Canadians are being urged to demand a strong new law to prohibit abortion at any stage, Cardinal Carter told Prime Minister Mulroney in a letter dated February 29, 1988.
In a strongly worded letter, endorsed by a range of officials including the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Emmett Cardinal Carter told Ottawa that “ permanent legislation… must be introduced as soon as possible; we will not be satisfied with anything less than legislation which respects human life at all stages.”
The letter says Catholics are working shoulder to shoulder with those “ not of our religious conviction.” It has been endorsed by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, Alliance for Life ( the Winnipeg centered umbrella of educational pro-life groups), Campaign Life Coalition ( the political arm of pro-life), the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women’s League, Right to Life of Toronto, and the Ontario Bishops.“ We have blundered into a morass of selfishness and greed, which is making a lot of thoughtful people ashamed of the current situation. Calls for action to correct this intolerable situation are coming from every side,” the letter says.
In the second part of the letter, Cardinal Carter, the Archbishop of Toronto, spells out in uncompromising language the pro-life stance of the church, noting that the Supreme Court ruling did not make abortion a right and that “ if there is to be balancing of interests between the mother and the child as suggested by the Supreme Court, it must be from conception.”
He goes on to say: “ Nor will we accept a compromise based on any length or stage of pregnancy. A human fetus in the womb three weeks old or one week old is as much an individual and as valuable to society in the sight of God and in our sight, as a child of 24 weeks.”
While admitting that there might be times when it may be necessary for doctors to take action that would result in “ the inadvertent and undesired death of the unborn child when the mother’s life is in danger,” he said they should always seek to save the lives of both the mother and child.
“There can be no question of our accepting formulae or escape hatches… We are pledged to deploy all our influence and all of our strength to obtain this result.”
The Third part of the letter deals with politicians: “We do however lay before the citizens of this country, and in particular those who adhere to our religious faith, the principles upon which the Christian and Jewish traditions have evolved.”
“We will challenge our people to form their consciences in the light of God’s manifest command: Thou shalt not kill, and the obvious need to respect human life wherever it is found and that from the first moment of conception.”
“In that light, they must ask politicians of all parties, where they stand on the protection of human life at all stages. As to legislators there is no excuse to claim that they cannot impose their own personal views in drafting legislation: “No one can have an attitude of pliant consent or passivity in the face of abortion.” ( Pope John Paul II).
The letter was read or distributed at all the Masses in the 208 churches of the Toronto archdiocese on March 6th. It was sent to all MPs and Members of the Ontario legislature. Campaign Life Coalition is distributing it across the country.