Revisiting "Closed" Debates


Mnr. Ouellet's recent comments and letters in the press have drawn some heavy criticism from commentators and citizens, and personal attacks by Facebook groups, referring to him as being a "primate." Ah, the internet. There is something about it that tends to draw out the worst in people; its anonymity affords people the chance to be utterly demeaning, cutting and vindictive consequence free. Alas, I digress already. One is to suppose that the attacks on his comments and especially those against his character are due to his public opposition to abortion. Which is shooting the messenger, because he is simply stating the official position of the Catholic Church (to which 45% of Canadians at least nominally belong) on the matter, but I digress again. The principal argument against his comments is that abortion is legal, and the debate was settled over forty years ago, so it need not be revisited. Which is partly true - abortion was legalized over forty years ago - but at the same time, the argument is fundamentally flawed in its approach to the subject. In a democratic society, no legal debate should ever be closed for the rest of time. That contradicts the very nature of democracy. Society's values change, which entails constantly revisiting old debates and if need be, modifying the laws that were passed as a result. The fact that abortion was legalized under Trudeau does not mean that the subject can never be discussed again. Had we followed that model in the 1970s, abortion would never have been legalized in the first place, because the previous generation believed (and most to this day still believe) that it was wrong. A healthy democratic system requires that debates be revisited from time to time so that voters can make their views known. And occasionally, laws are made, revised, or repealed as a consequence of revisiting those debates. That is what differentiates democracy from dictatorship. The question therefore, should not be, "Why is the Monseigneur talking about abortion when we already debated it," but rather, "How do Canadians feel about this?" It may be that there is no change in opinion, but suppressing a debate just because it has previously been debated is not the correct democratic approach. In fact, it is an anti-democratic approach.

there is no possibility of debate cause it is a dead topic

There shouldn't be any such thing as a dead topic in a democratic society. They should ALL be open for debate.

Freudian slip...using the word dead.

Abortion on demand is not a topic that is dead in Canada. Women and those who support a liberal and feminist agenda would like it to be so. The facts remain that a dead baby is the result and a dead conscience and heart for the mother.

I can't really say anything about people's consciences, particularly those I don't know. What I can say, however, is that as society's values change, laws should and generally do change to reflect those values. Legislation is nothing more than a reflection of the people's values, so it's a necessary part of a healthy democracy to review laws passed by previous generations to determine if the people want them to stay as they are, or have them modified or repealed. A government that refuses to engage in that process isn't a democratic one, it's a dictatorship.