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A Pyrrhic victory

by Jojo Ruba

There was something different about the defeat of Motion 312 this past week in the House of Commons. Sure, it was yet another motion put forth by a pro-life MP that was asking for something rather reasonable – to create a committee that would look at the current scientific evidence of when human life begins. And just like other reasonable motions in the past involving fetal rights, the media, opposition MPs and even government members vilified it before voting it down.

But I could sense something was different as I read and watched the reaction of abortion advocates to the motion’s defeat: they weren’t happy.

One would think that winning every political vote related even in the most oblique way to the abortion debate, over the last 40 years, would make them giddy. Instead, they’re angry. Jonathon Kay has a great list of quotes from some of their movement’s loudest advocates.

Even the extremist Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada wasn’t pleased. Its leader, Joyce Arthur, who once compared preborn children to dandruff, had little time to celebrate. Instead, her organization demanded that Status of Women minister, Rona Ambrose resign for voting for such a committee.

Why? Because according to Arthur, “Her job is to advance the rights and interests of women, so her Yes vote on the motion was a shocking failure and a slap in the face to the women of Canada. She’s proven herself to be unfit for the job and must resign immediately.”

The irony seems lost on Arthur that she’s attacking a woman for exercising her right to choose. Moreover, as the Minister on the Status of Women, she is responsible for representing the interests of all women, not just those who subscribe to Arthur’s radical views. If the right to choose is only about choosing abortion, then one truly can’t be pro-choice, right?

But I sense abortion advocates aren’t happy because they know that in the light of these motions, their political narrative is unraveling. Their arguments are being forced into the light of day where they are proving intenable.

When another MP, Ken Epp, attempted to pass a motion to punish those who kill preborn children that are wanted by their parents, Canadians were educated of the fact that abortion is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any or no reason – something unheard of even in the most liberal European democracies.

The same thing happened when Rod Bruinooge, put forward a motion to prevent the coercion of pregnant women to have abortions. Canadians were once again discussing whether abortion truly is a “free” choice.

And Stephen Woodworth’s motion, which simply asks a committee to look at when human life begins, educates us on another fact: that when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the abortion law in 1988, it never defined when human life begins. That’s a substantial fact because the law can’t guarantee human rights for Canadians unless it has an accurate definition of who is human.

The Supreme Court in fact, actually invited Parliament to take up the issue of balancing the rights of women and their preborn children. The Court itself, in subsequent cases, never defined when the rights of the preborn child should begin. Woodworth’s motion was not only commonsensical, it was something the Supreme Court wanted.

Abortion advocates argue that when the life of a preborn child is recognized, that would take away women’s rights to control their bodies. But the law already limits the rights of any citizen, male or female, to choose what they do with their bodies.

We can’t legally choose to use our bodies to harm someone else’s body. Abortion advocates understand this too. They have no qualms in demanding that Canadians’ right to choose be limited – that’s why we’re forced to fund abortions or are attacked when we choose to vote pro-life, just ask Rona Ambrose!

Besides, if abortion advocates are right and the fetus is simply part of a woman’s body then they should have no fear from a committee looking into when life begins.

But that’s why the defeat of Motion 312 is a Pyrrhic victory for abortion advocates. They have spent all their time arguing against MPs investigating when human life begins. Yet in doing so, they’ve been part of a debate that’s reminded Canadians that we need to investigate that issue. We’ve been reminded that our understanding of human developed has progressed and that our laws should reflect simple biological facts.

And as Canadians look into this issue, it will become obvious that it isn’t Rona Ambrose or Stephen Woodworth who is out of the Canadian mainstream. It is the position of abortion advocates who believe that killing preborn children at any stage of pregnancy for any reason or no reason at all, should be legal and publicly funded.