Grant Rants

Abortion, faith by stealth and politics.

- February 13th, 2012

Life is complex.

It may seem a trifle unfair, but life doesn’t guarantee us happy endings.
 Sometimes we are left with a choice between two equally difficult options, neither one without its share of heartache. Sometimes the only way to know if we made the right choice is to let a decision play out and see what comes. The best we can do, I suppose, is to face those choices honestly.

Yah, yah, I know, look at me being all emo and deep. Must have been something I ate.
 However, it does bring me to something bouncing around the news wires the past week – namely the failure of Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth to reopen the abortion debate in Canada.

There is an element, a small one perhaps, of the governing Conservative Party that wants to establish a Canadian version of the religious right found south of the border. These are the folks who decide most everything through the lens of a 2,000-year-old book, and seek to create a quasi-theocratic state where the law of the land isn’t secular, but Biblical.

While the U.S. has to deal with theocrats attempting to teach creationism in science classes and attacks upon the rights of homosexual citizens,  the Great White North has been able to avoid a lot of that.

(Interestingly, the Liberals are now contending with this as well.  The ailing party is worried pro lifers are going to effectively hijack a Toronto riding by-election.)

After Stephen Harper won his first majority last election, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among some in the chattering classes who assumed Harper would usher in Canada Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin would approve of.

What they failed to understand is that whatever else Harper is, he’s ultimately a pragmatist who knows if he even put one foot down that road, the federal Tories would end up back in the wilderness he only recently led them out of. (Look at what happened to the Ontario PC’s when they tried to run on a platform of funding faith based schools a few years back.) That’s why he won’t reopen the abortion debate. He has everything to lose and nothing to gain.

His less astute peers, however, are unable to handle this kind of calculation.
Which brings us back to Woodworth. He’s got a motion to form a committee to examine the legal definition of a human being, specifically when is a person a person? The definition Canada uses is simple enough — at birth.

But it’s also apparently a few centuries old and Woodworth thinks it’s in need of updating.
 If it changed, Canada’s abortion laws could also change. 
Of course, Woodworth’s motion doesn’t actually mention abortion. Instead of facing the question honestly, he is attempting to sneak abortion onto the floor of the House of Commons, but has all the subtly of Inspector Clouseau in china shop. Themistocles he ain’t.

I’ve never been able to reach a completely comfortable conclusion to the abortion question. It is difficult dispute the late Christopher Hitchens when he said the unborn ought to be considered candidate members of the species. On the other hand, so far as I am concerned the only person who should have any say over a woman’s body is the woman herself. QED.

These are, I admit, contradictory ideas. That being the case, I lean on the firmer of the two — a woman’s right to choose — to decide the matter.

Some might says it’s a lousy trade off. Maybe so. But I’ve yet to hear and argument sufficiently potent to change my mind.

Woodworth does not bother with this sort of reasoning. He tries to cloak his intentions using a poor man’s version of “the end’s justify the means.”
 It’s not a lie exactly, but it sure isn’t the truth.

Being a backbencher, his motion for a special committee has a snowball’s chance in Hades of becoming much of anything. But his method – the attempt to slip an agenda through the Commons by dressing it up as something else — is something worth watching as it does little to help nation grapple with those issues for which there are never comfortable answers.

Categories: News

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1 comment

  1. Yes, we must be careful about the way Stephen Harper managed to push ahead his agenda. He has more than normal tricks up his sleeve:
    http://nickfillmore.blogspot.com/2012/02/is-stephen-harper-displaying-fascist.html

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