On March 22, Garry Breitkreuz became the latest MP to provide federal pro-life legislators the opportunity to keep the abortion issue before the consciences of those on Parliament Hill. His motion, urging the feds to redefine “human being” in the Criminal Code to include unborn babies, was addressed several weeks ago by several MPs, even though it had previously been declared “non-votable” by the committee on private members’ business.
Speaking in favour of the motion were Mr. Breitkreuz, Tom Wappel, Grant McNally and Paul Szabo. Yvon Charbonneau, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, also spoke, but instead of addressing the substance of the bill, used the opportunity to boast about the high ethical commitment the feds apparently have when it comes to reproductive technologies. Mr. Wappel effectively exposed the hypocrisy between this position and the Liberal position on abortion.
Before citing some of the encouraging words in the debate, I can’t resist first drawing your attention to some of the bizarre comments made by the Bloc Quebecois’ status of women critic. I am sure that it was the first time in ages that the House of Commons has heard such a stridently feminist speech. Diane Bourgeois’ rhetoric is so stale, its funny – although, at the same time, tragic. Following are a couple of excerpts:
“[I]t must be acknowledged that this bill is treacherous, deceitful and misleading.”
“It was in the middle ages that abortion was considered criminal. Assemblies of bishops – men – condemned it in a number of decrees. I would point out to members that today’s proposal is being advanced by men. History makes abundant mention of the fact that attitudes toward abortion were influenced by religious beliefs, customs and attitudes to women and the family.”
“Today, in these so-called modern times, religious considerations continue to surround the debate on abortion. However, in the Bible, the Christian message does not mention it. What may be understood from the Bible is that each woman is free to choose independently and according to her own conscience”
“This brings me to a discussion of the fundamental rights of women…. It is for her and her alone to choose in full knowledge of the facts to end a pregnancy…. To prevent a woman from ending a pregnancy obliges her to bear a child, and this obligation is contrary to the fundamental rights of women.”
Mr. Wappel couldn’t help but respond to some of her absurd comments. Regarding her attempt to use Scripture, he said, “[Diane Bourgeois] mentioned the Bible…. I would just like to remind her about a little story in the Bible which I am sure she is familiar with. When Mary, who was going to become the mother of Jesus, visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was carrying John the Baptist, the baby leapt in her womb, says the Bible, in anticipation of the great joy of Jesus being born. The Bible uses those words, the baby leapt in her womb. Not the fetus, not the zygote, not the embryo, but the baby leapt in her womb for joy.”
Grant McNally contributed some valuable comments to the debate: “I want to state my unequivocal and unqualified support for the motion and be very clear about that.”
“It is in statute right now that a human is a human when the person leaves the birth canal. That creates a dilemma for many of us specifically because of the technology and advancement within our world in terms of medical sciences. We know that in one room we may have a doctor performing microsurgery with the latest technology to save the life of what some may call a fetus, an unborn child who might be six months in its development, while in the very next room we might have somebody else in a very similar situation having the termination of a pregnancy, or an abortion.”
“My Bloc colleague also said she was speaking for her party. I think that was a mistake because I know she has colleagues that would identify themselves as pro-life.”
Paul Szabo’s brief comments made reference to his work on fetal alcohol syndrome. “I believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death…. One of the issues I worked on in the House was fetal alcohol syndrome which relates to the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and leads to very serious problems. The House might be interested to know that a number of jurisdictions in the United States have laws where chronic or irresponsible drinking during pregnancy is now considered a criminal offence and is equal to or equivalent to child abuse. That was very interesting because it was the first time I heard of the rights of the unborn being protected.”