Bush's Victory Gives Canadians Hope

By Paul Ranalli, M.D.

The smashing electoral victory of President George W. Bush warmed the hearts of pro-life people across Canada, who can now look forward to an improved climate of protection for the unborn south of the border. We can only stand in awe at the political power achieved by the Movement in the United States.

While Canadian pro-lifers face a bevy of obstacles, there is more pro-life support north of the border than may be apparent to Americans who know only that there is no law restraining the practice of abortion in Canada. The media here routinely trot out a decade-old poll result commissioned by pro-abortion groups that found 79% agreed with a statement that abortion should remain a "private matter between a woman and her doctor."

Yet a new poll reported in early November found that 33% of Canadians believe human life should be protected from conception, and a further 24% say protection for the unborn should begin after the third month. It is fair to conclude that a majority (57%) would oppose abortion after the first trimester. This is hardly satisfactory, but it is sharply at odds with how abortion is treated in the law.

To repeat, there is no law against abortion at any stage in pregnancy, right up to the moment of delivery at nine months. In fact, one judicial precedent was established in the province of British Columbia in the late 1980s. Two midwives were found not criminally negligent in the tragic death of a nine-month-gestation baby during birth. The verdict was not because they were innocent, but because the full-term healthy unborn baby was not deemed a person under the definition of the Criminal Code.

Canada's lawless state of abortion began when Liberal Party Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau engineered the legalization (with mild restrictions) of abortion by slipping the law in as a line item into a large omnibus bill in 1969. Trudeau essentially achieved with this sleight-of-hand for Canada what the Roe v. Wade decision rendered in America four years later. Even this weak law was struck down by the Canadian Supreme Court in 1988 as being unduly "restrictive."

[Some U.S. commentators, shocked by the election result. have published stories of Kerry supporters who threaten to flee north to Canada. Indeed, the now-famous red state/blue state map of the U.S. reveals the interesting pattern of Kerry-friendly states hugging the Canadian border across the Northeast and Great Lakes/ Midwest, plus the West Coast. So there is a political affinity between U.S. states and their northern neighbors.]

But Canadian champions of life face two further daunting structural obstacles. First, there is nothing like the Republican Party in Canada, with an official pro-life platform, and real political clout. Of Canada's five political parties, the Conservative Party - - the only hope for pro-lifers - - would be considered to be on the liberal wing of the Republican Party, with all four other parties to the left of them.

After the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision to strike down the already-weak abortion regulation law, it was left to lawmakers to propose legislation to replace it. The Brian Mulroney Conservative government tried once, in 1991, but the bill died one vote short in the Senate.

The abortion industry moved comfortably into the legal and moral vacuum, unimpeded by any possibility of legal threat. After Mulroney retired, the Conservatives were pulverized in the next election, and Canada's long-fragmented pro-life movement has been hampered ever since.

After a long sojourn in the political wilderness, and a series of stops and starts, there is now a newly unified Conservative Party. To this point in time, it has lacked the political courage to take on the issue of abortion, which can reliably unleash a firestorm of coordinated venomous attacks from the Canadian media, social, and political elites. The Canadian press is so nearly monolithically pro-abortion it's like having a thousand New York Timeses.

The second structural problem for pro-lifers in Canada is the method of choosing our Supreme Court judges. They are simply appointed by the Prime Minister, after being duly vetted by the requisite pro-abortion litmus tests in the Justice Department.

If Canadians knew the details of the current practice of abortion, they would be against the status quo. Like their American counterparts, many who identify themselves as "pro-choice" actually believe abortions are somehow not allowed beyond the first trimester (three months), even though there is no law of any kind restraining abortion.

As bleak as the Canadian scene appears for the unborn here, the emphatic re-election of George W. Bush, coupled with pro-life gains in the Senate, House, and several state governorships, has given us renewed hope and inspiration.

The National Right to Life Political Action Committee is owed a large measure of credit for this crucial victory.

Despite the manifest differences between the two countries, many trends that originate south of the border eventually make their way here. The moral courage and resoluteness of President Bush shines as a beacon of light, like the torch in the hand of Lady Liberty herself.

Meanwhile, the unborn - - so many huddled masses - - drift by in search of true freedom.