In Canada, social values around abortion, end of life are far from settled

In Canada, social values around abortion, end of life are far from settled

By Shachi Kurl, Executive Director

The federal government says it’s received massive response to a soon-to-close consultation process aimed at determining whether to change legislation that governs medical aid in dying. As new polling from the Angus Reid Institute shows, 80 per cent of Canadians believe it should be easier – not more difficult – to end their lives with the help of a medical professional. Thus, it may feel that this debate, and the government’s subsequent actions, are settled.

Yet tension remains at the intersection where freedom of conscience and freedom of choice collide.

Indeed, it’s true that while the vast majority in this country appear comfortable with easing end-of-life restrictions, past polling also shows they don’t believe (with the exception of Quebec) that individual doctors and nursing homes should be legally obligated to perform such procedures if they object on religious grounds.

This apparent contradiction is also present in other social values questions that some have declared to be behind us. For a passionate and not insignificant segment of the population – often religiously oriented – they are anything but decided.

We see this conflict playing out on the political stage. Conventional wisdom now accepts that outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer failed to form government in the last election in part because of his refusal to march in Pride parades and his inability to reassure voters he wasn’t planning to bring in an abortion law. The reality, particularly where CPC supporters are concerned, is far more complex.

For the rest of this piece, please view it on the Ottawa Citizen’s site where it was initially published.

Image – Andrew Scheer/Flickr