I never thought I’d see the day when the Canadian media would start talking about Canada’s position on abortion. Or rather, it’s lack thereof.
See, Canada is one of the only countries in the world with no restrictions on abortion. This isn’t because there are very progressive laws in place. It’s explicitly the opposite. There are no laws in place, with the preexisting ones struck down in 1988 following the Supreme Court’s decision in R v Morgentaler. Since then, it’s been a more-or-less untouchable subject. Unless a politician upholds a progressive view (i.e. is in favor of unrestricted abortions), the official alternative is silence, or to confidently state that you would vote in favor of legislation limiting abortion, knowing full well that such legislation would never be brought before Parliament.
And then the Summer Job Grant controversy began, which places an ideological test on grant applications. In the application, your organization must affirm, by marking a box on the electronic form that they respect Canadian charter rights, including “women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights.” Don’t check the box, and you’re guaranteed to not receive funding.
In the two weeks or so since the story broke, it’s been fascinating to see how pundits on the moderate/Right-ish side of the Spectrum1 and the Left have lambasted the law as ideologuing, particularly in officials’ use of language that insinuates that to not affirm abortion or women’s reproductive rights, you are in violation of Canadian law (which, again, you’re not).
Some of the most fascinating articles on this include the following:
- David Haskell: Trudeau is asking religious Canadians to betray their consciences for federal funding
- National Post: Trudeau uses ‘alternative facts’ on abortion to discriminate against people of faith
- John Ivison: Trudeau’s stubbornness over summer jobs application defies common sense
- Rex Murphy: No summer jobs for you! And other decrees from Bishop Trudeau
- John Geddes: Trudeau government stands firm in clash with faith-based groups over summer jobs
- Stephen Maher: Justin Trudeau should read the Charter of Rights
I try to avoid politics in my writing whenever possible; generally speaking, I find it unhelpful. But this is not a post about politics. It is a post about hope—one I’ve harbored since shortly after becoming a believer. Something I shared elsewhere is that, prior to becoming a Christian, I affirmed that there should be a right to have an abortion. I mocked the pro-life view, largely out of ignorance. But as I grew to understand the value and dignity of human life, I could no longer affirm my former views. I turned my back on them because I was convinced it was wrong. It wasn’t because I heard multiple sermons on the subject.2 It was that I was constrained by the Word of God. I was convicted by Scripture’s view of human dignity and value, of our being made in the image and likeness of God.
And so now, I find myself praying for the nation of my birth—the nation that until recently I called home. I don’t know what’s going to happen as this conversation continues, or even if it will continue at all. I don’t pretend that there will be a sudden turn away from the views that have guided Canada for more than a half-century. Instead, my prayer is for those who are watching the story unfold. That they will recognize the problem in Canada for what it is. That they will begin to call for real laws, not simply the absence of them. But more than that, my prayer is that Canada’s collective conscience will be stirred to uphold the rights of all Canadians—especially those without a voice.