Pro-life people are running out of patience waiting for the Devine government to demonstrate the courage of it’s prolife convictions. Before he was elected, Premier Devine said frequently that his first priorities were God and family. It was in this context that he committed himself and his government to strengthening the protection of the unborn in this province.
However, since coming to power, the Devine priorities have been virtually all economic. When it came to choosing between God and Mammon, the choice was more often the latter. The attempt to retain the Crow rate for grain provides an excellent example. Premier Devine and his ministers have been increasingly expending time, energy and money to save the Crow. This is in marked contrast to the apparent lack of time, energy and money expended to save the unborn, some 1,500 of whom have died at the hands of abortionists since this government came to power a year ago. Surely, Premier Devine is not laboring under the delusion that the Crow is closer to God than the unborn.
Repeatedly during their first year in office, representatives of the government have re-stated intentions to do something about abortion. But, not once have these words been matched with pro-life action. On the contrary, the government has even taken action that could be considered anti-life.
Health Minister Graham Taylor, for example, was quoted by the Saskatoon Star Phoenix shortly after the election as saying there is a good chance any groups counseling women about abortion will be deemed ineligible for any future provincial funding. Later the same month, he funded Planned Parenthood to the tune of more than $50,000.00 for 1982/83, even though Planned Parenthood has advertised that it engages in abortion counseling.
True, Mr. Taylor had an answer when pro-life people protested. He was quoted in the Star Phoenix (June 25) as stating that representatives of Planned Parenthood assured him that they do not promote abortion and on that basis he assured them the grant. However, only a few months later, in October, Planned Parenthood joined the Saskatchewan Pro-Choice Coalition in sponsoring the appearance in this province of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, whose sole purpose in coming was to promote unrestricted abortion through illegal, free-standing abortion clinics.
When pro-life people protested again, Mr. Taylor replied that he has written to the president of Planned Parenthood Saskatchewan to request further information on this matter. It is difficult to see what further information is needed, since by promoting Dr. Morgentaler Planned parenthood violated all the conditions under which it received the provincial grant. But Planned Parenthood still has its money, and Mr. Taylor is still spouting pro-life words, while stopping short pro-life deeds.
The story of the government’s pro-life commitment begins with Premier Devine himself, who sought pro-life support when he first entered politics. Campaign Life helped him win his first PC nomination when he answered “yes” in writing to our 1978 provincial election questions, deemed to identify pro-life candidates.
Later, when he became PC provincial leader, Mr. Devine again sought our support, and addressed our March 20, 1981 annual meeting in Saskatoon. He re-stated his personal pro-life position, said he had the support of his party caucus, and indicated that if his party won the upcoming election, it would form a government committed to life. He then challenged pro-lifers to adopt a policy that would get their policies implemented at the highest levels.
“If you believe in life and you find a political party that shares your views, then support it, because if you elect that party, you then have power, political power. This is nothing but practical politics.”
During questions he expressed concern that Planned Parenthood bypasses moral questions and that he “does not see any moral values in its program.”
Later that year, at the provincial PC convention in Saskatoon, pro-life resolutions were passed, and subsequently overwhelmingly adopted by the party, calling for whatever action is possible at the provincial level to restore full protection to the unborn; and urging that funding be stopped for organizations engaging in activities that to undermine the moral fabric of our society. Pro-life people were delighted at this public affirmation of a solid position on behalf of the unborn, but now are equally dismayed. We have difficulty seeing how the PCs can be so irresolute in putting into effect their resolutions.
Virtually on the eve of the 1982 provincial election, Mr. Devine made another major statement on the abortion issue. In a letter to the president of Campaign Life, he re-stated his commitment to “strengthening the protection of the unborn in this province.” He said he would be prepared. “…to fully re-examine the financing the funding of organizations that specifically advise the public that abortion on demand is an acceptable form of birth control.” He said further that he would make recommendations about the role and performance of therapeutic abortion committees in the province. Finally, he stated that “…the present government’s defense of the status quo is unacceptable.”
Regrettably, and tragically, the status quo premier Devine found unacceptable is being maintained, despite the change in government. The unborn are dying as before, the abortion committees are operating like rubber stamps, Planned Parenthood continues to enjoy government financial support, and pro-life people are protesting to no avail.
Last September, Campaign Life presented a major brief to the new government urging that it put an end to legal abortion in Saskatchewan by disbanding all therapeutic abortion committees. Since then, we have outlined in letters and in person, steps that could be taken to restore full protection of the unborn. We have been well received by members of the PC caucus, many of whom are very vocal on the side of life. But, so far, no action. In the meantime, the unborn are dying in Saskatchewan at the rate of 130 a month.
Walk for life in Saskatoon
Campaign Life Saskatchewan held a quiet walk outside City Hospital – not once, but EVERY Sunday from Mother’s Day in May to Father’s Day in June. About 50 people marched each Sunday and the final walk attracted over 300 people.
City Hospital representatives have refused to release abortion figures for the hospital, saying that the information is confidential but that the number of abortions performed are “not in excess.” There is evidence, however, that suggests that other surgical procedures are postponed to make room for the abortions in Saskatchewan, and that the “not in excess” number represents over 800 abortions a year.
On June 20, Dr. James McGettigan, president of Campaign Life Saskatchewan, addressed City Council, asking the aldermen to urge City Hospital to release abortion figures. He said that taxpayers had a right to have the information as the hospital is city owned and operated. The request was sent through to the mayor for decision, with little debate in Council.