The recent Henry Morgentaler controversy in Canada concerning the awarding to him of the Order of Canada came up in conversation last night amongst some friends I was having dinner with. One of the guests, a female lawyer, provided us all with a lengthy and interesting account of her dealings with him while she was at law school.
Abortion is one of those issues that is a real gray area for me because I find there are no absolutes with it - at least not in my mind. For example, at one extreme end of the spectrum there are strident pro-Lifers who believe that the life of the fetus is of most importance over everything else. This means that they don't believe in abortion even if:
- Conception occurred because of a rape.
- The mother's health is at risk.
- There is a known physical or mental problem with the fetus.
At the other end of the spectrum are the hardcore pro-Choicers. One of them, the 70 year-old father of a friend of mine, told me unequivocally last week that he would have no problem with a woman having an abortion under any circumstances and this would include "even having an abortion 5 minutes before the birth of a perfectly healthy baby were to occur". If you think I'm exaggerating his views, you'd be incorrect. I asked him 3 times if this was really how he felt and he assured me it was.
To say I was sickened by his views would be the understatement of my lifetime. But I think his views have more to do with his hatred for Stephen Harper and George Bush than anything else. His views seem to more often be based on "let me do the opposite of what I perceive Harper and/or Bush would do".
The rhetoric really does tend to reach dizzying heights on this issue. For example, before Canada's last federal election, a 40-something woman said to me: "There's no way I'd ever vote for Stephen Harper. If he ever gets elected, I'll lose complete control of my body!" Yeah, right. :-(
Getting back to the dinner discussion, the female lawyer assured me that Morgentaler is not in favour of a woman having an abortion after her first trimester, except with the written permission of her doctor. This seems more than reasonable to me.
Never let it be said that I'm not open minded and willing to listen to and digest new information.
So, while I was previously against Morgentaler getting the Order of Canada, because it seemed like a slap in the face to devout Catholics, I've come to the conclusion that my views are pretty much in line with what I perceive his to be.