What is Rod Bruinooge’s Private Members Bill Really About?

“Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.” Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

I find that quote used often on pro-life websites to equate abortion with violence. However, it doesn’t ring true for most of these sites, that all too often support war and even the death penalty. Clear evidence of a nation using violence to get what it wants.

In fact, if I were to march in one of their “pro-life” demonstrations, carrying a sign with a picture of an Afghan child who was the victim of war, I would probably be called a “Taliban dupe”. Or if my sign had the photo of a Palestinian child, who was an innocent victim of war, I would probably be accused of anti-Semitism and not loving Israel enough.

I might even be whacked with one of their signs suggesting that abortion is the “new Holocaust”, complete with the most horrendous images.

Because there are several quotes also attributed to Mother Teresa, that I never see on a “pro-life” site, including this one:
“Please choose the way of peace. In the short term there may be winners and losers in this war that we all dread. But that never can, nor never will justify the suffering, pain and loss of life your weapons will cause.”

For Mother Teresa, her anti-abortion beliefs were part of her overall message of love and peace, and while I would not find her arguments against abortion valid; I would respect her opinion.

However, this post is not about war, Mother Teresa, or even moral arguments. It’s about Rod Bruinooge, the chair of the House pro-life caucus, and his new private members bill aimed at making it a crime to threaten or intimidate a woman into having an abortion.

He claims that this was inspired by the brutal murder of Roxanne Fernando, the Winnipeg woman whose life was taken because she refused to terminate her pregnancy.

However, at issue here is not that she refused to have an abortion, but the fact that she was brutally murdered. The motive is secondary. Had she been killed because she refused to give her boyfriend a loan, would we really need to draft a new law making it illegal to “coerce” or “intimidate” someone into giving you money?

We already have such a law. It’s called extortion. And we already have laws making it illegal to coerce or intimate someone into doing anything. A threat of violence, is a threat of violence, regardless of what motivates it.

So what is this really about?

It’s simple. It’s about the need to equate abortion with violence. To plant that seed in our minds. ‘Holocaust’, ‘murder’, ‘brutality’ and even ‘eugenics’, all become part of their argument. And of course, it’s made worse because the suggestion is that it’s violence against children. Child victims of war are simply “collateral damage”, but abortion is presented as a mother’s war against her own child. This is why most pro-lifers will always go right to late term abortions, and never use the term ‘fetus’.

I do question though, that if this is not about ‘abortion’ as Bruinooge suggests, but a woman’s choice being taken away; then should it not also include intimidation to not terminate a pregnancy? What about the coercion of a parent who threatens to throw their daughter out if she has an abortion, using economic intimidation? Or a boyfriend or husband using emotional blackmail as intimidation, which is often not about the pregnancy at all, but control?

Has Rod Bruinooge or anyone else considered that?

I suppose it doesn’t matter, because while the bill will probably be defeated, their cause has already scored a victory. Once again, they have brought “violence” into the abortion debate.

And of course, in the process Stephen Harper also scores a victory.

He took a lot of heat when Hilary Clinton was clear that any initiative to improve the maternal health of women in developing countries, must include access to safe abortion.

He can now posture that he disapproves of this bill, earning himself headlines like Harper won’t support Tory MP’s abortion bill, thereby appearing to agree with Clinton. And if this angers the fundamentalist groups, will he really lose their vote?

The fact that the Conservative Party is the only one willing to present bills of this nature at all, validates their loyalty, and provides meat for their fundraising letters.

If Stephen Harper really disapproved of his MP’s motion, it would never have been presented at all. But he needs that bill to continue the facade of a moderate centrist, and the pro-life caucus needs that bill to plant the seed of violence to define abortion, and the Religious Right needs that bill to generate funds that fuel their “holy” mission.

Just another day in paradise.

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