'I'm not listening'

  • February 1, 2008

{mosimage}Canada recently “celebrated” — “mourned” would be more appropriate if not, unfortunately, accurate — the 20th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which demolished our laws restricting abortion. Away from the main events of public marches, protests and university symposia, there were several sideshows that revealed how threatened mainstream opinion makers are by the fact that the subject refuses to die.

We must remind ourselves here that Canada has constitutionally enshrined freedom of speech in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This bears reminding because the actions by governments at various levels, bureaucrats and university student leaders suggest that they accept freedom of speech only when that speech happens to agree with their own opinions — at least on the subject of abortion.

To mark the Jan. 28 anniversary of the Morgentaler decision, LifeCanada conducted a nationwide awareness campaign using posters and billboards depicting a pregnant women with a shadowy fetus imposed over her womb. The caption was “9 months. The length of time an abortion is allowed in Canada. Abortion. Have we gone too far? www.abortionincanada.ca.”

There were no gory photos of abortions there, no accusations of “murder,” no calls for violence. The posters merely raised a legitimate question. In Canada, unlike every other Western nation, there is no legal limit to when an abortion can be procured. This is simply a fact. And it is entirely legitimate to question why we have gone further than any other civilized nation. Are Canadians so certain that we have it right?

Apparently, the facts are too much to take for some people. Even asking the question is over the top. In Hamilton, Ont., city bureaucrats took down the posters at bus shelters after complaints by an “offended” city councillor and three others. In St. John’s, Nfld., the municipal public transit service did likewise. In Fredericton, N.B., the posters didn’t even make it up, courtesy of a pre-emptive strike by city council. In Kelowna, B.C., the clever pro-lifers got around municipal obstructions by putting up a billboard outside city limits, overlooking the community.

Meanwhile, at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, the officially pro-choice student government decided it could not bear to have any students suggesting there might be another way of looking at the issue. It took away official status for the Lakehead University Life Support club after it engaged in a poster campaign.

Such measures are both laughable and extremely sad. They recall that TV cliché of the youngster who, hands clasped firmly over the ears and eyes clenched shut, shouts to her mother: “I’m not listening, I’m not listening, la, la, la, la, la.”

Surely a life-and-death issue — which is what abortion is all about — deserves a more mature and serious response from supposedly responsible citizens. In Canada, in 2008, we have government-sanctioned death for the unborn and trampling of basic human rights. This is far from a proud achievement.

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