After the Morgentaler decision of January 11988, Anglicans Primate Michael Peers appointed a committee of three to study the three issues surrounding rounding abortion and make recommendations concerning it: Phyils Creighton, a feminist who has favoured abortion for so-called compassionate reasons since 1966 when she authorized the report of the Anglicans Task Force ; Diane Marshall, assistance clinical director of an institute of family living in Toronto School of Theology. Their 26-page report appeared in April 1989.
The essence Anglican position, the Report says was succinctly stated by H. R. S Ryan, a participant in General Synod discussions of abortion and a former Queen’s law professor:
“We would prefer that there were no abortions but we do not condemn those perform for the performed for the purpose of protecting the life or of heath of the mother.”
Thus the Report confirms that absolutely nothing has changed from22 years ago, when the Anglicans Task Force reported to the Parliament that abortion should not be used to solve social “problems…” ( clause 9) and then added that the “termination of pregnancy should be permissible whenever life or health is threatened, with health understood “ in its broadest sense (clause 13). One meets the very same words about the “sacredness of human life” in this report as this may be found in all the preceding ones – such that Anglicans have consistently that the fetal life commands reverence and protective concern and that abortions poses grave moral problems: “Celebrating human life as the gift of god, and every life as unique of inestimable value, the Church has seen abortion as always a tragedy fraught with moral ambiguity.’ Well, no doubt some Anglicans view the issue as described here. Meanwhile, the Anglican Church’s official teaching remains firmly in support legalized abortion.
What is new?
So what is new in this report entitled Abortion in a new perspective? Well, nothing except that the Committee now accepts the final word law and Professor H.R.S Ryan’s interpretation of January 28, 1988 Supreme Court ruling. Ryan’s interpretation becomes the ultimate frame work for new abortion legislation. And according to Ryan:
“It is probably safe to predict that abortion will be more freely available in the first stage of pregnancy that in later stages, but one can not confidently predict unrestricted availability at any stage. One night point seems clear: abortion for the sake of life and health of pregnant woman will be broadly interpretation. Psychological stresses not necessarily obviously or directly affecting physical health will be taken into account.”
Professor Ryan adds that “licit abortions must be made available in many easily accessible though out the country, not necessarily in hospitals.” That the authors now substitute Canadian law and its board interpretation for Christian theology, just as they substituted sociological considerations in the past, is not so surprising. This report has the same flaws as it predecessors. Brief though it is, there are many aspects of it which are questionable.
One it is feminist emphasis; somehow or other, it makes it seem that, until full equality is achieved between man and woman (whatever that may mean), abortion will be understandable and perhaps acceptable. It even joins Madame Justice Bertha Wilson in saying “We women need to have control of our own lives and fertility.” The authors a great emphasis on sex education and contraception , even though it shows again and again that these do not lower abortion rates, rather they increase them. (It even recommends “exploring community resources” such as Planned Parenthood and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada.) Finally, the authors bring in a welter of spurious considerations, from housing to pollution, that make seem that abortion is solely the result of poverty and misfortune.
But let return to the central point: the authors urge legislation, “to make abortion available equitably across the country as a therapeutic measure for women whose pregnancies endanger their life or their physical or mental health.” In other words, they recommend that the gates remain open and abortion on demand continue to be the Canadian norm.
This document has nothing to do whatever with Christian Theology. On the contrary, it is outright surrender to the ideology of secularism and to the permissive society.
It is a pity that the Anglican Church continues to believe that the mother-versus-the child situation continues to exist, outside of fiction. It is a pity that it refuses to listen to one of its own distinguished members, Dr. Harley Smyth, who has said repeatedly that there is no such thing as a therapeutic abortion, and defines abortion as “mass elective feticide for non-medical reasons.” There is no moral ambiguity about abortion; it is wrong. That is Christian tradition.