On the weekend, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne wrote about the need for an abortion debate in Canada. It is worth reading, especially his point that even feminist justice Bertha Wilson — the only Supreme Court justice to say there is a right to an abortion — could countenance restrictions on abortion. The obvious, though only implied question in Coyne’s column is that if Bertha Wilson could accept some restrictions on a woman’s abortion license, why can’t our parliamentarians?
Coyne’s conclusion is worth pointing out — that having the debate is a good thing, even if nothing changes:
Possibly, after a full and open debate, we might decide we wished to continue to have no abortion law — by policy, rather than by default. That is how a democracy decides such questions.
Right now, our abortion “policy” is the result of decisions made by the unelected: the Supreme Court and a tied vote in the Senate (which killed the Mulroney abortion bill in the early 1990s). Ideally, public policy should be decided by our elected representatives. Our January editorial on the Woodworth motion talked about the need for a parliamentary discussion:
That not all Canadians share our vision of justice is a fact we readily acknowledge and seek to change. Unlike our opponents, however, we have no fear of a democratic debate. Indeed, we welcome the opportunity to convince our countrymen of the decency and reasonableness of our cause.
What, really, are abortion supporters so afraid of? It must be that they know their arguments are not all that convincing and won’t stand up to scrutiny.