Writing something brilliant about Morgentaler’s nomination to the Order of Canada is difficult at this point, not only because the deed is done and trying to talk anybody out of it is futile, but also because the urge to scream injustice at the top of my lungs while setting my hair on fire hasn’t quite subsided. But my posting record has been rather lackluster since the end of the school year and if anything is worth dealing with the consequences of having five unattended children roaming about the house while I write, this must be it.
What I find so unjust about Morgentaler’s nomination is, once again, the absence of intelligent debate — as opposed to rhetoric, slogans and name-calling — surrounding matters of abortion. While pro-life advocates are not blameless in that matter, I believe that the failure to engage in intelligent debate rests more heavily on the shoulders of pro-abortion advocates, as the underhanded manner in which the Morgentaler nomination was managed shows. I am offended by the nomination, but I am more deeply offended that the process was planned to avoid any meaningful contribution from pro-life advocates. “We know what they think, we’ve made our decision, what’s the point in involving them?” Abortion is controversial but what is truly divisive is the lumping of all opposing opinions as “those we don’t want to hear.” Still, it takes two to be divided and I can’t say with certitude that, had the cultural momentum been in our favour, we wouldn’t have been guilty of the same offense. Now, here’s some food for thought.
Nowhere has the failure to engage in meaningful debate been more aptly illustrated than by Morgentaler himself in the wake of his nomination. This article reads like an assignment in “spot the falsehoods, rhetoric and name-calling.” Come on! Calling people anti-choice or anti-life doesn’t help anything. We are no more anti-choice than pro-choice are anti-life. We just believe that the choice to end a pregnancy is not a legitimate one, just like the choice to kill someone in revenge or the choice to kidnap a child or the choice to use another person for sexual gratification. Similarly, all pro-choice advocates have not had an abortion nor do they think that everybody should have one (unless they are population control zealots but that’s another story). The Catholic Church is not opposed to women’s rights. It just happens to think that women’s rights are not advanced by abortion because abortion fundamentally undermines women’s dignity. You might disagree but at least admit that there is something to talk about here. In the same vein, all pro-lifers are not Catholics nor will changing the Pope end opposition to abortion. I think that what disappointed me (almost) as much as seeing Morgentaler nominated was the pettiness and small-mindedness of the man himself. I can’t even look up to him as an intelligent contributor to the debate. He really debases the institution of the Order of Canada, not so much because of his expected position on abortion but because of his unwillingness (or inability) to engage meaningfully in a debate about what matters so much to him.by