June 22, 2015

Some advice for pro-lifers from a pro-choicer

Richard KlagsbrunRebel Blogger

Despite the saying erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, doing the same thing, over and over, and each time expecting a different result is not insanity. To some extent it's a part of human nature, because there's always the hope that some small variation in timing, or the cumulative effect of repetition may create a different outcome.

But indeed, for the most part, if you repeat the same action under the same circumstances, the result will be the same.

Though not described in those terms, that premise forms the basis of an excellent article by my friend Rick McGinnis in the most recent issue of The Interim discussing the failure of the anti-abortion movement to make real progress.

Precedents from Supreme Court decisions, a lack of will among any major political party, and overwhelming public opinion make it almost certain that criminal sanctions for abortion will never be restored in Canada. However the stubborn refusal to accept something so obvious is only one of the shortcomings on the anti-abortion side.

The other problem is that many of the leaders of the anti-abortion movement are so histrionic, and are glaringly driven by religious motivation in a secular society, making the entire cause look unreasonable and unappealing.

These "pro-life" people, who for the most part also profess to be "pro-freedom," exhibit the dictatorial trait of wanting to impose their beliefs on others through laws and punishments. When that belief system extends to telling women what they can do with their own bodies, and forcing them to carry a fetus to term against their will, it becomes as much an issue of individual liberty as it does a women's rights issue.

Exploring alternate ideas and strategies is something the anti-abortion movement had better do soon if it doesn't want to be consigned to total irrelevance.

If you want to win the war of ideas, you have to persuade people, not dictate to them or insult them. As Rick described as a crucial point, the anti-abortion side needs to decide if their "priority is winning political victories or saving babies’ lives."

Shouting outside abortion clinics and calling women who want abortions and physicians who perform abortions "murderers," is only likely to persuade people that the anti-abortion movement is made up largely of maniacs.

If you want to make the argument that abortion is a bad moral choice, then videos like this, of a fetus clapping its hands in the womb, is more likely to get a woman to reconsider an abortion than telling her that she will burn in Hell or trying to enact laws to have her thrown in jail.

Ultimately, abortion is a moral choice and the anti-abortion side had better learn to recognize that those choices are for each of us to make for ourselves. You don't have to do a lot of work to persuade someone that adultery is morally wrong. But if you wanted to advocate for a restoration of Puritanical laws requiring adulterers to be branded and imprisoned, people will think you're nuts.

One of Rick's suggestions is making adoption more accessible for both pregnant women and prospective adopters. That's the type of legislative victory and policy changes the anti-abortion side could very conceivably achieve.

Legal abortion isn't going away in Canada for the foreseeable future, nor should it.  It's a woman's right to decide what happens inside her own body. But giving people access alternatives and doing it in a sane, compassionate manner is something that no reasonable person could oppose. The place to do that is in the sphere of ideas and not outside abortion clinics while holding up pictures of bloody fetuses.  If the anti-abortion side learns to focus more on persuasion than hectoring, they stand a chance of making some real progress.


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commented 2015-06-28 11:17:54 -0400
I’m sorry, but this really pissed me off. I forgot to mention that Roe v. Wade was also a split decision of the court, with strong dissenting opinions written by Justices White and Rehnquist. Even so, the majority decided to protect individual state legislatures’ rights to pass laws to “protect fetal viability”, a term which it did not bother to define.
The U.S. Supreme Court even upheld state and federal funding bans for abortion on demand, allowing only for poor women to obtain abortions in cases of incest, rape or threat to the life of the mother (Harris v. McRae, 1980).
Reagan, Ronald. Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, (Nelson 1984): “If you don’t know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.” I.e. in the absence of consensus about when meaningful life begins, it is best to avoid the risk of doing harm.
“[B]y foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish.” – Justice Scalia’s dissent in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).
commented 2015-06-28 10:58:13 -0400
Those last two link descriptions should be “pro-choice” not “pro-life”… as you’ll see if you click and watch.
commented 2015-06-28 10:53:45 -0400
To Paul Wood and Anne Smyth – thanks for the direction to the videos of the annual Walk for Life marches. They were extremely illuminating.
commented 2015-06-28 10:51:53 -0400
Also, it’s not definitive whether or not Einstein originated the quote, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing…” It’s therefore a mistake to label it as being “erroneously attributed”, when in fact there is no solid evidence one way or the other. I challenge you to prove Einstein didn’t say it. For all either of us know, it’s an expression that’s thousands of years old, but regardless of its age and ultimate origin, Einstein might still have said it at some point. Ultimately, who cares? The phrase is a useful philosophical tautology. However you, Richard, initially denied its truth, and then, after erroneously applying it to your misconceived image of the pro-life movement, you about-faced and levelled your own argument, confirming its veracity by implying that pro-lifers do the same thing over and over expecting a different result, and must therefore be “nuts”.
commented 2015-06-28 10:22:40 -0400
Or how to lose a provincial election for school board trustee.
commented 2015-06-28 10:21:04 -0400
Richard Klagsbrun, I thought your name sounded familiar, and now I know why. You ran for Trustee of the Toronto Public School Board back in 2014 on, of all platforms, de-politicizing the education system.
LMFAO, coming from a man who was influential in marketing Al Gore’s propaganda-filled, fear-mongering film about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, to provincial legislators in an effort to make Gore’s bullshit movie a mandatory part of public education. Does this previous career of yours not count as politicization of education? Curious. Perhaps this little inconsistency has something to do with why you lost. Just sayin’.
Next time you have an opinion to share, try to make sure it’s properly researched and worth the time it takes to read. Or maybe just stick to subjects you know, like how to sell bullshit to the government.
commented 2015-06-28 09:49:10 -0400
Richard Klagsbrun (RK), I am absolutely astonished by the degree of your naivety, at best, or at worst, what appears to be your deliberate disingenuousness and prejudicial obtusity on the issue of abortion. You lump everyone into one or the other category (pro-life vs pro-choice) as if they are black and white slots based on your own moral determination of wrong vs. right. I’m sorry, but I can’t take you seriously, since you evidently have no knowledge of the laws concerning abortion in the U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, or the Canadian SCC’s decision in R v. Morgentaler. I suggest you read up before judging the issue or making pronouncements on the state of the law as it is or as it should be.

You imply that there are no laws in the U.S. governing abortion, as if the court in Roe v. Wade created/recognized an existing, absolute women’s right when it comes to abortion. This is a very common misconception, but is NOT what actually happened. The court reinterpreted the right to privacy in the due process clause of the 14th amendment as extending to a woman’s decision to get an abortion. BUT, the court ruled, “this right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women’s health. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.” – Wikipedia.

Protecting life is therefore a strong consideration that will tend to weigh against what dogmatically-driven pro-choicers tend to mischaracterize as being an absolute woman’s “right” to obtain a state-funded abortion on demand. The U.S., like most developed nations with the notable exception of Canada, regulate access to both private and state-funded abortion to some degree. Canada, however, has yet to pass any national legislation or regulations to replace the now-repealed Criminal Code provisions declared unconstitutional by the SCC in R v. Morgentaler. The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 in Morgentaler that a criminal law requiring women to obtain certification from the Therapeutic Abortion Committee before legally obtaining an abortion in Canada violated section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and could not be saved under section 1. There were three different opinions given by the majority of the court, and none achieved more than two signatures. As such, NO Morgentaler precedent is binding.
You ought to do a little quick research before making erroneous statements alluding to non-existent Supreme Court precedents that you assume to be proof of a woman’s absolute and inalienable right to abortion (not choice). You imply that anyone who disagrees with you is therefore in denial of reality, when it is you who are clearly ignorant of the legal status of abortion in Canada and the U.S. For clarification, Canada currently has NO laws on abortion whatsoever. NONE.

People like you and the Liberal Party’s “Shiny Pony”, Little Prince Trudeau, are constantly obfuscating the SCC’s decision in Morgentaler and reading much more into it than the justices actually wrote. Your assertion that “overwhelming public opinion” favours there being NO law on abortion is also just plain wrong, and shows that you know nothing about the debate. You clearly haven’t even bothered to look at any of the recent abortion opinion polls conducted in Canada and the U.S. I am actually offended by your characterization of pro-lifers has persisting to bang their heads against the wall, consumed by their “stubborn refusal to accept something so obvious” as the idea that abortion is, according to you, untouchable and not even open for debate. I can only conclude that you are an imbecile.

It is undeniable that abortion is a HUGE public health concern of national significance for all Canadian women of childbearing age, and especially for teenage girls who account for the largest number of abortions every year. The balancing test set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (so often cited by pro-choice activists) should serve as wake-up call that Canada needs at least SOME form of law or regulation over abortion. Aside from extreme circumstances such as performing abortions on underage girls, performing abortions in violation of medical and public health/safety/treatment standards, or performing “late-term” (third trimester) abortions (otherwise known as medically-induced stillborn births involving injection of potassium chloride or some such lethal poison into the fetus to stop its heart while still in utero), criminalization isn’t what most pro-lifers want.

Even then, we (I) don’t want to criminalize women who seek out or obtain abortions. But what’s wrong with laws that penalize doctors/medical staff/facilities that perform abortions in situations like those described above, which are in pith and substance directed at protecting the health and well-being of women? As it is, doctors who perform abortions are subject only to whatever “guidelines” may have been developed by the body that regulates the conduct of physicians in their particular province. Not all provinces have established “guidelines” for physicians’ conduct pertaining to abortion, and not all such guidelines are created equal.

Think about this: should a 14-year-old girl have an absolute right to obtain a provincially-funded abortion at any term, without the knowledge and/or consent of a parent or guardian? How about a 15-year-old? If the age of consent for sexual activity in Canada is 16, which it is, why on earth would we allow underage girls to have absolutely unfettered, anonymous access to abortions? I know it happens, but underage sex is a crime, as an underaged person is legally incapable of giving consent. If someone is incapable of giving consent to engage in sexual activity, they sure as hell shouldn’t be able to legally consent to undergoing a serious, morally-controversial, invasive medical procedure like abortion without at least informing a parent or legal guardian.

Underaged kids in any other situation require parental/guardian consent before receiving medical treatment, so why do we make allowances for abortion? Just look at Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act and Personal Health Information Protection Act, for example. They both prescribe a minimum age of 16 years for capacity to give consent to receive health treatment and for collection of personal health information. At the very least, our laws, both provincial and federal, should be consistent when it comes to aspects of health, privacy of information, and consent to receiving medical treatment and undergoing medical procedures. A good start would be the introduction of a basic age threshold for abortion, below which a parent/guardian or the Public Trustee must consent on behalf of the underage girl. Further, and in general, all women who seek abortions should be required to have all their options, pros and cons, and health risks and implications (whether physical, psychological or emotional, immediate AND/OR potentially arising many years in the future) clearly explained in a separate appointment, at least a week prior to the actual abortion. Far too often, pre-abortion counselling is treated as no more than a tedious but necessary procedural requirement, and is not given the appropriate degree of seriousness or afforded the time and attention that such an important decision requires.

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s in Ontario, after OHIP was introduced and picture ID, hologrammed health cards were issued, a friend of mine got a provincially-funded abortion at Toronto’s Morgentaler Clinic, just off Eglinton Ave. East, when she was just 15. Not once did she encounter any pro-life protesters, abusive or otherwise. The required pre-abortion “counselling” was for all intents and purposes ignored, and was simply one more item to be ticked off some pre-approved, standardized, government abortion checklist. There was no time to consider whether she wanted to look at the ultra sound, be informed of the baby’s sex, or find out if she was carrying twins. Once the decision was made and the procedure over, the opportunity to get these answers was gone. She asked and was told that information had been destroyed.

17 years later, my friend developed severe depression that after months of counselling she was able to relate to the guilt and regret she felt over refusing to find out even whether her baby was a girl or a boy, which she had been suppressing for her entire adult life. She keeps wishing she had looked at the ultra sound. That way she could have taken away some knowledge of her baby and might have been able to properly mourn the life she chose to sacrifice to accommodate her own, naive, teenage convenience. Even though she had an abortion at 15, as a result of making what she readily acknowledges to be a poor and very immature decision to have sex with her boyfriend without using contraceptive protection, she now considers herself to be pro-choicer who chooses life.

And this leads me to what I find truly interesting about your piece, RK. Many pro-lifers, like my friend, if you bothered to talk to them instead of painting them all with the same misinformed brush, actually self-describe as being pro-choice. They just happen to personally choose life, for whatever reason that’s personal to them. Most aren’t even religiously-motivated, they are simply rational, self-interested individuals (often atheists) who hold logically-defensible views against unregulated, unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand. Very few pro-lifers use the “histrionics” you describe above. Most of us are not religious fanatics (in fact I was raised in a strict, atheist household), we don’t protest outside abortion clinics or think abortion doctors and women who get abortions are all “murderers”, and we generally don’t send death threats to abortion doctors or spend our time hanging around abortion clinics waving placards featuring images of bloody fetuses and screaming bloody murder. Nearly 50% of North Americans call themselves pro-life, and most are just normal, everyday men and women, spanning across all ages, cultures, colours and creeds.

On the other hand, I’ve yet to attend or see footage of a Walk for Life march or any pro-life demonstration or exhibit that hasn’t been usurped or downright silenced by a much louder pro-choice counter-protest under the guise of some sort of victimhood. The Walk for Life marches held in numerous North American cities every year are practically silent by comparison with the R-rated chants and extreme antics of the pro-choice crowd. Take a look at this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZufQ8RUp9r8 – screaming about abortion on demand.
This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZeNiOHPQSg – interviewing the pro-life demonstrators describing the pro-life protestors antics, destroying their signs, blocking their peaceful march, etc.
How about this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiIKwOptYPc (note the pro-choicers’ chanting: “racists, sexists, anti-gay, right-wing bigots go away”)
Or this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDUKsTf6DJo – at the legislature in Winnipeg, an interrupted demonstration by pro-life activists calling for a halt to taxpayer-funded abortion.
Or have you seen this one?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJPuzKfmt-8 – from Columbus, Ohio, in 2014, featuring a pro-life radical actually assaulting a pro-life demonstrator.

Do you still honestly believe that pro-lifers are more prone to histrionics?
commented 2015-06-27 00:39:31 -0400
The media in Canada only support the pro-abortion side and don’t cover the pro-life side of the issue so that the perception on the part of the public and politicians is that the country is solidly in support of baby butchering, which it is not. The revenue generated by the baby butchery industry is huge so that must have some effect as well.
commented 2015-06-23 08:06:51 -0400
“Have you seen the hundreds of thousands of pro lifers at the Walk for Life in Ottawa?”
No, I haven’t. I’ve seen crowds of between 10,000 and 30,000, depending on the source. Lesson for “pro-lifers”: don’t lie.
“Is it okay to throw pro life people in jail like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons?”
Yes, because they break the law, serially, and announce that they have no intention of complying with it.
" Pro choice go crazy at even the suggestion pregnant women should see an ultra sound of their baby before deciding on an abortion."
No, pro-choicers generally object that a woman should be FORCED to see an ultrasound.
commented 2015-06-23 02:45:10 -0400
The “Guilt Trip” scenario is getting pretty much worn out , whether you are Saving the Planet , Saving the Bees or Saving the Unborn. Piss off.
commented 2015-06-23 02:19:04 -0400
I understand that encouraging aborting unwanted pregnancies is used as a convenient tool by the left. I also think there should be strict legislation regarding late term abortions. I know that doesn’t sit well with many, but I will never be able to accept for any woman in any country or situation, that she does not have first say over her own body.
commented 2015-06-23 01:58:52 -0400
Yes, it’s Richard Klagsbrun again, more concerned with pro-lifers not being “mean” than whether a pre-born child is going to be dismembered or chemically burned to death (“mean” doesn’t even come close to describing that!) Sorry if I do sound “mean”, but there are so many childishly bad arguments in this article that I would laugh about them if the conclusions weren’t so heinous. Again Richard lauds this ambiguous virtue of “choice” as if we’re all supposed to act like this is on the same level as deciding on getting a tooth extraction or just a filling.

Supposedly “It’s a woman’s right to decide what happens inside her own body.” because it’s apparently a “right” to impose a “choice” favoring a mother’s convenience at the expense of the very LIFE of a child, but then if you say you want to protect and impose the right of LIFE of that living human being over of the mere convenience of the mother, the hissing and claws will come out from those on the other side of the issue. They show that they actually have no coherent concept of rights, or responsibilities for that matter. Yes, they’ll try to jump to the “what about rape?” question, but lets answer the question for normal pregnancies first and that will go a long way to informing you on the other questions. I mean, If I were unknowingly doing something to harm or endanger the life of one of my kids, you bet I’d appreciate you getting up in my face about it – tone be damned!

Point is, the pro-life side isn’t going to be able to persuade the public ANYWAY if we continue to allow the other side to control the language, the definitions, and decide when it’s okay to be “harsh” or “mean”. After all, Justin Trudeau seems to get a pass when he’s being firm, harsh, and downright zealously draconian when he addresses the issue.
commented 2015-06-22 21:59:19 -0400
I guess that I really don’t fit in to this narrative. I am a Conservative—- but- Feel free to abort whatever makes it easier for you.
commented 2015-06-22 18:31:49 -0400
It’s not THEIR body. It is the body of a human being. Getting emotional about murder is pretty natural. That’s like saying about as persons’ 2 year old, “well, he came from my body, so how dare you criticize my decision towards infanticide”. One of the most important goals of the law is to protect those who cannot protect or speak for themselves. A baby is still a person, and that is not changed by the fact that they live in someone’s flesh.
commented 2015-06-22 18:10:47 -0400
The failure of the anti abortion issue? Have you seen the hundreds of thousands of pro lifers at the Walk for Life in Ottawa, yet peaceful and orderly? The numbers are increasing in leaps and bounds and by young people! The whole article is misguided and disingenuous in my opinion. The abortionists are (in U.S.) being prosecuted for the filthy unhygienic conditions under which women undergoing abortions have died because abortion centres are unregulated. Ignoring the proof that the fetus’ heart is beating at 18-25 days, brain waves recorded at 40 days, has fingerprints and can kick, sucks its thumb, all body systems are working, “Choice” still insist it’s not a person and killing it is not murder! Only the mother’s quality of life should be considered and not the baby’s (fetus)? It’s one thing for the mother to decide what to do with her own body but it’s not her body that’s at issue, it’s the body of the life within her body. Also, there are atheists in the pro life movement because the fetus is a person from the get-go as a microbiologist commented only the other day. Pro Lifers are dictatorial? Is it okay to throw pro life people in jail like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons but not those who end the life of innocent victims in view of the fact that there’s free help, financially, materially and counselling and/or the option of adoption? No. The real problem is, pro lifers are prohibited from debate, speaking freely or helping any who wish to be informed whether on university campuses or high schools. Speakers are also not allowed to appear, give lectures, only pro choice can spew anything they want, plus the fact that pro choice go crazy at even the suggestion pregnant women should see an ultra sound of their baby before deciding on an abortion because they don’t want women to make an informed “choice”. Secularists exhibit the definition of ‘dictatorial’ in reality. There are all sorts of videos on the brutality of abortion, like “The Silent Scream” but people are too ready to believe the big lie and not able to stand the truth in my view. In spite of all the opposition, I believe people are beginning to wake up, open their hearts and see through the deceit. After all, “choice” people have been at it for over 30 years and only now since DNA have pro lifers been able to show proof positive that they’ve been right all these years!
commented 2015-06-22 18:10:37 -0400
Mr. Klagsbrun, those were some of the weakest arguments I’ve heard in quite a while. As the previous posters noted, they can as easily be applied to the pro-choice side, so it’s a wash. The fact is most people are ambivalent on the subject. We “get” both sides, thereby creating a dilemma we will never truly solve.
commented 2015-06-22 15:20:35 -0400
Amazing how pro-abortion people will do anything to justify abortion. They talk choice, as if ANY choice is fine: murder, rape, robbery. They squeam at any mention of what this CHOICE is. We all know why, because then no one would agree that murder is wrong, it would be called what it is, it would justify murder and rape. This is a game that has been going on for decades. And if you want to see unruly people at rallies, check out the thousands of videos of the San Francisco Walk for life.. the irreverent filth and throwing of vile objects by pro abortion people. It will all end when the truth comes out. .. when enough women have died from therapeutic abortions, and that is not far off. State the CHOICE?
commented 2015-06-22 14:28:33 -0400
Richard Klagsbrun — are you willing to say similar things to the “pro-choice” movement that denigrates and marginalizes people who do consider a fetus a human being, and thus equate abortion to murder? Because if you’re not, this is no better than “I’m telling you what to do, but I’m not going to change, myself.” If you do not say a similar “tone it down” to “pro-choice”, then this is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy.