Thursday, July 10, 2008

You guys are afraid to talk about abortion, Maclean's tells its readers

[This post has been updated]Maclean's magazine has developed contrarianism to a fine art; one can almost imagine editorial meetings where the senior staff decide what Canadians believe so they can gainsay it in a cover story. In fact, it seems to be publisher and editor Ken Whyte's favoured strategy, even if if means poking a sharp stick into an issue that most Canadians would like to be left alone. Certainly that's true of this week's cover article on abortion. National affairs editor Andrew Coyne elaborates on the view that "a strange silence" has fallen over the issue. He asks: Is "settling" for a non-decision any way for a democracy to behave?

Canadians, says Maclean's, are ignorant of the facts surrounding our abortion legislation, or rather the lack of it. And its main coverline says that Canadians are "afraid" to have a debate about it. A release promoting the issue puts it this way:
An entire generation has grown up since the Supreme Court's January 1988 ruling in Regina v. Morgentaler. Memories grow dim, and myths abound. So it will no doubt come as a shock to many to learn, not only that Canada has no abortion law to this day, but that the issue was never actually decided - by anyone. That's not what the Court intended. It's not what Members of Parliament voted for. It just... happened.
Of course there is another perspective possible; that Canadians are not shocked, know precisely what happened and have decided to be satisfied to leave things as they are. Far from being afraid, they are content with the status quo. But then Maclean's couldn't declare Canada "a lawless society".

[UPDATE: Maclean's columnist Paul Wells posts a response on his Inkless Wells blog under the heading Industry Expert to Maclean's: Please hurry back to blandness. There follows a mixed bag of comments from readers.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Maclean's publishes another story that's not often talked about - that evangelical Christians are religious lunatics that need to be deprogrammed.

5:29 pm  
Blogger Miss May said...

Maybe we can also have a debate about slavery, or women being able to vote, or a man's right to beat his wife, you know - because an entire generation or two have grown up since it was decided those things were a bad a idea. (snark)

Canada respects a woman's right to choose and as a country we decided that the state has no position in her uterus. The anti-choice fringe needs to shut up and get over it, especially those who are the loudest - those without a uterus.

8:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except "Canadians" aren't all settled ont he matter. If they were, why is Morgentaler's receipt of the Order of Canada so controversial? If a third of the country is uncomfortable with the non-law on abortion, does that make the matter "settled"?

I'm pro-choice, but it's nonsense to suggest that the abortion debate is "over". The Supreme Court certainly didn't end the debate in 1988, and it's been carrying on ever since. The only difference is that today, too many of my fellow travellers prefer to assert the debate is over, the better to protect their preferred policy position.

8:43 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

To be accurate, the post did not say the debate was "over", only that most Canadians want to let the issue lie.

9:17 am  
Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said...


If a third of the country is uncomfortable with the non-law on abortion then one could argue that the debate continues, but for now, the matter's settled.

Until, that is, the other two thirds change their minds, or we get a government that wants to change the legal status of abortion against the will of the two-thirds of the country who are comfortable today. Frankly, I just don't see either of those things happening in the foreseeable future.

10:05 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, is anyone taking bets when Kenny Whyte falls off his one trick pony, and Rogers helps put him out to pasture?

Contrarian, feh. This is the only shtick the guy knows. It's tired. It's boring. It's so Saturday Night, circa early 1990s and gee, that worked out well. (How much did that slag piece on Craig Keilburger cost, huh, Ken? Around $320 grand in damages? Oh, and Brian Mulroney on the cover of SN as "Mr. Clean" -- sure got that one right, huh, Ken?)

The irony is that Maclean's is so predictably contrarian that it's entirely predictable.

5:55 pm  
Blogger iperialist said...

I think the fact that we don't have a proper law on abortion in this country is the only indictment needed to support the cover. This is a topic that needs a some sort of reasonably well defined boundaries. I don't think the nation wants unlimited abortion, nor does it want a prohibition.

Debates are a primary input of law. It seems to me a lack of will is a better explanation for the lack of law, than a lack of need.

12:29 am  

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