January 28 was an anniversary we at the office wished we didn’t have to mark. It was on that day in 1988 that the Supreme Court struck down the existing abortion law, leaving us where we are today: with no protection for unborn children at any stage of pregnancy.
For those who are unaware of the legal history of abortion in Canada, it is well summed-up in this article by Paul Ranalli, MD, which appeared in the National Right to Life News:
…Canada’s initial loosening of the previously strong protection for the unborn was smuggled by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau into a 1969 “omnibus” bill, a sprawling piece of legislation. The intent was to quietly open up a range of exceptions to the legal sanctions against abortion, while still keeping it within the federal criminal code.
A much more modest law than the Roe v. Wade result, it was still considered controversial enough that it was passed as quietly as possible. And it worked. Only pro-life activists realized the serious nature of the threat to the unborn and raised a protest, but the majority of the press and public, while not yet in the universal pro-choice lockstep that we see today, were less perturbed by the change in the law.
The second and final judicial blow to protection for the unborn in Canada came in 1988, when a challenge to the existing abortion law by renegade abortionist Henry Morgentaler led the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down the law on the narrow grounds that access to hospitals with abortion committees and services were unevenly available across the country, and that this regional difference constituted a threat to the security of women, as defined by the recently drafted Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982).
And so, on January 28 of this year, members of the community braved the bitter cold to join Guelph & Area Right to Life at our Supreme Court Prayer Vigil in front of Guelph General Hospital that evening. Jakki Jeffs, president of Guelph & Area Right to Life, describes the scene:
“We had 10 turn out on a very, very cold winter evening who walked with candles lighting up a little path in front of Guelph General Hospital. We had frozen feet, fingers, noses and toes but we walked, talked and prayed for an end to abortion in our city and in Canada. We know that our little lights were joined by thousands of others across the country and while we could not see each other, this light for life will bring a new day to Canada very soon.
We mourned the almost 6,000 children who perished by abortion at Guelph General Hospital in past years and prayed for change of heart in Guelph. Abortions can be performed in physician’s offices up to 13 weeks and we have no way of knowing if this is happening in Guelph. So we pray that our Guelph medical establishments, personnel and counseling will be directed to supporting life not abortion.”