Monday, February 27, 2012

An Obscure Relic of Canada’s Past: Pro-Life Communists

I happened upon this pro-life pamphlet from the Canadian Party of Labour, published circa. 1973. It is entitled: Abortion, Population Control, Genocide: The ’Scientific’ Killers and Who Sent for Them.

The Canadian Party of Labour was part of the anti-revisionist strain of socialism. Anti-Revisionists opposed “fake communists” like the ones who headed the Soviet Union at the time. They thought they represented “authentic” Marxist-Leninism. One of their best-known mottos was “30 for 40”, meaning receiving 40 hours’ pay for 30 hours’ work.

The pamphlet does not argue strictly from a perspective of fetal personhood but it is assumed throughout. The main thrust of their argument is that abortion amounts to the genocide of blacks and the working class, and that “under capitalism, free abortions are forced abortions.”

I strongly recommend you read it, as it has loads of interesting tidbits. Many of their arguments presented are the ones we bourgeois pro-lifers use today. Sometimes it’s a little painful to read, because their hearts were in the right place, but they genuinely believed that once socialism was in place, women won’t have to abort! They’ll have everything they need to raise children. Very sad.

One of the passages that struck me the most was the communist indictment of Catholic bishops for their lukewarm opposition (or even support) or abortion. Now the author was completely wrong about the history of the Church’s past prohibition of abortion. However, the Church’s limp-wrested opposition gave him reason for his cynicism:

As for the Catholic Church, the hierarchy in Rome continues to keep one foot in the feudal era, but big-city Cardinals in a number of capitalist countries have broken in practice with Rome on this question. The once-powerful Catholic anti-abortion propaganda machine in the U.S. has in the last few years let out barely a whimper as the bosses move to institute a policy of legal and free abortions nationwide. In Holland the Catholic hierarchy has come out openly for abortions. Probably the next Pope will get a “revelation” on this subject bringing Church policy officially in line with the needs and desires of the capitalist ruling classes.

It is interesting to read that, in light of the history, knowing that a Pope from a communist country would accede to the throne of Peter and reinforce opposition to abortion, not soften it.

And what about a woman’s right to own her own body?

A woman’s control of her own body is the essence of the abortion movement, it is often claimed. The question of control of one’s body is not a sex question, but a class question. Capitalist men and women control their own bodies; working men and women sell their bodies to the capitalists for a specified period of time. The ability to obtain an abortion has nothing to do with this. This is elementary Marxism.

They published a letter of resignation said to be from a woman who worked at the Family Planning Federation of Canada. The thrust of the letter is very pro-life:

Through various themes such as “Can you afford to have another child” the Federation insinuates that children are an undesirable burden for poor people thereby creating an arbitrary priority group for family planning motivational propaganda. Generally called “the less well informed” they are lumped together under the multipurpose blanket phrase “lower socio-economic groups”. Often they are cited in scapegoat fashion as being those in most need. Isn’t this a long way from the stated goal of the campaign – namely to inform Canadians of their newly given right to family planning information. Do you mean that they are most in need because we think they need to practice family planning or because they are ignorant of even one reliable method of contraception and where to get it. The issue now becomes motivation vs. coercion and the question is this: Is a couple earning $6,000 per year equally entitled to have the number of children they want (whether it be 2 or 6) as a couple earning $15,000 per year? If the answer is yes then why all the emphasis on their being in the greatest need when statistics support the fact that unplanned pregnancies are common to all classes and ignorance of family planning methods equally prevalent throughout society.

Through the skill of marketing experts motivational techniques are being used to “sell” family planning to the public. If you think sell is too strong a term or perhaps inaccurate consider the following. The campaign was developed by marketing experts.

About Henry Morgentaler, they write:

Their hero Dr. Morgentaler of Montreal, the abortionist, is proof of the way the current movement plays into the hands of the ruling class. While they’re misleading people into his defense committees, he’s got half a million $ in a Swiss and is evading income taxes. He’s not in the business because of his “concern for women”. He also supports population control in “poor countries” and pushes euthanasia.

This may or may not be true. Ideological pamphlets like this sometimes make unsubstantiated statements, but it’s just interesting that they would make this claim.

I wonder if the party remained equally pro-life until its dissolution in 1984.

I Googled the author, Paul Saba, to see what I could see. A doctor of the same name signed a pro-life letter addressed to Health Minister Allan Rock in 2001. It could be the same man, or perhaps someone related to him. I suspect they are the same person.