13 January 2009

92% of Canadians Don’t Know the Law

… on abortion that is. According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 92% of Canadians don't know that abortion is legal over the whole 9 months of pregnancy in Canada. (Read the story here.)Unfortunately, this doesn't surprise me in the least. Most people I've spoken to about abortion don't believe me when I say there is no law on abortion in Canada, and that Canada is the only country in world that has no law on abortion. The pro-choicers I'm speaking with generally come back with a story about a woman they know who couldn't get an abortion because the doctor said he/she couldn't after 20/22/24 weeks. While those stories may be true (a lot of doctors refuse to do abortions after 20 weeks and especially after the child is viable), they don't change the fact that there is no law on abortion in Canada.

This poll also confirmed another suspicion I've had for some time- that Canadians don't want abortion to be available on demand for the entire 9 months of pregnancy. For example, only 6% of the poll's respondents believed a woman should be able to have an abortion of the child is of the sex they don't want (generally female children are targeted by sex-selected abortion). 95% of respondents felt women should be given full disclosure on all options available to them. And 95% said information about physical side effects of abortion should be given. 96% said information about the psychological effects of abortion should be given.

And yet, in Canada, sex selected abortions are legal. There is no law saying that a woman has to be informed of all her options. No law says information on physical and psychological effects of abortion need to be given. Many women who ask about side effects are told that abortion is completely harmless and that there will be no long lasting effects. They aren't told of the possible increased risk of breast cancer, or the danger to their future fertility. They aren't told that they can suffer significant psychological harm- such that they are at increased risk of suicide, depression and addiction.

And yet, a June 2008 poll by Angus Reid showed that 46% of Canadians are in favour of the legal status quo on abortion. What does this mean then? It seems to fly in the face of the results of this poll. I think it means a couple of things. First, Canadians are uniformed about abortion. We get so much of our news and entertainment from the US that in many cases we assume what's going on in the US must be what's going on in Canada. Second, it means that the pro-life movement in Canada needs to step it up. We need to get information out there so people know what the law is. An uniformed public is the greatest danger unborn children face because the uninformed will vote based on what they think is the law, not what is the law. Misinformation is a huge danger. 46% of Canadians favour the law on abortion (meaning no law) staying the same, and yet 92% don't know what the law is.

We can win the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Canadians if we simply inform them. The pro-life movement has science on its side- we can prove that the unborn is a human being. As a human being, the child is entitled to full human rights protections. The fact that the law currently allows for indiscriminate killing of human life is a violation of human rights. If we simply present the facts, we can, at the very least, get people thinking. If they start thinking, they will start talking to others, and in that way, lives can be saved.

In Canada 300 children are aborted per day (Stats Can figures). 92% of Canadians don't know the law around why they are aborted. It's time to start speaking out everyone. I challenge you- every time you talk to someone about abortion, ask them if they know the law. If they say they do, ask them what they think it is. If they are wrong, (politely) inform them of the truth. Here's a quick summary of the legal status of abortion in Canada:

  • Until 1969 abortion was illegal in Canada; then the Criminal Code was changed to allow abortion when it threatened the health of the mother, but a legislative scheme was enacted to require any woman wanting an abortion to see a panel of doctors who would determine if the pregnancy threatened her health
  • In 1988, R. v. Morgentaler was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada; in this 5-4 decision the court struck down the 1969 Criminal Code provision on abortion as unconstitutional because it violated the mother's s. 7 Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person
  • This decision wiped out the only law in Canada on abortion, making it so that there is no law in Canada on abortion
  • There have been no laws enacted on abortion since the 1969 provision was struck down; there is no law on abortion in Canada.

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