From Chinta Puxley at the Globe & Mail:
The new chairman of a secretive Parliamentary caucus opposed to abortion is pledging to rekindle the abortion debate in Canada and bring “more value” to the lives of unborn children.
Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he’s not interested in reopening the divisive issue, Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge told The Canadian Press people need to be better educated about Canada’s abortion stance, which he says puts the country in a “class of its own.”
“Very few Canadians appreciate the fact that essentially until a child takes its first breath, it has less value than a kidney,” says Mr. Bruinooge.
“In Canada you can’t remove your kidney and put it on eBay and auction it off. That is illegal. Whereas you actually can end a beating heart of an unborn child the second before it’s delivered. Most Canadians would agree that is truly a poor bioethical position for our country to be in.”
Pro-choice advocates say Canadian doctors only perform such later-term procedures if there’s a serious threat to the health of the mother or if it’s virtually certain the baby wouldn’t survive past birth. [more]
Think hard everyone. Have you ever seen a living or dead fetus auctioned on eBay? The kidney up for auction alongside the fetus up for auction doesn’t work. I can’t believe I’m saying that. You’d think Mr. Bruinooge could figure this out for himself. Fact is, he doesn’t want to.
The Conservative attempt to recast the “abortion debate” in terms more familiar to Americans is on display here. He doesn’t point to the fact that very few, if any, late-term abortions are performed in Canada. He doesn’t point out that any “late-term” abortions that are performed are not elective, but done to save the life of the mother or to end a pregnancy where the fetus is extremely ill. He plays in to an image, created by the anti-abortion movement, of thousands of dead babies littering the floors of Canadian hospitals and clinics. The bodies of the women who hosted them are conspicuously absent from this image, much less the true medical and emotional circumstances of abortion.
I’ll not pretend that I don’t have deep problems with the anti-abortion clan. I most certainly do. But I could get along with them a little better if they told the truth, if they didn’t try to sway people’s hearts and minds with factoids and images that are not only distortions, but outright lies.
We don’t have accurate Canadian statistics with respect to late-term abortions. I think whatever benefits might accrue from having them are offset by the invasion of privacy entailed by gathering them. I don’t even want to think about the emotional harm that would be visited on women who have had to undergo such procedures if they were then subjected to the harassment that would come from the supposed “pro lifers”.
What we do know is this [pdf]:
The Canadian Medical Association’s policy is to endorse abortions on request only up to 20 weeks. Hospitals and doctors in Canada comply with this policy. Women who need abortions past 20 weeks for compelling maternal health reasons or serious fetal abnormalities can get them in a few hospitals in Canada, but more often, these women are referred to clinics in the United States (Kansas, Washington State, and Colorado). These out-of-country procedures are generally funded by provincial governments, on the grounds that they are medically required and not easily available in Canada. The lack of availability occurs because later-term abortions require a high level of skill, experience, and dedication, and there are few providers willing or able to do them in Canada. Condemning “partial-birth” abortion or the D&X technique in Canada is simply part of a political effort to promote disinformation about abortion, and to undermine all abortion rights.
Also to be taken into consideration, this:
Mid-term abortions result from many factors, including the delaying factors noted above as well as the need for women to figure out their options, save up funds, travel (sometimes to another province), and make arrangements for childcare and time off work. These delaying factors affect young, poor, vulnerable, and non-urban women the most.
Not all late abortions are due to delay along these lines. For some, the reasons arise in the third trimester, such as a grave threat to the health of the pregnant woman or the fetus. Advances in medical science make it possible to discover these conditions earlier. Should the state restrict or evaluate decisions in these circumstances?
Good public policy in this area, therefore, does not require new laws imposing more restrictions and regulation; it requires the removal of existing arbitrary restrictions that make access to abortion unnecessarily difficult, costly, and time-consuming.
Good public policy must also be proactive to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. One might assume widespread support for such an initiative, especially among those who oppose abortion. This is not the case.
Many abortion opponents also oppose sex education and birth control, including emergency birth control, which are proven strategies for reducing unwanted pregnancies. They regard sex education as encouragement for sexual activity outside marriage, and contraception such as the birth-control pill and morning-after pill as abortion-inducing agents.
These views cannot form the basis of public policy, because they do not serve the best interests of vulnerable and young Canadians who need protection against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Any professional offering health-related services to the public must perform that function according to public, not private, principles. Rules require application to particular individuals and circumstances. Study after study has confirmed that decision-makers in this context tend to impose their own personal moral beliefs.
It would be unfortunate if the real need for reform was obscured by proposals that do not take into account the high cost to women’s health and wellbeing under the current arrangements.
If Mr. Bruinooge and his ilk were truly interested in reducing the rate of abortion, they would work to make accurate sex education, access to contraceptives and access to free abortion readily available as these measures have just that effect. Bruinooge doesn’t fool me. It breaks my heart that he will fool many.