In the December 1984 edition of the Presbyterian Record. Alex Calder, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, called for a change in the existing abortion law. He also referred to the weakness in his church’s position on abortion.
In a letter co-signed by his wife, Helen, Calder states that he believes that “babies are babies from the beginning” and that he is appalled and frightened by the whole idea of abortion. “I am ashamed of the Canadian Medical Association. And last of all, I am ashamed of myself for being a party to such sub-human activity.”
Another minister, Rev. Tony Plomp of Richmond, BC pointed out in a question and answer column in the same paper, that in 1976 the Presbyterian Church had forwarded a brief to the government, citing serious threats to the mother’s physical and mental health as reasons for abortion. The church had asked Parliament, to “amend the law with regard to abortion,” suggesting something very similar to the existing legislation passed in 1969. Plomp still thought pregnancies due to rape or incest should be considered special cases.
The church magazine has a circulation of 75 000. The 1981 national census show 800 000 Presbyterians in Canada. Church officials say there are about 164 000 active church members.
It is quite possible that Presbyterians meeting this June for their annual General Assembly may be asked to reconsider the Church’s position on abortion.
In an interview with the Toronto Star (February 16 1985) Calder, speaking as an ordinary church minister and not as Moderator, expressed the view that the law should be changed to allow therapeutic abortion only when there is “imminent threat to the mother’s life.” However, he noted that in recent years many people had become concerned seeing abortion practiced as an alternative birth control measure.