By Letter to the Editor on March 19, 2020.
From time to time, I read reports of surveys conducted by Lethbridge College showing that southern Albertans are becoming increasingly supportive of abortion and euthanasia. I have always been skeptical of these surveys and now I know why, having taken part in one myself.
John Warren (March 10 Letters) argues that our MP should follow the will of her constituents, 81.2 per cent of whom, according to the most recent survey “support legal medical assistance in dying.” Of course! Who wouldn’t if the question is posed that way? If, instead, respondents had been asked if they supported ending the lives of terminally ill patients who no longer wish to live, I suspect the numbers might have been quite different. There is a difference between providing medical assistance to a dying patient and actively causing death. If the question had been whether or not respondents agreed that a B.C. hospice should be denied government funds (as is the case) for refusing to practice euthanasia, I’d be surprised if there were majority support.
Likewise “Abortion is a matter of choice that should be decided by a woman and her doctor.” Well, who else but a doctor is in a position to determine that an abortion is medically necessary? But that is not the actual situation in Canada. If the question had been “Do you think abortion should be legally available for any reason at any stage of pregnancy, without needing any prior medical referral?” (which is the actual situation), I doubt that the responses would have been as positive. What about those not infrequent cases where women feel forced into abortions by parents or boyfriends, thereby making a mockery of the argument that a woman has a right to decide what happens to her own body?
The situation is much more nuanced that at first appears. National polls which ask more specific questions consistently find widespread support for a variety of safeguards that do not legally exist in Canada today and are opposed by the so-called “pro-choice” lobby. This support of safeguards is true even of the majority of Canadians who otherwise favour unrestricted access to abortion.
As to whether our MP should reflect the views of her constituents, the fact is she was returned to Parliament at the last federal election with a large majority, which implies that she does reflect the views of that majority on most issues.
J. Cameron Fraser