Pro-lifers lose battle, but war expands

ATTENTION, abortion pro-choicers: If you disliked Stephen Woodworth, you'll hate Mark Warawa.

First, the North Shore angle: Praise for Conservative MP John Weston, who joined the surprisingly large minority supporting Woodworth's House of Commons Motion 312, defeated 203-91, to create an all-party parliamentary committee to discuss when an unborn child becomes a human being.

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No praise at all for Weston's fellow Conservative Andrew Saxton, who joined the other 202, explaining that he was following the party's position on abortion - shut up about it - as ordered by the prime minister.

Stephen Harper never misses an opportunity to betray the so-called social conservative core of old Reform party voters and MPs who put him where he is. (Here's my own hypocrisy: I thoroughly understand his loathsome pragmatic politics, and I'll vote for him next time anyway.)

No one expected Woodworth to succeed. But, freed from party discipline to vote their conscience, an astounding 10 cabinet ministers - who owe their status, extra income and fine offices to Da Boss - supported Woodworth. You wouldn't get a snivelling Liberal or New Democratic Party constituency association petty apparatchik who would have the jam to do as much. (Send names if I'm wrong.)

Among the Ethical 10 were two especially courageous ministers: Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, who by now everyone knows is grandson of the leader of Canada's top dance band of the 1930s, Mart Kenney and His Western Gentlemen (I'd bet on Jason to carry the swing vote, little joke there), and ethically even tougher Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose.

Can't you feel the hissy fits among the real (bad sense) conservatives in the university women's studies departments, certain editors I have known, the ultra-conformist Canadian ruling intelligentsia?

High, high praise for Woodworth himself. He conducted himself respectfully and without wild-eyed ranting, sneers and gleeful taunting such as you are reading here.

Pro-choicers have long tarred opponents as mostly Catholic and fundamentalist bigots. Two magnificent women don't let them get away with this.

The National Post's indispensable Barbara Kay cites facts, figures, Danish and Finnish studies, too much for this space. Her major point: Abortion clinics (like Henry Morgentaler's money-spinners) resist giving Canadian women seeking abortion plain information. In her Oct. 4 column, she writes that she once sent a woman posing as unsure about having an abortion to three facilities, asking about the dangers. She was told to fill out a form and have the abortion the next day.

She insisted on seeing a doctor. "Each time the doctor emphatically assured her there was no downside or risks to a future pregnancy, even after multiple abortions. They lied, and they could lie, because there are no regulations around informed consent." Denmark, Finland and New York State have compulsory induced abortion registries. "That's the route we should be going" in Canada, Kay writes.

Margaret Somerville is the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University. She's long written thoughtfully on abortion. I'd sum up her Globe and Mail commentary as: Woodworth lost the battle. But he advanced the war. Strategically, pro-life moved far beyond anything since the 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision left this nation without any abortion law at all.

"So where do we go from here?," Somerville asks. "The answer came almost immediately when B.C. Conservative MP Mark Warawa filed another motion (408): 'That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.'" Warawa used evidence documented in a Canadian Medical Association Journal study and confirmed by a CBC sting investigation of "recreational ultrasound" businesses.

Warawa moved the debate into a space where abortion-righters can't use the "religious (code: Christian) bigots" shtick. Or duck that some cultures, read especially East Indian, disproportionately abort female babies because they want boys. Somerville cites a study from India that followed 8,000 consecutive abortions: "Three were of unborn boys and 7,997 of unborn girls."

Pro-choicers like Joyce Arthur twist themselves into pretzels to defend that repulsive choice. They'd be big losers in the court of public opinion. Warawa notes a poll indicating 92 per cent of Canadians "believe sex-selective pregnancy termination should be illegal.

. . . As well, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada have vehemently opposed sex-selection pregnancy termination." Not even a big margin of error could melt that poll figure down to "choice" levels.

Somerville drily remarks of our MPs: "My prediction is, they might find they've jumped out of the frying pan of Mr. Woodworth's Motion 312 into the fire of Mr. Warawa's Motion 408."

Bullseye!

. . .

My West Van Agent dg630w can't praise Christy Clark's new chief of staff, Dan Doyle, enough. As a contractor he negotiated - not easy bargaining sometimes - with Doyle when he was deputy minister of highways. Total respect.

lautens@telus.net

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