The following text was issued on March 17, 1988 as “Notes on CCCB Permanent Council stand on abortion.” Certain phrases of particular importance in revealing the frame of mind of those who phrase these notes have been printed in bold.
1) Each human life begins with conception. From conception, a separate and unique human life is present, with all the chromosomes and genes necessary for a human life.
2) Respect for the sanctity of all human life is not just a Catholic tenet, nor even just Christian. Now is the time for all persons of goodwill to work to build a society hospitable to all life.
3) The debate about an abortion law is part of a larger question that includes the mater of experimentation on foetal tissue. An abortion law that puts the foetus entirely at risk during the first trimester would open a Pandora ’s Box of problems. Abortion can’t be dealt with in isolation from complex bioethical issues.
4) There is no question of depriving women of rights. What an eventual law must deal with is how to handle conflicts of rights of mother and child. In this, the right to life itself is primary.
5) Canada’s legal tradition has been to defend life from conception to natural death. This tradition calls for a law to respect unborn life, in the context of a general social policy aimed at building a society hospitable to life. All levels of government are challenged to this end. Services and programmes to enhance human life are a particular challenge to provincial and local governments under the Canadian Constitution.
6) There can be no quick fix of this complex issue. What is at stake is the country’s whole future. Just as the natural resources must be protected for future generations, so members of the coming generation must have full, life-enhancing protection and support. Our common future depends on our respect for all the beings of nature.
7) Bishops want to praise and support those working to protect life and enhance society. The matter of dialogue with pro-life groups is particularly important.
8) Regarding direct political action –
8.1 Until a new law is passed:
– Duty of all to work for best possible law to protect all life
– Morality supercedes law: civil law always tries to reflect morality. In a pluralistic society, what civil law can do may be limited.
– Parliamentarians must keep in mind the whole issue of life, and the extending implications of any abortion law. It is not just a matter of replacing Section 251, important as that is.
8.2 After a new law:
– It is to be expected that efforts to put in place a better law, and the many programmes to respect life, will have to continue. We may have to live with a law we find defective but will continue to try to improve it.