By Jonathon Van Maren
Another so-called “controversy” over abortion has been sparked here in Canada. This time, it was triggered by the political pro-life organization We Need A Law (WNAL), which draws attention to Canada’s lack of abortion laws and calls for our politicians to act on the mandate they were given in the 1988 Supreme Court R v. Morgentaler ruling and pass legislation. According to my friend Mike Schouten, the director of WNAL, thirty billboards with the simple statement “Canada has no abortion laws” will be going up across the country from Victoria to Halifax. About 77% of Canadians think we already have abortion laws, he pointed out. It’s time to correct that misconception.
You’d think that this wouldn’t be particularly controversial. Billboards with a simple statement of fact, educating Canadians on the legal reality in their nation. What could be so controversial about that? But then you’d be forgetting that we live in Canada, where the media and most politicians are incapable of having a reasonable or mature conversation about this issue. Some pro-life people have been fooled into thinking that if pro-life activists focus on producing only inoffensive types of messaging and outreach, that controversy can be avoided. Time and again, that belief has been proven to be unfounded—and WNAL’s campaign is the latest example. Consider this nonsense, from Global News:
A billboard on one of Dartmouth’s busiest roads is generating public concern over access to abortion in Canada.
“I think it’s trying to foster fear and stigma and I think that kind of message can be really dangerous,” Sarah Baddeley said, the Halifax Chair of Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF).
The billboard is part of a national campaign by a pro-life organization called We Need a Law. The group is based out of British Columbia and says they’re trying to raise awareness around “the issue of abortion legislation.”
“We Need a Law, is an advocacy campaign-building support among Canadians and then asking our federal authorities to pass laws that do protect fetal interests,” Mike Schouten said, the director of We Need a Law.
Legal experts in Nova Scotia say the billboard sends “harmful messaging” and that there haven’t been any criminal laws with respect to abortion in Canada since 1988.
“It’s disappointing to see a sign like that come up because it’s not true that abortion is unregulated in Canada. Fear and stigma can be really significant barriers to access for a lot of people as they make a choice that’s right for them and a billboard like that fosters that fear and stigma by suggesting that abortion somehow exists in a regulatory void, which is not the case,” Baddeley said.
Keep in mind here that these are not the sorts of signs that the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform uses. They do not show the public what happens to victims of abortion. They don’t even say what happens during abortion, or include any facts about fetal development. But according to abortion supporter Sarah Baddely, a sign that simply informs commuters what the legal reality in Canada is can be characterized as the promotion of “fear and stigma” and should be considered “really dangerous.”
Other so-called “legal experts” called the dissemination of this bland legal fact “harmful messaging,” and to back that statement up they literally pointed to the reality that the billboards are drawing attention to: “that there haven’t been any criminal laws with respect to abortion in Canada since 1988.” Baddely then added that abortion is regulated in Canada, while of course not mentioning that abortion is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and that any guidelines that exist are simply that: Guidelines. As our discombobulated “legal experts” pointed out, there are no criminal laws, and thus it is possible to abort a baby in the last month of pregnancy. The reason Baddely considers this sort of fact to be dangerous is that it is dangerous to the survival of her preferred political outcome: Most people recognize that this is an unacceptable legal status quo. I have talked to countless Canadians on this issue, and nearly all of them are stunned to find out that we have no abortion laws.
This is how intellectually bankrupt Canada’s abortion activists are, and this is how badly they want to hide the truth from Canadians. They don’t just want to ban evidence of what abortion does to the pre-born human being developing in the womb, or censor facts about the abortion procedure or fetal development. No, even a campaign that simply tells Canadians that we have no laws on abortion is unacceptable to them, because they are terrified that if pro-life activists continue to address the widespread ignorance surrounding the abortion issue, they will begin to lose support. And so they infantilize Canadians by claiming that telling us what our legal regime looks like is “dangerous,” hoping that they can respond to facts with fear-mongering.