Canada’s Pro-Life History

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Canada is 150 years old this year. It was on July 1st, 1867 that the first British North America Act was signed creating the Dominion of Canada (it wasn’t until 1982 that Canada became entirely independent from Britain, but Canada’s actual “birthday” is a whole other topic of discussion).

Unfortunately for the pro-life movement, we happen to have a resolutely pro-abortion Prime Minister in office during this important marker in the life of our nation. Prime Minister Trudeau has made it abundantly clear over the years that he holds abortion as a core principle near and dear to his heart. He has forbidden pro-life M.P.’s in the Liberal Party, has demanded all M.P.’s vote in favor of abortion in all legislation that might come before Parliament, and he has referred to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a basis for his pro-abortion ideology. Trudeau would have Canadians believe abortion has always been a “core Canadian value” to be celebrated. How wrong he is.

The truth is, when our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, fought for and signed into law the BNA of 1867 and for the next 102 years, Canada was a pro-life nation. Someone convicted of taking the life of a pre-born baby would have been facing a possible life sentence. It wasn’t until 1969 that abortion to save the life or “health” (a term that was left undefined) was decriminalized in Canada. 19 years later, the Supreme Court of Canada decided in the Morgentaler decision that the law as it was infringed on a woman’s Charter Right to “security of the person.”

In striking down Canada’s abortion law, the Court encouraged Parliament to enact a new law that would offer protection to the unborn child at some point in pregnancy. In 1992, a law banning abortion after 12 weeks’ gestation passed the Canadian Parliament, but died in the Senate on a tie vote. No Parliament has attempted to enact legislation on abortion since. Despite the evaporation of legal protection for the unborn over the past 50 years, it is important to recognize that Canada does have a pro-life heritage.

Macdonald is quoted as saying, “Abortion saps the very lifeblood of a nation.” For 100 years, the most defenseless, the most vulnerable among us, were protected in Canadian law, and we can get there again. Today, the pro-life movement in Canada is strong, some would argue stronger than it has been for many years. Young, energetic pro-lifers are organizing and implementing strategies to promote pro-life ideals in the political arena.

Educational groups like ours are continuing efforts to change public opinion on the abortion issue and create a culture of life in this great nation once again. As we celebrate this July 1st, let’s not forget, and in fact let’s celebrate, our proud pro-life Canadian heritage.

Photo by Chelsey Faucher on Unsplash