In a recent New York Times article, Jack Ewing drew attention to what I believe is the biggest challenge faced by religious people today: the ignorance of our secular society.

Prodigal Daughter - Meredith Gillis (Cara Smith/AQ)

Clashes of religious freedoms in a secular world are commonplace. The banning of the niqab in France, the recent anti-Islamic film blamed for protests and violence all across the middle east, and now a German rabbi facing criminal complaints for performing circumcision as demanded by Jewish law.

Closer to home, it`s the rhetoric surrounding bill M-312 in Parliament. People have been up in arms about how “the religious right is trying to criminalize abortion.” The minister for the status of women, Rona Ambrose is getting all kinds of criticism for her support of the bill.

I’m impressed by Ms. Ambrose’s vote and proud of her for taking a politically unpopular position on behalf of women not yet able to vote for their selves.

A few facts to understand where I and many other people of faith are coming from on this: in the Morgentaler decision, the Supreme Court did not declare a constitutional right to abortion or freedom of choice. Although the decision has been interpreted by many as having decriminalized abortion in Canada, it only said the law was too restrictive and sent it back to Parliament to decide. Parliament in turn deferred it to the provinces to legislate as a health care matter.

The reason we continue to protest abortion is that for us the issue was never closed. Striking down one law isn’t good enough if a new one clarifying the will of the people isn’t written.

Bill M-312 was not a bill to criminalize abortion. It was to strike a committee to study at what point the life inside a pregnant woman’s belly becomes a human and therefore protected by the Charter.

Yes, such a committee’s findings could be used to draft new abortion legislation. Like the findings of many other committees, it could also just be filed away somewhere in Ottawa. How can we settle the issue if we can’t discuss the primary objection of half the population?

In the years since Morgentaler, access has opened up in most provinces. People on both sides of the debate have spent hours arguing womens’ rights and how terrible the quality of life must be for unwanted children.

I can understand and appreciate the “every child should be a wanted child” position the pro-choice movement has taken in recent years. My father and his siblings are adopted. His birth mother may not have wanted him, but my grandparents did. I’ve heard of couples waiting up to ten years to adopt a new-born baby.

I’m pro-life, and firmly so. But I don’t want to criminalize abortion across the country.

I want access to be more limited so it can’t be used as a means of sex-selection. This is a concern which was raised in a medical journal last year following a study of the birth rates of boys and girls to immigrant families.

I want access limited so it can’t be used to prevent parents from having an “imperfect” child. People with physical and mental disabilities are a source of inspiration because of the challenges they overcome every day. They are perfect the way they are and society is richer for their being a part of it.

I want access limited so abortion won’t be an option when it`s inconvenient for someone to have a baby.

Life is not meant to be easy. One of the most beautiful things about people is their ability to survive, adapt, and blossom in rough of circumstances. I believe people learn and mature most from difficult times in their lives.

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  • Jana

    I don't know why you keep repeating that you want access limited. Access to abortion (especially in the maritimes) is very limited. PEI does not have access to abortion at all. Nova Scotia only has access to abortion through the QEII (which is a long process), and New Brunswick only has the clinic in Fredericton (which you have to pay out of your pocket – about $700).

    Many women do not have access to these services due to cost or not having a clinic in their area. And I'm also sure most women choose to get an abortion for reasons other than "it's just not the right time". I get enough people shoving their pro-life opinions in my face while walking down Brunswick Street downtown. I don't want to see it in my campus newspaper as well.

  • Unignorant Securlar Person

    Good afternoon. I wanted to begin by reflecting on your entire series by stating that you must have one heck of an inflated ego to call yourself the “Prodigal Daughter”. I’m no expert, but I’m sure they don’t teach that at STU. Humility is suppose to be one of the traits of a good Catholic, isn’t it?

    Next up, I would like to pause and look at your article, a serious look. Since when is it desirable to have an unwanted child? And is being financially desperate ‘inconvenient’ enough to justify an abortion? Perhaps you have yet to have your own child, let’s just hope that you want it when the time comes, or you may regret this when (s)he winds up in prison because you weren’t capable of being a loving parent. Being capable and willing and able to be a loving parent isn’t about ‘Am I A Good Person?’, it’s about ‘Am I Ready To Be a Good Parent?’. If the answer is No, then people need the choice to not force a child into a world where they will not be appreciated to their fullest. A child should be loved and desired by their parents, they shouldn’t be a second-class citizen – which is exactly where they would end up if your views were enforced.

    “Life is not meant to be easy. One of the most beautiful things about people is their ability to survive, adapt, and blossom in rough of circumstances. I believe people learn and mature most from difficult times in their lives.”

    This is definitely true, however misguided. You should take a moment and look at all of the children in the world – our first world – who suffer and are neglected. If their parents had the choice to abort them, those ‘same’ children might have been able to receive the much-needed support to become highly productive members of society. A society that is secular. Every child is entitled to a fair chance, and to get that chance, they must be wanted and loved. You provide options where it is ‘Quantity over Quality’ – I for one prefer Quality.

    I think it’s high time you got off your high horse and looked around your world – we’re not changing for you or any other religious nut who thinks that they’re following some o-holy ‘word of god sent down from ye on high’. Your ‘holy book’ was written by men, so stop complaining when women don’t get fair treatment in church. Join society, we are evolving into a better place with fair and just rules while the church would still have you believe the world was flat if we hadn’t utterly destroyed any room to move in that argument centuries ago.

  • Lee

    If you think abortions are wrong, don't have one. Keep your opinions out of my uterus.

  • Mary-Dan Johnston

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