The abortion debate will be polarized no matter what, and if the politicians like Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth don't ensure that, the media will.
On March 14 Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth talked with reporters about his private members' motion asking for a public discussion on when life begins. Though his comparison between unborn persons and the civil rights movement is a stretch, Mr.Woodworth rationally presented a strong argument for the need of a public discussion surrounding abortion.
Mr.Woodworth's exchange with reporters is an example of how conflict and polarization is occasionally, if not more so, the result of the media and not from the standard-bearers of partisanship.
It is interesting to compare the calm and sensible tone of Stephen Woodworth, a partisan elected official, with the increasingly abrasive tone of the lead reporter in the scrum who is trying desparately to frame the story as pro-choice versus pro-life.
Perhaps no clearer example of this is when the MP admirably argues for an open non-partisan discussion with the purpose to inform Canadians, but the reporter retorts that Canadians can just use google if they want information and suggests the motion is a pretence for a hidden pro-life agenda.
While reporters should ask questions and hold politicians accountable, this reporter in repeatedly cutting the MP off, claiming he was avoiding the question, and using terms that only polarize debate, tried to turn a rare attempt at civil discourse into a headline designed only to sell newspapers. With this kind of reporting that attributes maleficent ulterior motives to calls for open discussions, it's no wonder why we have so few of them.
Politicians are often to blame when there's an abortion debate and not an abortion discussion, but in this case, where Mr.Woodworth could not have more clearly argued for a calm and orderly discussion on abortion, it was the media that sought to make it a debate.
Looking at the history of the abortion debate, when emotions are enflamed, no body wins, well except the media.
(At 3:58 in the video)
Lead Reporter: "If you want [Canadians] to be better informed they can google it, you must have a bigger goal than that."
Woodworth: "Well you can say that people will google things but I'm hoping parliamentary hearings where the evidence is open and able to be discussed and cross-examined upon, will be the best way-"
Lead Reporter: "-Okay....-I'm not sure why you're dancing around this, 'cause I know you're obviously pro-life right?"
Woodworth: "I am pro-life, I'm-"
Lead Reporter: "-Are you hoping this is part of your road for Canada to be more pro-life than it is?"
Woodworth: "I honestly don't mean to be dancing around it, what my goal is, what my election commitment, what my personal platform was is to promote a respective dialogue over such issues. So I don't intend to introduce my own views into it before the fact. I'm not going to stand up and say this is what I think should be done. What I want to do is have people look at the evidence and reach their own conclusions."