A pro-life sign is displayed Jan. 21, 2022, during the annual March for Life rally in Washington. CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade will have impact here: pro-life voices

  • May 12, 2022

News of a leaked document pointing to the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court constitutes a moral victory of sorts for the pro-life movement in Canada, but few pro-life representatives think there will be any immediate or similar impact here.

The report that the 49-year-old U.S. abortion ruling may be struck down comes as Canada’s pro-life movement prepares for its largest annual events, the National March for Life in Ottawa May 12 and various smaller events in provincial capitals across the nation.

The leaked draft majority opinion from the court is “already rallying the troops,” said Fr. Larry Lynn, pro-life chaplain for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

“The pro-abortion people are saying, ‘this could happen here,’ and ‘be on your guard,’ and those sorts of things,” said Lynn. “I think you can mark this day as a time when a real battle has begun.”

Removing Roe v. Wade as precedent would put U.S. abortion law back in the hands of the states, which Lynn called “a perfect example of subsidiarity at work, a very Catholic principle, a foundation of Catholic social justice.”

While the 1973 ruling removed the abortion issue from the states and made it federal law, the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, as leaked, indicates “Roe v Wade was egregiously wrong in taking that power away from the states,” said Lynn.

As for any political parallel in Canada, Lynn is doubtful.

“I think that the political will in Canada to work against abortion is virtually nil. All the governments since (Prime Minister Brian) Mulroney’s time have not been willing to touch it. They won’t even discuss ‘when does life begin.’ ”

Tabitha Ewert, legal counsel for We Need a Law, agrees there won’t be any tangible effect in the near future in Canada but said the draft opinion is important from a social perspective.

“There won’t be any legal impact, but we’re already seeing the political impact,” she said, pointing to a Bloc Quebecois motion in Parliament seeking unanimous support for women’s right to abortion. The motion failed because it lacked unanimity.

Jeff Gunnarson, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, thinks the draft ruling could be helpful for Canadian pro-lifers.

“American culture will inevitably change for the better post-Roe, and because of the U.S.’ influence on Canada, our own culture will inevitably change too. When life is winning in America, it is only a matter of time before life will win in Canada too,” he said. 

Josie Luetke, youth co-coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, said the biggest task for the pro-life movement in Canada now is to “reignite the abortion debate” and “keep the momentum going,” with the first opportunity the March for Life.

“Abortion has become a kind of sacred cow in Canada that many mistakenly think cannot be challenged,” Luetke said. “If Roe is overturned, the abortion debate is certainly coming to Canada where we’ll be advocating for protection for preborn children.” 

Jack Fonseca, Campaign Life’s director of political operations, said the way the news broke was a cause of concern for pro-lifers, and he’s wary about the possible motives behind the leak, which is already being used by pro-abortion voices to intimidate the U.S. court from the direction it appears headed from and to rally voters for November’s mid-term elections.

John Hof, former head of United for Life B.C., agreed, calling the premature release of the court ruling “nothing more than political interference with the judicial arm of government. The breach of trust implications have undermined the delivery of justice forever.” 

He agrees the motivation behind the leak was the November elections, which “had all the indications of an embarrassing landslide defeat for the Biden Democrats. Something was needed to motivate the people to the polls and nothing motivates voters like the abortion issue.” 

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