Abortion, expression and politics

Dara Squires
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Dara Squires

I was going to write about abortion this week. I was going to write about New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and the overall lack of access to abortion in Canada and especially in the Atlantic Provinces.

I had planned to discuss how a woman’s right to choose has been upheld  by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and how the Supreme Court of Canada has distinctly ruled that it is a woman’s choice. And then I was going to delve into how we institute abortion practices in our country and how granting permission but limiting access is akin to saying everyone has the right to an education and then closing the schools.

I was going to argue against the idea that we need legalization laws around abortion as right now it is a right and creating laws around it would limit that right. I was going to suggest that instead we need laws around access to abortion and the responsibility of provinces to make it available as part of their health care system.

All of that would have been treading dangerous waters for me. I’ve had contracts taken away and jobs threatened for writing about politics — federal or provincial — before. Financially it’s not worth it. I don’t make enough writing this column to justify risking a better paying contract or job. Emotionally it’s not worth it either. I’ve had critics suggest I write this column for the “fame.” Trust me, I often receive more and worse criticism than I do compliments.

Morally, though? The fact is, I’m opinionated and stubborn and on top of that I have a strong moral code against standing by and doing nothing when I see wrong. That is what compelled me to start writing a parenting column in the first place — I saw so much wrong being done to parents and the institution of parenting by “experts” looking for a quick buck and a book contract.

And what has stopped me from writing about abortion this week is my moral code. I will not jump on a bandwagon because the CBC led a clarion call to all protestors and declare someone else’s rights invalid.

Related: Coleman reaffirms stance on abortion laws

The right to abortion is protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The central right within that Charter, the one that defines us as a country and a democracy, is the freedom of expression. It’s a right I’ve butted heads against. And it’s a right I support whole-heartedly. There have been very limited occasions where I felt someone’s right to expression should be supressed and these all involved immediate threat of harm to others. In this, the courts and I agree.

There’s not a lot the Coleman family and I have in common. I don’t agree with their politics and I don’t agree with their religious beliefs. And I know they don’t agree with my support of abortion and gay marriage.

One thing we do have in common though, is that we have beliefs and codes that we hold dear. Another thing we have in common is the right to express those beliefs as long as they don’t harm others.

So Yvonne Coleman and her family attended a pro-life rally in Corner Brook. As someone who has lived in Corner Brook, this doesn’t surprise me. They attend every year as far as I recall. They’ve never tried to hide their personal religious beliefs and they shouldn’t have to.

As premier, Frank Coleman will have to answer to whether such a rally is indeed a political rally (or alternatively a religious vigil) and whether his attendance at the rally puts his party’s politics in question. But Frank Coleman isn’t premier yet and his wife is not ever going to be the premier.

Politically, the correct thing would be for the Coleman family to distance themselves from hotpoint issues such as this. Coleman’s insistence that his pro-life stance is personal but that he respects and will uphold the laws of our people is admirable but not quite enough for a premier.

The party could, and in my opinion should, ask Coleman to not attend such rallies while he is premier. This would give him a choice to make as to whether he can represent a party that asks him not to express his beliefs so publically. But they cannot, and should not, ask him — and nor should anyone — to declare his personal beliefs invalid. In a time when our provincial leaders have torn apart transparency and access to information, Coleman’s stance is clear and transparent. And we can comment upon what he believes when the election is called.

What no one can do, though, and be morally or legally in the right, is ask Frank Coleman’s wife not to attend such rallies. She is her own individual, as is every member of her family. There is no justification to tell her not to believe and express her own, individual and personal beliefs merely because she is the wife of the premier in waiting. To do so would be to set back women’s rights, deny her Charter rights, and even to distract attention from the crux of the issue at debate.

A woman’s right to expression in our country is as protected as her right to abortion. These rights should not ever be in question. The debate should center, instead, in how we provide every individual access to their full complement of rights and how to protect that access and freedom through legislation that makes their rights the center of all laws.


You can comment on this column or access previous editions of Readily A Parent using the following short link: http://bit.ly/DaraSquires.

Organizations: Rights, Canadian Charter, Supreme Court of Canada CBC

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Canada Atlantic Provinces.I Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Peter Rowsell
    April 25, 2014 - 23:28

    If someone wants to kill their baby, they can kill it. If Frank Coleman doesn't agree with killing babes why should that make him less of a Premier? Irrelevant. Yes, people have the righttochoose. You don't want a baby, don't conceive one.

  • bill
    April 25, 2014 - 19:03

    Ms Squires presumes to understand Mr. Coleman's religous beliefs and declares that she doesn't agree with them. Does she have some inside knowledge about the Colemans' as she also says they they regularily attend the pro-life march every Good Friday as far as she can recall. Does she make a note of all the others who attend as well? Ms Squires presumes a lot about a person based on a single issue. This makes me question her judgement.

  • Donna Thistle
    April 23, 2014 - 18:45

    nicely done Dara!

  • Just pointing it out
    April 23, 2014 - 14:42

    I found it odd that the writer states that she does not share the same view as the Colemans' on gay marriage. I have not seen a statement in the media regarding Frank Coleman's view on the issue (or his family's), so I was just wondering if this was a presumption that since they are against abortion that they are also against gay marriage, or if it is a fact.

  • Pro Choice
    April 23, 2014 - 12:57

    I once use to bash Abortion. I was against it. I said if I was rapped Id never have one. I know many girls who have had one. My teenage best friend had a couple and I dont agree with that. It should not be used as birth control. However in all other perdictamints I agree. Pro Choice. I had an abortion. Though I regret it horribly and felt like I was forced because mid way I said DONT I dont want to. It should be a persons choice. I am a single mom at the time of 2. I got back with my high school sweet heart and he had also had 2 kids we had for half a month. I became pregnant. I was torn. I hated myself I still do sometimes. Things were going down hill we were already broke up when I found out I was pregnant. I couldnt face being a single mom of 3 and I was still taking care of his kids. I didnt want to see or know anything about the baby. I cut myself off and when I was exactly 8 weeks old I went to st. johns. The experince was horrific. I listened to people how this was there 8 and 9th one. I was the only one in there crying and not wanting to. You wait in this little area for your name. You go up have an ultrasound and take meds. You go into literally this little closet thing where you get councilling I said I didnt want to hear it, I dont want to do this I just have to right there and then they shouldve sent me on my way. You then wait in the hallway you go lay on a table and they give you laughing gas (depending on how far along you are) and it only takes minutes. You then wait again before they send you on your way. I hated it. I wish I didnt. I am now a single mom of 3. Wishing I could hold that baby everyday. BUT I am still pro choice. I could never give my child away. Id never do it. I would never be able to go 9 months loving that baby and then hand it over. Abortion was the only way. Many ladies have abortions for many different reasons. Who are we to judge. Its their bodies. I am 100% absent from sexual activities now. I have no interest in men. (no im not gay) I just want to raise my kids then start a life with someone after. Some people cant take birth control. It affects them in different ways. So bc is not always an option. Condoms dont always work. If we take away abortion we are forcing people to have kids with no other option besides giving that child up for them to suffer. I suffer from having an abortion but id suffer even more knowing I had a child out there. Dont bash people... people goign threw abortions need support. STOP BULLYING!

  • No Right to Abortion
    April 23, 2014 - 10:00

    In January 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a case brought by Henry Morgentaler challenging the law, struck down Section 251 of the Criminal Code on procedural grounds. It found that the law was not applied equally across the country. Not all hospitals had established therapeutic abortion committees. Some had committees that simply approved any requests and others were far stricter. The court did agree that the state had a legitimate interest in protecting the fetus, referring to such an interest as a “perfectly valid legislative objective,” and invited parliament to draft another law restricting abortion. In the Morgentaler ruling, the court did not declare abortion a constitutional right. Only one of the seven Supreme Court Justices who heard the case, Madam Justice Bertha Wilson, wrote in support of a woman’s right to abortion, and then only in the first trimester of pregnancy. Dissenting Justices McIntyre and La Forest JJ. wrote in their opinion, “Save for the provisions of the Criminal Code permitting abortion where the life or health of the woman is at risk, no right of abortion can be found in Canadian law, custom or tradition and the Charter, including s.7, does not create such a right.”

    • Joe Q.
      April 23, 2014 - 11:00

      And the wheels on the bus go round,round, round....

  • Just saying
    April 23, 2014 - 09:05

    Dara your opinions on parenting and real men left personally left a bad taste in my mouth, however I have to agree with much of what you stated on the abortion issue as it relates to personal choice and rights related to giving personal opinions. I personally believe that the Coleman's are free to operate any way they want but when and if Mr. Coleman becomes Premier then as far as I am concerned he should place his personal family opinions on the back burner... And leave them there while in politics. I also believe he sh refrain from walking with and showing his support of the opposing self interest groups as premier, after all he represents me as well and I do not agree with his opinion as it stands.