Letter: Religious rights shouldn’t override women’s rights

RE: March for Life is about preserving humanity, June 28-July 26

The nonsensical notion that life begins at conception is a religious conceit. If your faith is such that you believe that a child exists from the moment of conception then it’s your right to make your own decisions about your health and physical autonomy based on that. But, as with so many things that are part of personal faith, when people seek to impose those beliefs on others, it ceases to become a matter of faith and then becomes an issue of systemic and cultural oppression.

The freedom of religion identified in the Fundamental Freedoms section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to protect the freedom of assembly and worship without limitation and interference from the government, other organizations, and individuals. It does not allow for the imposition and transformation of religious belief into law. Whether abortion is considered against the will of God is irrelevant in this discussion and has no place in shaping laws regarding the level of reproductive healthcare women receive.

It is easy to understand why abortion is portrayed as a regretful decision when we culturally shame and condemn women as murderers, despite the fact that the vast majority of abortions occur well before a fetus can feel pain. Discussions about whether abortion is murder or fetal pain, and regulating healthcare as a means of helping women, are merely a distraction from the horrifying belief that a clump of cells is of more importance than the life of a woman carrying them. If pro-life supporters truly supported the sanctity of life then they would be supporters of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and anti-poverty movements, not hassling people outside medical clinics and in downtown Ottawa.

A woman’s right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy to term is a personal decision between her and her doctor. It is the right of pro-life supporters to gather on Parliament Hill and protest in support of their beliefs. However, they do not have the right to impose their religious beliefs on others and bar any person from their right to receive a routine medical treatment.