No right to abortion enshrined in Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
BY KEVIN ARSENAULT
GUARDIAN GUEST OPINION – January 19, 2018
Justin Trudeau was applauded at a town hall meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, on Jan. 10, 2018 after making the following statement: “There are organizations out there that couch themselves in freedom of speech, freedom of conscience… which of course you’re more than allowed to have whatever beliefs you like… but when those beliefs lead to actions determined to restrict a woman’s right to control her own body, that’s where I and I think we draw the line as a country…. And that’s where we stand on that.“
There are two fatal flaws in this statement which should have brought a challenge and correction from the crowd, not applause: First, there is no right to abortion enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; however, the Charter does guarantee citizens the fundamental freedoms of conscience and religion; and second, abortion is not simply about a woman’s control of her own body, it’s about ending the life of another human being, another body – the unborn human child within the womb of the woman’s body. That key scientific fact is never actually denied by the prime minister…. it’s simply completely ignored.
Justin Trudeau’s father (Pierre Trudeau), the prime minister responsible for establishing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within the Canadian Constitution in 1982, clearly understood that abortion was principally about exerting control over another person’s body when he said: “The fetus is not your body; it’s someone else’s body. And if you kill it you’ll have to explain” (Montreal Star, July 25, 1972).
That his son, the current prime minister, can now stand in front of a town hall crowd and calmly state that his government will indeed deny Canadians applying for Summer Jobs Program funding on the basis of their refusal to support abortion, when that position is based on: (1) the legal lie that a Charter right to abortion exists when it does not; and, (2) the scientific lie that abortion is not about exerting violent control over another human body, is very troubling.
It signifies that the Liberal government is content to ignore the two most important facts about abortion – and abdicate its responsibility to base policy on legal and scientific reasoning in the process – so as to make it possible for citizens to do what they may want to do (end the life of the unborn children they conceive, but don’t want) rather than providing education and appropriate federal legislation so citizens would do what they ought to do (allow the unborn children they conceive to be born).
If it’s true that the moral worth of a government can be measured by how it treats the most vulnerable, then surely we can’t be far from a complete slide into a culture of moral anarchy when unborn children – the most powerless and innocent among us (which every one of us once were) – are neither recognized as having the right to continue living, acknowledged as even existing, nor ever mentioned by the prime minister, the man who has the constitutional responsibility as leader of the federal government – which was confirmed in the 1988 Supreme Court Morgentaler ruling – to ensure that the rights of the unborn are protected in a law that puts reasonable limits on abortion.