In the middle of the Daigle controversy at the end of July, a full-page appeared in Journal de Montreal. It showed a pair of hands cupped around a candle flame and protecting it; the only word of text was a name – “Chantal.” Without actually saying it, the picture asked a question: is the flame going to be kept alive, or is it going to be snuffed out?
The protests against the injunction which prevented Miss Daigle from having an abortion were sickening. In cities from east to west, crowds of people, mostly women behaving like furies or harpies, paraded through the streets carrying signs like “Keep your hands off my body” and “We need free choice, not a return to butchers and savagery.” Henry Morgentaler took part in a march in Montreal carrying a coathanger. Editorially and in their news reports, the daily newspapers demonstrated their sympathy for the decision of this poor girl and for the cause of baby killing.
As we read about these events and saw them on television, many of us must have remembered what we felt like following the Morgentaler decision in January 1988. Could this really be our country? Could Canadians, especially Canadian women, be taking to the streets in protest, not against the taking of a life, but against its preservation? The Bible tells of a Canaanite idol named Moloch to whom children were sacrificed as burnt offerings. Do our women still offer sacrifice to Moloch – the sacrifice of their own children? Are the women of Canada as bloodthirsty as the tricoteuses (the knitting women) of the Terror in the French Revolution who complained that the guillotine wasn’t working fast enough?
Clamoring for death
Those clamoring for the blood of Miss Daigle’s baby included doctors, lawyers, law professors, politicians, columnists and other makers of public opinion – all the really advanced and enlightened people in our society. But now we understand just how enlightened they are. They are the dinosaurs, the troglodytes, the people who refuse to accept the evidence of reason and their senses. Pro-life advocates are used to being called behind the times; in reality, they find themselves on the side of science, reason and progress.
Henry Morgentaler is fond of referring to the child in the womb as a “project”; columnist June Callwood recently referred to it as “scraps of humanity.” Such is ignorance.
This generation is the first ever to have a reasonably complete picture of the development of human being.
In 1930 the liberation of a human egg from the ovary was observed; in 1944 the union of the human sperm and ovum; in the 1950s, three further advances occurred. First, the direct diagnosis and treatment of a baby before birth became a reality. Second, the physical environment and behaviour of the fetus became accessible to study. Third, the genetic code was cracked – the instructions which determine whether the new individual is a boy or girl, tall or short, excitable or placid.
Doctors Liley and LeJeune described it as ironic that just when the embryo and fetus arrive on the medical scene there should be sustained pressure to make him or her a social nonentity.
In the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1973, the fetus was valued at precisely zero. Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, seemed sometimes to doubt the existence of the unborn child; at one point he referred to the state’s interest in the fetus not as an interest in actual life but in a “theory of life”.
In similar vein, columnist Doug Fisher recently wrote that Parliament or the courts should rule on whether the fetus is a human being or not. This is like asking these bodies to determine whether the earth is flat or round, or whether water runs uphill or downhill. Clearly, politicians would be very foolish if they tried to contradict facts of science. These are either taken for granted or, if need be, confirmed.
Such is the situation with abortion. Canadian law is utterly behind the times. Now that human life before birth is under attack, the time has come for Canadian law to catch up with science.
Science presents simple facts of nature. By 35 days, Liley and LeJeune said in 1977, an electro-cardiogram can record the baby’s heart beats; by 45 days, an encephalograph can record its brain waves. As the offspring of human parents, it is a human being; it cannot possibly belong to another species. In other words, a human being does not begin when it is born from its mother. It starts at conception.