Friday, 20 July 2007

If a Thing ain't Broke, Why Try to Fix It?

A frank admission up front: My bias is in the direction of women not aborting babies. Of the two choices that pregnant women can make (having the baby vs. aborting the baby), I would prefer that they go the whole nine yards, er, months.

Second frank admission: My preference is that pregnant women would choose to keep their babies, rather than being forced, coerced or otherwise compelled to do so (or being forced, coerced or otherwise compelled to abort for that matter).

And in the interests of full disclosure, my convictions are based on moral/religious, democratic and medical grounds.

As most people probably know, my personal preferences reflect the present state of affairs in Canada--most women do see their pregnancies through, and they do so knowing that there is no civil law that would restrict them from choosing to abort if that were their wish. The abortion rate is falling. The vast majority of Canadian hospitals (about 85%) don't even provide legal, medically funded abortions, presumably because of lack of demand.

Why then did I accept a consulting contract to do some work for a pro-life society? Hasn't the pro-life view, to a large degree, carried the day? Fair question--one I asked myself more than once before accepting the offer.

My number one reason for wading into this controversy comes from my many years as a university professor and municipal politician (25 years of the former, 21 of the latter). If a pluralistic society is to function properly, given the almost limitless choices that such societies provide, its citizens must have access to full information in order to assess alternatives.

Information comes from an endless variety of sources, of course--schools, the media, government/Parliament, libraries, the World Wide Web, Hollywood (North, South and otherwise), and advocacy groups (some of these government supported either through grants or charitable status). Biases abound. Avoiding bias is impossible in human interaction. But if the information is all there, and the schools do their job of teaching us to think critically, then we should be able to see through the biases and make up our own minds.

My problem is with groups attempting to discredit information by simply slamming the source, rather than evaluating the data; by ruling out by definition certain kinds of information and opinion; by carefully limiting what will be revealed; and by soft-pedaling information that doesn't fit the ideology. Or by outright lying. A good deal of this goes on every day. And it limits the ability to choose.

My goal for this, my humble blog is to evaluate the two alternatives pro choice advocates view as legitimate (life vs. abortion), in an attempt to ensure that care is taken to present all the facts surrounding each choice. I don't pretend to be an expert on these matters. But I do know something about research--and I am passionate about people making fully informed decisions.

We'll see what happens.