By Andrea Mrozek And Rebecca Walberg
National Post, Aug. 21, 2009

‘Safe, legal and rare” is the mantra of consensus-seeking pro-choice feminists, and one that at least acknowledges that abortion is not a desirable outcome for any pregnancy. But today in Quebec, abortion activists are rebranding. Try this newly truncated motto on for size: “just keep it legal.”

Bill 34 in Quebec was an attempt to legislate the same standards for all out-patient medical clinics. The bill, it’s worth noting, never mentioned abortion, but that didn’t stop abortion activists from shifting into high-gear apoplexy. Those who purportedly stand for women’s rights jumped to demand lower standards for their exclusively female patients. And on Aug. 17, they won. Quebec’s beleaguered Health Minister Yves Bolduc retreated, and will now wait for the Quebec College of Physicians to create new guidelines.

Now Bolduc made it clear he’s not pro-life. Bill 34 wasn’t an end-run attempt to curtail access to abortions. That’s a laughable idea in Quebec of all places, the province with the country’s highest abortion rate. This was an attempt to apply uniform standards to all medical clinics. Who knew something so anodyne could cause such animus? But behind the hysteria lies the phenomenon known to pro-lifers everywhere as “the abortion distortion.” (We first learned the term from Rachel MacNair, a pro-life feminist and psychologist.) The abortion distortion dictates that where abortion is mentioned, or even just implied as in this case, a double standard comes into play. Even where women’s health is at stake.

The distortion happens when a perfectly valid study showing poor mental health effects for women after abortion is ignored, or worse still, torn apart as was done with the credible work of New Zealand psychologist David Fergusson. It happens when physical side effects post-abortion are kept under wraps, such as the credible link to subsequent pre-term deliveries after an abortion. It happens when pro-life women and men are summarily dismissed as “misogynists” in part because a liberal elite is fearful of losing the abortion-on-demand status quo.

And the abortion distortion happens when abortion clinics are exempt from the rules that apply to other medical clinics, as they now will be in Quebec. The abortion distortion is magnified when this is trumpeted as a victory for “women’s rights.”

No doubt, it would have been a sweet irony for prolifers that a law from a prochoice politician which failed to mention abortion even once could potentially have caused the closure of three abortion clinics. Still, prolifers are reticent to get into this sort of regulation game: After all, you can polish an electric chair to an effervescent shine, but it’s still an instrument of death.

Yet the more telling irony is that those who run abortion clinics have rushed not to criticize the proposed legislation in general, but only to demand that they be exempt. The rules for out-patient eye surgery clinics, oral surgery offices and dermatologists meet with their approval. In short, the new standards are just fine for other facilities, but they mustn’t be applied to clinics that perform surgery on women’s reproductive organs.

The reality in Quebec is that the province has the dubious distinction of possessing Canada’s highest abortion rate at more than 40 abortions for every 100 live births. It’s legal, to be sure. It’s not rare. Now, who knows whether it will be safe? But who cares? They have unfettered access. Those who typically advocate for increased regulation as a defense against misuse of power are demanding they be permitted to fly below the radar.

For a generation, orthodox feminists have insisted that to be pro-woman means unquestioning financial, political and moral support for abortion under any circumstance. Bill 34 reveals that many of these activists are not pro-woman or prochoice, but rather pro-abortion and that politicians who even unknowingly deviate from their crafted lines will be punished.

This is the story of an innocuous bill that called the abortion clinics’ bluff. They have long argued they stand up for women. A toast then, to women’s rights and freedoms: “Safe, legal and rare”? Quebec’s just keeping it legal. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, no questions, no standards, no safety. Just legal.

— Andrea Mrozek and Rebecca Walberg are founding members of

© National Post, Aug. 21, 2009. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the authors.