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Joining the 21st Century: Public policy and abortion

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

The government of P.E.I. is to be congratulated for belatedly joining the twenty-first century, and the rest of Canada's provinces, by allowing women to have abortions and birth control counselling as part of the provincial medicare system. It's been a long time coming.

The soon to be opened Women's Wellness Center at the Prince County Hospital provides long overdue medical services. Both PEI Health and the senior administrators at the PCH are to be congratulated for their professionalism regarding this contentious public policy issue.

We are all God's creatures, we are told, and born in Her image - men, women, blacks, whites, Anglophones, Francophones, as well as straights and gays. If God didn't want people to have abortions or access to birth control She wouldn't have created or allowed these reproductive services in the first place.

God clearly believes that people are sentient beings and can do their own thinking, and make their own decisions, regarding such personal matters. What is utterly obnoxious and unacceptable is that some people of certain religious faiths believe that they have the right to dictate and impose personal life-style choices on others. This is as self-righteous and arrogant, as it is intrusive.

Back off! Stop telling people how to live their lives. If religion has any relevance it teaches us about tolerance and compassion.

Those who oppose abortion are the same one's who have burned people at the stake for differing religious views, have censored books that people are allowed to read, supported the reactionary feudal aristocracy and landed oligarchy, opposed women's right to vote, commit pedophilia, and oppose birth control. Yet these same hypocrites dare to set ethical standards and tell us how we are to live our lives? They insult our intelligence.

Public policy should be based on reason, not faith (to invoke St. Augustine's distinction), or allegedly lost souls .

But some people don't know when to stop beating a dead horse. The Supreme Court of Canada in Morgentaler (1993) ruled that the criminalization of abortion under the Criminal Code of Canada violated a women's constitutional Charter rights. Chief Justice Lamer, a strong practicing Catholic put aside his own religious views and ruled with the majority. It should be noted that Parliament in its wisdom, regardless of government, has refused to legislate in this matter. And is unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, it could be argued that the failure of any province to provide abortions violates the equal access provisions of the Canada Health Care Act (1985) and the Health Care Accessibility Act (1986).

The jurisprudence in British common law jurisdictions (ie, Canada , UK., US, et al) is quite clear and has been so for many decades, namely that a fetus to qualify as a person must meet three legal criteria, including the ability to survive independently of the mother. That is because life is social, as well as biological. Nor has the Criminal Code ever recognized a fetus as a person. Are self-righteous opponents of abortion such Nicole Dupuis and Keven J. Arsenault, who want to force their religion on others, proposing to force a women to carry a fetus to term, even against her wishes, and even if it is unwanted? This is biological serfdom in the name of religion; it is positively Orwellian.

If any case could be made against the province of P.E.I. that it was acting illegally or was ultra vires in any way, or violated existing statute, no doubt the Catholic Church or its various outspoken representatives, would have initiated legal action against the province a long time ago. One can only wonder what legal advice people like Kevin J. Arsenault received in an opinion letter prepared by competent counsel. And repeatedly saying that the province is acting "illegally" doesn't make it so. Such claims are tedious and boring.

But I have faith that God acted wisely and provided divine guidance to the government of P.E.I. in allowing abortions as a matter of social policy.

Richard Deaton,

Stanley Bridge

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