Elizabeth May Not Anti-Choice but Not Pro-Choice Either
In a letter to the National Post, April 19, 2007, Elizabeth May reacted with fury at having her views on abortion variously characterized as regressive, conservative, and, most incendiarily, “anti-choice.” So strong was May’s indignation that she thought it worse than being associated with a nominated candidate who described the 9/11 attacks as “beautiful”. In her attempt to set the record straight she wrote:
“I am strongly in favour of a woman’s right to access a safe and legal abortion. However, I think the polarization of the issue does our society a disservice.”
However, based on her comments during her run at the by-election in London North Centre, she confirms that she is vehemently against abortion, believing that a woman doesn’t have the “frivolous” right to choose. Although, she concedes that “therapeutic abortion” is necessary to avoid women dying during illegal abortions.
Still, her personal views are to me of less concern than the position of the Green Party of Canada, about which Canadians know very little. “The party’s position,” says May, “is that we must maintain access to therapeutic abortions.” The Leader of Green Party speaking on behalf of its policy says:
“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.” I’ve talked women out of having abortions. I would never have an abortion myself, not in a million years. I can’t imagine the circumstances that would ever reduce me to it.”
It mustn’t be missed that what she is strongly in favour of is access to therapeutic abortion, not strongly in favour of reproductive freedom. A woman’s choice is not a matter of morality, right, or principle. It is not about the right over her own body (incidentally one of the fundamental rights of liberalism, Greens consider this “frivolous”). The Green Party seems to support abortion not as a matter of reproductive freedom, but out of reluctant necessity. Abortion is a pragmatic, not a principled choice. Abortion must be made legal solely to circumvent the possibility of a woman dying while performing an illegal abortion. Any other reason is “frivolous” or crazy.
Is this grudgingly conciliatory stance simply one Christian person attempting to reconcile her faith with a contentious moral issue, or is this about a Party taking a position that could possibly placate the religious right or the morally conservative down the road? I have yet to be convinced that the Green Party is not composed of right-wing Libertarians who posture as environmentalists either to obfuscate their ideological core and make themselves more palatable or to overcome white middle-class guilt. Granted this last statement is a bit of a cheap shot, but I am really interested in the Green Party revealing its ideological core and its stances on social, political, economic issues. We know so little. A perusal through their blogs reveals a fractious, disorganized picture. Nominated candidates too seem to be all over the place.