In Canada's conservative-minded Christian Churches, political issues like abortion are often discussed with a pre-conceived cloak of agreement -- an assumption that when it comes to “murdering babies” all Christians are like-minded and passionately angered by the apparent gross immorality being allowed each day at health clinics across the country. Church members often wear their pro-life status like a badge of honour, speaking out boldly against the killing.
A Facebook status linking her friends to a website featuring a picture of a fetus or a long list of testimonials from, now grown up, unaborted babies is a young, church-going women’s pride to post.
Social and face-to-face networking vigor of pro-life Christians has been renewed in recent days as Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre) sponsored a motion to create a committee with the purpose of reviewing Canada’s current declaration that a human being exists at the moment of complete birth, laid out in subsection 223 of the Criminal Code. This spark has now lit a flame, in conservative Christian Circles, following Wednesday’s vote on the motion. The motion was voted down with 203 nays versus 91 yeas, in a move backed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of his cabinet who voted against it. This, it seems, is a political calculation with simple math. Abortion is a contentious issue, bringing forth heated supporters from both pro-life and pro-choice camps. A majority government does not need to stir the pot to get its agenda through The House of Commons.
This move has led politically vocal conservative Christians to declare Harper as a wimp and to encourage residents of their ridings to send word to those 91 who voted for the motion that they are proud of their Members of Parliament and emboldened in their shared fight against abortion. This is a small and singular example of the many flawed methods conservative Christians use in an attempt to win the abortion war.
A Gallup poll in late 2001 asked Canadians their opinion and only 14% thought that abortions should be illegal in all circumstances. A poll administered by the National Post in 2002 showed that 78% of those asked believed women should have complete freedom in their decision to have or not have an abortion. An EKOS poll in 2010 revealed that only 27% of people describe themselves as pro-life. The Christian approach of changing the law will not work. Most people are either strongly pro-choice or don’t care at all.
Churches advocate praying for our government and I am a strong believer in this as well. Pray for wisdom and guidance; pray for God’s will and for His love to be displayed. Do not pray on election day that Conservatives win so they can stop abortion. Even if a Conservative majority were senseless enough to present, and pass, an anti-abortion law, this would not change public opinion, and the next party to win election would merely change the law again. Not to mention that, in the meantime, abortions would still take place, only in an illegal, unmonitored and much less sterile and safe manner.
Like altering the law, violent and condescending actions like bombing clinics, attacking doctors and forming hateful mobs in protest will not work; these actions are as ineffective as they are petulant and unchristian. In 1992, a Toronto clinic was firebombed during the night. In 1994, Vancouver doctor was shot with two bullets in his home. A doctor was stabbed in the lobby of his clinic in 2000. These are just Canadian acts of violence and only a few examples. Each act was committed by a “Christian” who wanted to discontinue the practice of abortion.
Forcing legal alteration and fostering violence will not work. These options should not even come to our minds, as Christians! Why are we not acting in love? Why are hatred, violence and judgement the only Christian positions on abortion?
Conservative Christians who want to see fewer abortions ought to work at it, and pray for it. We can give counselling to pregnant young women to discuss all options. We can offer parenting classes; organizations can be created to help connect young mothers with families looking to adopt. There are ways to make abortion a less attractive option. Judgement and condescension must not to be involved in any of those efforts.
Public opinion dictates that abortion will likely never be illegal in Canada. Abortions will occur. Instead of shaming a pregnant woman, why not offer her support and love? On a small scale, a child that would have been aborted may be adopted into a loving family. On a large scale, this could happen with many children and many couples hoping to become parents. Furthermore, those of us bearing the name of Christ can transform our public image. We can evolve into a loving and supportive community, rather than an exclusive, hate-filled and judgemental one.