I don’t think that the abortion debate ever went away. The social peace, as Jean Chretien called it, was a combination of media-imposed silence and politically inspired cowardice, but there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who passionately oppose the status quo and polls show the public is deeply divided. In most years, there are more members of pro-life groups in Canada than there are people enrolled in the political parties.
So what has changed? Why is there more attention to the issue now? I think there are a number of things going on:
1) Abortion became a political issue after Michael Ignatieff tried to make a big deal that the government’s maternal health initiative didn’t include baby-killing;
2) The media thinks it can score points against the Conservative government by highlighting the growing Religious Right in Canada (see saturation coverage of Marci MacDonald’s book);
3) The renewed student campus activism that is highlighted when student unions and school administrations clamp down on their free speech/free association rights;
4) Pro-lifers don’t need the legacy media to get out their message anymore — blogs and websites help deliver pro-life news and information in a way that was not possible before;
5) Young people know that the licentious culture in which their parents grew up is a raw deal and many are not going to accept the low expectations that today’s “adults” have for high school and university students; youth are rebelling against the Culture of Death in unexpected ways and won’t stand for the semi-official censorship that has been in place for the past two decades — see points 3&4 which are tied to point 5.
Michael Coren wrote about the emergence of abortion as a publicly discussed issue on his blog a few days ago and his conclusion is worth highlighting:
At the very least we should agree that the new discussion is healthy for democracy and intelligent debate. Unless, that is, people are frightened of being confronted with a truth that might frighten them.