At America’s founding, the moral character of slavery was not in doubt. The contradiction of self-evident truths of man’s God-given rights being held in tandem with an iniquitous institution that violated those right by treating people as property was a scandal even then. Laws proposing slavery’s eventual abolition were discussed, and bans on slavery in new territories were proposed; its eventual elimination was a universal goal. The contradiction, however, proved too corrupting to rectify and, slowly, slavery mutated from a necessary evil into a positive good, they thought. In the decades preceding the Civil War, defenses and justifications of slavery flourished as if to drown out the cries of conscience; healthy shame was supplanted by perverse and fatal pride.
In the 1990s, even an ardent advocate for unrestricted abortion like Bill Clinton had to qualify his support for our own century’s iniquitous institution; abortion, even for this acknowledged champion of infanticide, ought to be “safe, legal and rare.” But, just as slavery corroded a culture’s moral sense, the toleration of abortion has eroded even Clinton’s slight concession to conscience: like dictators in a prison state, infanticide must now be greeted with loud and feigned enthusiasm. Ours is the age of the “ShoutYourAbortion” hashtag because its obvious evil needs increasing official validation.
The old Russian proverb remains true: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world,” and the witness provided by public events like 40 Days for Life, LifeChain, and the annual National March for Life are powerful contestations of the blatant lie of “social peace.” Yet there is a troubling corollary to this maxim: in the defense of a lie, the whole world must be overturned. Although access to abortion has never been easier, radical politicians like Kathleen Wynne have reactivated long-dormant “bubble zone” laws to protect the guilty consciences in the Province of Ontario. And, now Prime Minister Trudeau has imposed a requirement that any summer job receiving support through a government grant can only be staffed by an employee who signs an “attestation” that he or she supports “women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.”
There has been widespread surprise and outrage over Trudeau’s imposition of this ideological litmus-test. Commentators have rightly been shocked at the pettiness of the gesture and, even more so, that one set of charter rights – freedoms of conscience and religion – are being violated for the sake of non-existent ones: abortion has never been recognized as a charter right, even by our own radical jurists. Yet, in view of our unfortunate parallel with American slavery, such surprise is unwarranted: abortion, too, has transformed from a necessary evil into a positive good, in their minds.
The ideological defense of prenatal infanticide will lead us down the same dark road that was travelled by the proponents of slavery: we will eventually be obliged to sacrifice every value, every freedom, and every right to sustain a practice that contradicts our most fundamental right, the right to life. We can have a country, nourished by the oldest traditions of the West, which acknowledges the freedom and dignity of its citizens or we can have abortion; we cannot have both.
Forty years before the outbreak of the American Civil War, Thomas Jefferson saw that the paradox of his own age would lead to a similar crisis. Of slavery, he wrote: “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” But, although he was clear-eyed enough to notice that their situation was intolerable, Jefferson’s metaphors imagine an impossible balance: for nothing can be weighed against justice because, once that standard has been compromised, every other one eventually collapses. So too, a wolf may be patient, but her hunger is insatiable: after she has consumed everything else, she will finally devour the hand that only seems to hold her.
The ability of pro-life Canadians to receive government support for summer work is the most recent freedom that has been violated to satisfy the lupine institution of legal infanticide; others will follow. For instance, if summer workers cannot receive government funds unless they support abortion, how long will the government employ pro-lifers in the civil service? How long will Christian hospitals, churches, and charities enjoy their tax-exempt status?
Observers in the press have been shocked by the ease with which ideology conformity became a criteria for government funding and by the shallowness of the government’s defenses of this move. However, they have not noticed the connection between the two: there is no possible legal defense for a move, and it simply sets a precedent for further encroachments on the conscience rights of pro-life Canadians. No serious justification for this overstep is being advanced now because it will, in itself, become the cover for greater, more serious violations to come.
And so, one by one, our freedoms fall. We see, in our unborn brothers and sisters who have no protections at all, where this will all lead. Any nation that ignores the rights of the unborn will eventual spread this lawlessness beyond the stomach walls of pregnant women; no wolf will be held in perpetuity. The question, then, is how far will the fabric of our nation fray before we recognize the tension that is straining every legal right which we cherish? How much more freedom will be sacrificed in Canada before we realize that legal abortion is a wolf which will eventually devour the very same protections we deny to unborn children? How long will oppression remain only on one side of the womb?