A few months ago, I watched on television as Canada’s governor-general, representing Queen Elizabeth II, the queen of Canada, invested Justin Trudeau with the authority of prime minister. Trudeau’s Liberal Party won a significant majority of seats in the Canadian parliament in the recent election. As leader of the party, Trudeau thus was entitled to be prime minister.
Trudeau, young, charismatic and quite popular, swore allegiance to the queen first in French, thereby acknowledging his Quebec heritage. He identifies himself as a Roman Catholic. His wife is a Catholic. They are rearing their three children as Catholics.
He also resolutely supports legalized abortion. During the campaign, he promised that if he became prime minister, he would do everything possible to remove all restrictions on abortion currently in Canadian law. (Abortion has been legal in Canada for a while. Some restraints presently are on the law books.)
Trudeau did not seize control of the Canadian government in a revolution. He was duly elected, with many Catholic votes. The Liberal Party, with Trudeau as its head, swept traditionally Catholic Quebec.
Quebecois Catholics are hardly the only Catholic voters in democracies to fall behind Catholic politicians who favor legalized abortion. Across the globe, Catholic pro-abortion politicians attain office because Catholics vote for them in free, fair elections. Here in the United States, the 10 states with the heaviest Catholic populations, excepting Louisiana and Texas, have elected to the U.S. Senate candidates who profess to be Catholics but are friendly to abortion.
Looking around the world, it would be hard to find a national leader who says that he or she is a Catholic but who also stands with the Church in opposing abortion. Personally, I find these political figures disgusting. Even more, I find indefensible the Catholics who put these people in office.
Going back to Canada, candidate Justin Trudeau said that he supports abortion since any woman must have the “right” to decide to end her pregnancy. The same argument about “rights” is heard around the world. It has been heard in the United States for a long time. Here and abroad, the discussion about abortion has shifted from the central, inevitable fact of abortion, namely the violent, premeditated destruction of an innocent human being, the unborn, to speaking first, last and primarily of the mother’s “right” to choose an abortion.
This shift has put any debate about abortion into another arena, at least in America. It draws to the side of a pro-abortion position all the emotional, historic attachment of Americans to the right to make their own decisions, personal freedom and freedom of conscience.
In the past generation, the claim that a woman has the “right” to an abortion has coincided with the wider movement for equality of women with men in all aspects of life. The pro-abortion position thus has been able to climb aboard several cherished bandwagons, and always lost in the discussion is the unborn’s right to life.
Returning any conversation to the primary fact of abortion, namely, to repeat, the right to life of the unborn, is hard. Our culture, and obviously other Western cultures, has forgotten the fundamental result of abortion, putting everything secondary to “rights” defined without regard for others affected by individual decisions.
Abortion is killing. It is nothing else. More broadly, acceptance of abortion weakens respect for human life in other phases.
We Catholics must oppose abortion. We owe it to the unborn and to the well-being of our civilization.
Msgr. Owen F. Campion is OSV’s associate publisher.