Sorry for my unenlightened views on abortion

May 4, 2012 - Ray Pennings

Dear pro-choice leaders:

I followed the recent abortion debate via Twitter. I was convinced by your winsome and respectful reasoning on how anything other than having no abortion law would be retrograde and unCanadian. I was so convinced by the arguments that I was thinking of converting to the pro-choice cause.

The clincher came in an Ottawa Citizen column that declared that socially progressive values are now “nearly a unanimous view” in Canada. It’s time to reform my second-class citizen ways, apologize for my previous unenlightened views, and do my part for the cause.

Changing sides requires that I apologize for my part in the “old, divisive, angry debates about matters of individual faith and morals.” I was a bit slow to realize that “(w)e actually, finally may be living in a just society, as various past prime ministers dreamt we one day would.”

My intentions were not as offensive as they seemed. Do understand, since I was a kid, I was taught that a pregnancy involved another person. In our family, we prayed for the not-yet-born children’s health, both physical and spiritual. Perhaps you have a re-education course available to help people like me. (Discouraging prayer for the unborn may be part of the solution.)

We should pay attention to our schooling system as well. In my own experience, parental perspectives were reinforced by biology courses that did not always adequately distinguish between actual and potential human life. Am I allowed to admit that my untrained human eye can’t always tell the difference, especially in the second and third trimester?

It’s not just biology that’s a problem, either. I grew up thinking human beings had dignity and worth because they were created in the image of God. Only now do I realize this should only be taken as a private belief and that thinking too much about its logical and philosophical implications is problematic. Has a history editing project been considered? Almost all of the philosophers I studied seemed to work from an understanding of human nature that seemed consistent with my childish perspectives. Or might it be better just to eliminate philosophy and history from the curriculum?

I trust my newness to the cause will allow for a few questions of clarification? I was reading the Toronto Star last Friday and wasn’t sure how to deal with the relationship of abortion rights and multiculturalism. I presume Haroon Siddiqui isn’t being totally heretical when he asked, “On what basis do we say women cannot abort female fetuses? Or, are we saying that Canadian women from certain ethnic communities have only a partial right to abortion?”

He was responding to the habit of certain Toronto-area hospitals that withhold gender ultrasound results for women from nationalities where gender selection is practised.

I also came across that article that appeared in the Journal of Medical Ethics in February. The abstract laid out the argument cogently: By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call after-birth abortion (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

I am sure neither racism nor infanticide is part of the just society. I presume there are logical answers to these questions that you will pass along.

If I might be so bold to suggest, however, these issues are not as broadly understood as they might be if our just society is to be fully enjoyed. Have we thought about a continuing education program? Unfortunately, both the French and the Swedes have laws of the sort that were described as unreasonable during the Canadian debate, so that nixes them as co-sponsors. In fact, the only enlightened countries by the standards described in Parliament last week are North Korea, Vietnam and China. Which should we ask to co-sponsor the conference?

When it comes to indoctrination — sorry, edit that; public re-education is what I meant to say — I think there is some experience there to help reform those with backwards views of the sort I had until yesterday.

Maybe we can yet transform them into contributing members of society. Let me know if I can be of any help.

— An apologetic ex pro-lifer


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Originally Published

date: May 4, 2012
publisher: The Calgary Herald