Elizabeth May was asked to comment on abortion and gay marriage at a convent during the federal by-election. Instead of spouting off some evasive political platitude, she shared some very candid and profound thoughts in a respectful manner (as I see it anyway):
But I think there's been a moral dimension to this debate that's quite complex, and I think deserves respect. So I respect people who say, "I'm against abortion because there is a right to life, and the fetus is sacred." ...So I see it as a moral dilemma, and I don't see it as a clear-cut black-and-white... And I think one of the things that I would like to bring to Canadian politics is to show enough respect to the other view, that we could actually have a dialogue about it. Because one of the things that is wrong about polarization is the language becomes a barrier to understanding... So if one group of people say, "A woman has a right to choose", I get queasy, because I'm against abortion. I don't think a woman has a frivolous right to choose. What I don't want is a desperate woman to die in an illegal abortion. But I also don't think it's right to say - Well, you see, you end up having this conflict... What I'd like to do in politics - and I've talked about this in some other settings besides here today, because this is the first time it's come up in London North Centre - what I'd like to do in politics is to be able to create the space to say, "Abortions are legal because they must be to avoid women dying. But nobody in their right mind is for abortions." ...So can't we then have a different kind of conversation? What kind of programs and strategies do we need to have to reduce the number of legal abortions that take place? Instead of having this rather polarized and, you know, really, futile debate that only fuels divisions and makes both sides feel as though they're, you know, in some form of battle.
What I take from this, is that while Elizabeth May is personally against abortion, she sees it as necessary to have the choice for the reason of safety. Therefore she is respecting both sides and looking for some kind of strategy to reduce the number of abortions in general. When she says that no one in their right mind is for abortions, I think she means that no sane person would get their jollies out of killing an unborn child (hopefully).
For some reason all of this offended Ms. Rebick in the extreme:
There is no middle ground on the abortion issue as you are no doubt finding out. The organized opposition to abortion in this country as in the United States does not care if women die... I personally have debated right-to-lifers for 30 years. There is no dialogue here. They put the life of a foetus above the rights and even the lives of women. Whether or not you agree with this, by raising the issue in the way that you did, you contribute to their position... We had a debate on abortion in this country for decades. Raising the need for further debate as you have done is a serious error in judgment and in the unlikely possibility that Stephen Harper wins a majority in the next election, you could have done irreparable harm.
'Right-to-lifers' don't care if women die? Again, most sane people care about all life. There may be a very few extremists who might think that the life of the preborn child usurps all other life, but my guess is that most reasonable Canadians are somewhere in the middle on this issue.
And what is wrong with discussion in an open and free society?
By putting down such a calm, logical and thoughtful point of view such as that which Elizabeth May put forward, Judy Rebick has cast herself as a vengeful, uncompromising extremist which does her side of the debate no service at all.
My hunch is that Canadians would like to have the kind of discussion that Ms. May proposes, and Judy Rebick may have unwittingly contributed to that process.
Please share more of your outrage, Ms. Rebick.
* * * *
Oh, Judy. You really blew it. Kate's picked this up now!! With her readership, this is not going away anytime soon.