Some time ago, the We Need A Law campaign released this graphic showing the results of a survey. Canadians were asked “As far as you know, when can an abortion be performed in Canada?” Only 8% answered correctly: abortion can be legally performed in Canada “any time up to 9 months.” Babies aren’t recognized by the law until they proceed entirely from the birth canal, actually; there is no abortion law in Canada. And judging from a recent local firsthand account, this lack of regulation does indeed result in relatively late abortions, right here in Victoria.
Why might we find abortions that happen later in pregnancy more distasteful? We might expect the results of earlier abortions to be less graphic and recognizable to view because the unborn baby is less developed. On some level, this is true. However, it’s worth noting that by 3-4 weeks, the baby’s brain, spinal cord and heartbeat are present, and the woman might not even know she is pregnant yet.
But when we forget that each unborn baby is human and start focusing on his or her level of development, we begin to lose our respect for all human life. With that said, we can still use the huge gap between what Canadians believe about abortion law and statistics and the reality as a starting point for conversation. When we bring an important and controversial issue to light, it’s helpful to establish common ground with those who we hope to educate. And with so few Canadians well-informed about these issues, there’s plenty of opportunity for dialogue.