Wading into the abortion debate

Pun intended. ‘Roe v Wade’ was a landmark decision by the US Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. In the States in 1973, the decision was that a woman’s right to an abortion is determined by her current trimester of pregnancy.

It seems that Canada – at least our current, federal government – is wanting to step back from a forward-thinking way of doing things (which, I think it’s fair to say, is how Canada has been perceived by the international community until recently – we have been forward-thinking).  Here are some words from parliamentarians this week:

“We’re focused on how to make a positive difference to save the lives of mothers and children in the developing world,” Conservative MP Jim Abbott told the House of Commons Monday. “Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health may include family planning. However, Canada’s contribution will not include funding abortion.”

Abbott is the parliamentary secretary to International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who arrived in Halifax Monday for a two-day meeting with her G8 counterparts.

In a parliamentary debate on the issue last month, Oda said, “what we have said is that we are open to considering all options, including contraception, and addressing them.”

In Halifax, Oda confirmed that abortion funding is off the table so far as Canada is concerned but she committed to Canada to funding other family planning programs in developing countries, including the use of contraceptive methods.  (The Vancouver Sun)

An article in today’s Ottawa Citizen reads, “Abortion was ruled out Monday by International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who is meeting with her G8 counterparts in Halifax. It was the first time she had indicated whether Canada’s contribution to a G8 maternal health project would include financial support for family planning and abortion.”

I don’t always turn to an Okanagan-based publication for a progressive take on an issue, but I think this UBCO student has some worth-while words to share:

I want to take a moment and offer you, kind reader, working definitions of both Pro-Choice and Anti-Choice. To do so, I would like to present a hypothetical example. Let’s meet Anne. She’s a woman who hates abortions, thinks they are evil, would never have one no matter what and would do her best to dissuade the women she knows from ever having one as well. Is Anne Pro-Choice or Anti-Choice? As long as she is willing to admit that the final decision should be left up to the other women, Anne is Pro-Choice. Pro-Choice does not necessarily mean that you would ever have an abortion yourself because it’s not just about abortions; it’s about allowing women the right to make their own very important choice on this extremely important matter. Therefore, Anti-Choice should be used only to apply to those who would seek to deny women of their reproductive rights. In this context, is it so outrageous that some people might express happiness at the idea of Anti-Choice arguments being less prevalent (though, as I have argued, I do not believe this is really the case on this campus)? When a group is solely organized around the aspiration to roll back or remove the rights of women, why shouldn’t women who disagree fight ferociously to silence those who would deny them their rights? I, personally, am absolutely sick of some of the actions and strategies employed by the Anti-Choice movement as a whole, and I am sick of pussy-footing around and trying to seem respectful and concerned about a group whose goal is innately disrespectful to me. (The Phoenix News)

It seems to me that we run the risk of entrenching rules that we wouldn’t even apply to ourselves, when specific situations come in to play, and that leads to a fundamentalist way of thinking.

In principle, I do not agree with abortion.  However, I would never entrench that in law, nor would I disallow it in the broader conversation around birth control in my country or another.  I am “pro-choice” in the sense that we need options – not just some of us, all of us (domestically and internationally).  To remove that is to limit freedom.

Freedom is what the gospel story is about.  …that’s this political pastor’s stance for today!


Posted on April 28, 2010, in Tyler's occasional web log. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Non-governmental aid agencies serving in the developing world are troubled by Canada’s stand on not funding abortion – I am too. A right to choose, especially for women in under privileged circumstances, is essential. Through this move Canada has declared itself right wing – we know that its the Conservative Party and not Canada, but the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way.


  2. I have always found it ironic that the people in this world who are most likely to be “Anti-Choice” are also the same people who work so hard to make it more difficult for women to CHOOSE not to have abortions.

    The same political parties (in this case, the Conservatives,) who are anti-choice cut programs that help single-mothers, make education less attainable, and make it more expensive for low-income families to make a decent wage.

    Now, they want to take those same policies to the rest of the world.

    I personally would never have an abortion, but if I made the rules, I would probably make it easier for other women to choose life as well. Give those women true FREEDOM and ABILITY to make that choice…instead of putting them between a rock and a hard place.

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