In Spain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Czech Republic, and Italy, abortions are allowed up to 12 weeks gestation. Some exceptions may be allowed, but these are stringently detailed and regulated. The news that a woman from Montreal sought and received an abortion well into her third trimester is a visceral reminder that it is well past the time for Canada to step up and implement a sensible abortion law that protects pre-born human rights.
According to Postmedia News, the unnamed woman was 30 weeks pregnant and decided that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy due to test results showing abnormalities with her soon-to-be-born child. Her lawyer, Jean-Pierre Ménard, said that by the time she finally secured an abortion at the third hospital she visited, she was 35 weeks pregnant. The woman apparently told Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper, “I didn’t want my child to suffer their whole life.”
Stories like this one are a direct result of negligent lawmakers – from across the political spectrum – who lack the courage to pass laws on this delicate issue, even though they have been instructed to do so by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Morgentaler decision nearly thirty years ago. Madam Justice Bertha Wilson, who served on the bench at the time and rendered the most liberal opinion of the justices in favour of a legalized abortion, advocated an approach that would balance those rights with the “state’s interest in protecting the unborn.”
This story is not as rare as some make it to be. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada itself estimates that there were over 104,000 abortions in 2014. And the Canadian Institute of Health Information reported that of the abortions for which we know the gestational age (some places refuse to report), 2.4% are done after 20 weeks. That is over 2,500 abortions after 20 weeks gestation!
Because of Parliament’s refusal to act, children are being aborted shortly before birth, simply as a result of adults who deem their lives not worth living. Attempts to create a perfect society by destroying those who are less than perfect leaves all of us vulnerable. The question is not one of perceived ability, but whether the pre-born child is fully human and therefore deserving of the right to life.
Furthermore, to accept fetal abnormalities as a legitimate reason for abortion is to accept that certain people are less valuable than others and their lives are not worth living, that society would be better off without them. This is a dangerous view not only because prenatal testing is so often wrong which would lead one to believe that healthy babies are aborted, but also because it devalues those living with disabilities and is an affront to the dignity and value of the many Canadians who live with special needs as well as those who selflessly care for them. Abortions carried out because of perceived disabilities deprive the world of unique and precious individuals who will have an untold impact on the many lives they touch.
Politicians need to step up and take responsibility for allowing this discrimination; they need to stop viewing pre-born children as a political liability and work towards getting Canada in line with every other democracy in the world. Even countries that are more liberal than Canada have the decency to ensure that the smallest members of the human family are afforded the same protections as the rest of us.