Read his lips: there will be no abortion law

By 
  • September 30, 2008
Pro-lifers across the country pull their hair out in chunks every time they hear the dire warnings that Prime Minister Stephen Harper harbours a secret agenda to recriminalize abortion. They know full well he has been the biggest disappointment on that front since the Supreme Court overturned Canada's abortion law in 1988.

Harper and his braintrust in the upper echelons of the Conservative Party run like panicked turkeys every time one of their political opponents mention the A-word. You want to scare a Conservative backroom honcho? Sneak up behind him and shout "abortion." He'll jump right out of his Hugo Boss suit.

That was apparent last month, just before the launch of this federal election campaign, when the government abandoned hapless MP Ken Epp, who had the temerity to introduce a modest private members' bill that sought to make it a crime to kill a unborn child as a result of the death of the pregnant mother. We're talking about wanted children here.

To be very, very clear, Epp's Bill C-484 included wording that made it explicit that this law would have no impact on the legal status of abortion. Of course, this didn't stop Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and his Greek chorus (the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada) from arguing just the opposite. In that notorious public exchange, the pro-choice Dion challenged Harper to say where he stood on abortion. As he has many times before, Harper demurred.

Instead, it was left to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to pull his government's support for Epp's bill, saying the Conservatives wouldn't "reopen the debate on abortion." Pro-lifers across Canada wailed among ourselves; our anguish was ignored by mainstream media, of course.

 All that is yesterday's spilled milk, since Epp's bill died with the dissolution of Parliament. And you would think the Conservative action was pretty definitive, putting an end to the question once and for all. You would be wrong.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, never one to pass up a juicy calumny, resurrected the "secret agenda" charge again Monday, Sept. 29."They are saying the same thing as the Republicans in the United States," Duceppe told reporters. "They said they intend to reopen the debate. Everything indicates that a majority Harper government is reopening the door, wide open to recriminalizing abortion."

If only that were true. Unfortunately, "they" said no such thing. There is nary a mention of abortion in the Conservative platform, unlike the U.S. Republican platform which is unequivocally pro-life. John McCain and Sarah Palin are proudly pro-life. The Canadian Conservatives keep their pro-life MPs under lock and key.

If only the Harperites were even a little ambiguous about abortion, even held out a few tiny crumbs for pro-lifers to gnaw on. Alas, the Master and Commander himself denied pro-lifers even this tiny glimmer of hope. 

 "I don't intend to open the abortion issue," he told reporters Monday. "I haven't in the past; I'm not going to in the future."

Secret agenda? We can only dream.

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