By Fr. Don Braukmann/St. Philip, Bemidji & St. Charles, Pennington
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about abortion at a recent town hall gathering in Hamilton, Ontario. He was asked by an audience member where Trudeau and his government stood on the issue of free speech and where he drew the line.
The question arose because of Canada’s Summer Jobs Program which funds placement of students in non-profit and public-sector jobs. The program requires applicants (students!) to publicly agree with the government on the issue of abortion and gender identity/expression among other things.
Pro-life lawmakers are mounting a legal challenge claiming discrimination against Christians specifically and the violation of religious liberty in general.
Trudeau said, “An organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion, the right for women to control their own bodies, is not in line with where we are as a government and quite frankly where we are as a society.”
The right to an abortion, for any reason, is the law of the land in Canada. It has not been a major issue in Canadian elections and the only political party which is staunchly pro-life, the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, has never had a member elected to parliament.
Abortion is considered a basic human right for women in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When I served in Warroad and Baudette (on the Canadian border), priests from Canada said pressure was building within the government to criminalize the action of priests who spoke out publicly against abortion and/or same sex marriage rights.
And so the cancer of abortion which eats away at the very soul of any society which promotes it continues to grow. There is little chance of Canada electing a pro-life prime minister given the fact a pro-life position is simply not tolerated.
In the United States, we just marked the anniversary of legalized abortion on demand, 45 years to be exact. And in this time, political leaders who once saw abortion for what it is somehow contorted their views and their souls to justify the killing. A prime example was Senator Ted Kennedy who, during his time in the United States Senate, went from being a powerful defender of life to a crusader for abortion on demand. For Kennedy, it meant votes; for the children, it meant death.
I have shared with readers before the following reply Senator Kennedy wrote to a constituent in 1971 on his own personal and political stand on abortion:
“While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life.
“Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.
“When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”
It is hard to read those words all these years later as Senator Kennedy, soon after writing his reply, changed his mind, and, as I said earlier, became a leading crusader for abortion rights to the day he died.
What changed? The science did not change. The species of the child in the womb did not change. The teaching of the Catholic Church of which the Senator was a member, did not change. Jesus Christ’s opinion did not change.
Canada has a pro-life history which she has long ago abandoned.
Many of our Catholic political leaders, like Senator Ted Kennedy, once pro-life, have gone the way of Canada.
America, over 56 million children have died since that black day in January of 1973. That is more than every man, woman and child in these states: Oregon, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
We are so much better than this, America. We can treat women with respect, support and compassion while at the same time defending the most basic of all human rights … the right to life.