Thursday, October 12, 2006

Trudging to Complacency

I am privileged to have as a friend Dr. Will Johnston who in addition to operating a busy family practice in Vancouver, is the President of Canadian Physicians for Life (“CPL”). CPL’s goal is to educate the Canadian public on the negative side-effects and consequences to a mother who chooses abortion over childbirth in Canada. By elevating the consciousness of the public to these issues, it is the hope of CPL that fewer women will succumb to the pressures of society and the relationships around them to have an abortion.

Johnston is above all a pragmatist and he concedes that presently there is no democratic mandate in Canada to outlaw abortion. As a social and political conservative, he is also prepared to accept that the current government has no interest in revisiting the abortion issue. His experience as a family physician has been that of witnessing how much happier mothers were with their babies a year after a pregnancy crisis, compared to women who had gone ahead and had an abortion.

In a recent interview, Johnston made the powerful point about how inconsistently the liberal left has been with regard to the human rights issue, under whose banner the pro-choice movement has held sway for decades in Canada. On the one hand the left has no problem seeing it is wrong to discriminate against an entire class of people whether they be Jews or blacks, but they don’t recognize a huge class of people who happen to be very small and inside their mother’s body.

It is indeed regrettable that an environment does not yet exist in Canada where a reasoned debate about the merits of having no law whatsoever to regulate the practice of abortion in this country can take place. This is particularly of concern when the biological and medical community has long since resolved the contention that originally dominated the discussion over abortion– when does human life begin?

Informed pro-abortion advocates no longer dispute the fact that the fetus is human life. The argument in favour of abortion is predicated solely on the right of the mother to choose whether or not to allow her child to be born. The moral and political dispute is now over which human beings, at whatever rate of development or decline, possess rights that we are bound to respect.

Since 1973 over 40 million abortions have been performed in the United States. From 1970 to 2002 there were reported over 2.5 million abortions in Canada. This is a sobering statement of our society’s attitude toward the respect due to the defenceless unborn.

A group of Catholic and Protestant Evangelicals has recently issued a Statement entitled That They May Have Life. In it they make the case for a “culture of life” and to do so in a way that invites public deliberation and engages in questions of public policy. “To those who do not identify with our communities, or with any Christian community, we respectfully suggest that it is in our mutual interest that they try to understand better the reasons and convictions that have recruited so many millions of their fellow citizens to the cause of the culture of life. Greater understanding does not necessarily lead to agreement, but it at least makes possible a more civil engagement of our disagreements.”

The statement further “plead(s) with our fellow citizens who do not accept the authority of God’s commandments or the good news that is the gospel of life to consider the consequences of having created a license to kill. In the present state of our tragically disordered law (referring to the US, in Canada’s case we simply have no law), citizens are given, in the case of abortion, a private “right” to kill those who are too young, too small, too handicapped, too burdensome, or, for whatever reason, not “wanted”. When this right and the lethal logic that supports it is established in law, there is no principled reason why it should not be applied to the “unwanted” at any point along life’s way, as advocates of eugenics, euthanasia, and assisted suicide logically contend.”

These are sobering thoughts, and what does it say about the maturity of our Canadian society that we have no will to engage in a public debate over the consequences of our pursuit of happiness through the granting of rights as sinister as the death of a defenceless unborn child.

In search of a better understanding of why our fecklessness over the issue of abortion is yet another example of the complacency that seems to overwhelm us here in Canada when it comes to matters that seriously affect the state of health of our culture, I was enormously aided by these words of Irving Babbitt in Democracy and Leadership.

“No movement, indeed, illustrates more clearly than the supposed democratic movement the way in which the will of highly organized and resolute minorities may prevail over the will of the inert and unorganized masses. Even though the mass does not consent to ‘trudge’ after the minority, it is at an increasing disadvantage in its attempts to resist it.”

I am convinced that the majority of Canadians does not approve of the unfettered right of a woman to kill her unborn child, yet we continue to behave in a way that seems to lend truth to Goethe’s statement that “there is nothing more odious than a majority, for it consists of a few powerful leaders, a certain number of accommodating scoundrels and subservient weaklings, and a mass of men who trudge after them without in the least knowing their own minds.”

We need to support the efforts of people like Will Johnston to better inform and educate the "mass of men" so that they might know their own minds and stand up and voice their opposition to actions of the organized and resolute minorities.