed the acquittal of Henry Morgentaler as an opportunity for the government to make abortions “available with a minimum of delay” to “all women…whether through a hospital or a…freestanding clinic” without the interference of a hospital abortion committee. In the following month’s issue – after a series of complaints – the editor solemnly declared that the editorial did not represent a position in favour of abortion on demand.
In January 1988, three years later, the same paper published an editorial entitled “Police cannot shirk duty.” (Notice the word ‘shirk,’ used to describe conscientious objection). It rejected Mother Teresa’s letter defending Constable Packer. Instead, the editorial stated, “Constable Packer must be punished because he refused to do his job which is to provide protection to the people of Toronto.”
Beginning with the January 1989 edition, the monthly newspaper changed its name to Anglican Journal-Canadian Churchman being regarded now as male chauvinist and sexist. The change of name did not mean a change of policy.
In March the Journal published its latest abortion editorial under the title “Civil Disobedience no answer.” The current ‘rescue’ operations, the editor writes, are illegal actions. They have no place in a democracy. They carry “ugly connotations of mob rule.”
Pro-lifers, the editorial states-and one notices with some relief the use of that term rather than that of ‘anti-abortionists’-should continue what they have been doing in the past. They should imitate Mother Teresa quietly speaking on Parliament Hill last year, and they should continue to quietly distribute literature and even continue to quietly picket.
But above all they should devote their efforts to alleviate poverty. This is the real source of abortions, the editor states, and quotes his church’s latest report on abortion, adding that this report does not approve of abortion on demand.
The next issue of the Journal carried three letters.
One pointed out that given the failure of all their protests against abortion, civil disobedience is justified. A second complains that the February issue carried only one oblique reference to abortion in its 28 pages. A third declared that recognition of the unborn as persons is not a religious issue.
If the paper sidesteps many of the central questions about Operation Rescues, therefore, some of its readers object to its doing so.