Something very serious is coming out of the Borowski trial in Regina. It is not just a matter of deciding when life begins and whether or not abortion is murder. Truth itself is on trial.
Daily at this trial a group of women marched outside the courtroom, with tape covering their mouths – to signify that this was a trial dominated by men and therefore invalid.
This is the theme which the media have taken up vociferously: “It’s women who will be affected by the outcome,” says Pat McNally of the Toronto Star, “but the main players in the drama are men.”
Think about this. The inference is: if women were the legal counsels and sat on the bench, the result would come out differently. It’s not the truth that matters. It’s all a question of who has the whip hand. Whether or not life begins at conception becomes, not a matter of fact to be ascertained by legal argument, but an opinion to be decided to suit the media lobby.
This ambivalence toward truth has infected the whole abortion debate from the beginning. In the days when I was broadcasting daily, I too believed that life began only at birth with that very first a-a-ah of the indrawn breath. When it was explained to me, however, that the unborn have heart beats at 25 days after conception, and brain signals at 7 weeks, that they laughed, felt pain, and cried … I changed my mind.
I took it for granted that other people, when informed properly, would change theirs. I found my views, expressed on the air, stirred hostility instead. I was accused of obscenity; abortion doctors called me long distance across country to tell me that an unborn child was only a tumor; broadcast managers said my comments were bad for business. I was effectively silenced.
It was my first encounter, in a democratic country, with the kind of manipulation of truth which I had hitherto associated only with the rise of Hitler. I never really recovered from the shock. I had learned that in Canada there were views one could not express, things one could not say, and succeed.
Of course, this kind of censorship through pressure extends to many other fields. There is a whole range of subjects – South Africa, communism, sex education, homosexuality, affirmative action, as well as abortion – which are all taboo for rational discussion in media.
Only the views of the largest pressure groups can be heard.
The idea that the truth about conception, life, and death, is to be decided not by science, not by law, not by reason, but by group pressure, is a blow to the whole concept of civilization. This is the principle of truth which is on trial in Regina. This is what hangs in the balance on the final judgment.
The poet W.B Yeats foresaw our plight fifty years ago when he wrote:
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack of conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.