The President of the CCCB is Deeply Troubled by the Government's Approval for Clinical Trials of the Abortion Pill RU-486

Tuesday, July 11 2000

The Honourable Allan Rock
Minister of Health
Brooke Claxton Building
Postal Locator 0916A
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0K9

Re: The Abortion Pill RU-486

Dear Mr. Rock:

On behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I would like to say how deeply troubled we are that Health Canada has granted approval for clinical trials of the abortion pill RU-486.

We have consistently and strongly opposed the introduction of RU-486 into Canada because this pill destroys the unborn child and has serious health risks for women.

The media reports indicate that the year-long trials expect to have at least 1,000 Canadian women take the drug. Given the scientific consensus that the unborn child is a genetically separate entity, a unique human being from the time of conception, these clinical trials will result in the destruction of 1000 human beings. How can Health Canada authorize clinical trials knowing that human life will be destroyed in the process! Surely, the first rule of medical research must be to respect the integrity and dignity of human life.

While the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the abortion law in 1988 because of procedural flaws, it also clearly recognized that the state has an interest in protecting the unborn child that relates to a pressing and substantial concern in a free and democratic society. In two recent cases the Court, while not feeling it had the authority to protect the unborn child in the circumstances of these cases, noted that the legislature has the power to do so. It is deeply disappointing that the only Governmental response to date is to approve trials for a deadly drug.

In our pluralistic society, there are millions of Canadians who oppose abortion for diverse reasons. For some, it is a question of the human rights of the weakest among us; for others it is based on scientific reasons; others see it as violence against women; and still others see it as a simplistic solution to the injustices, poverty and violence still suffered by women. In addition to all of those important reasons, as people of faith we believe that life is a gift beyond measure, the most precious gift that has been given to us by God in whose image we have been created. It is our duty to love life, respect it and protect it from its very fragile beginnings in the womb to its natural end.

By approving the clinical trials of RU-486, the Government is taking an active role in promoting abortion and ignoring its duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves. This is offensive to the deeply held beliefs and religious sensibilities of people from across the county. Surely, the better response to unexpected or difficult pregnancies is to create a society that is ever more hospitable to life, which truly values children, respects women and supports those who are in need. Clinical trials of a lethal drug solve nothing.


Most Reverend Gerald Wiesner, OMI
Bishop of Prince George
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops