April 22, 2023

Trudeau’s Defence of Abortion is a Fail—Again


Trudeau’s Defence of Abortion is a Fail—Again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s impromptu defence of abortion (a week or so ago, in a now viral video) was an embarrassment to thinking Canadians. I gave it a grade of F. For my reasons, see here and here. 

Earlier today (Saturday, April 22, 2023), Trudeau posted a short video (1.5 minutes) on his official Facebook page to clarify his abortion-choice position. 

The embarrassment continues. Another F. 

Let’s look at Trudeau’s clarification. Then let’s assess. 

Trudeau’s clarification 

Here is the crucial text from Trudeau’s new video: 

[O]ur government will always stand up and take action to protect access to reproductive health services…. We’re working with partners across the country to ensure better access to safe and inclusive reproductive health services. … With attacks on reproductive rights around the world, it’s really important that we not take things for granted; and we continue to stand up unequivocally. So let me be very clear. This government will never tell a woman what to do with her body. We are unequivocally and proudly pro-choice and always will be. 


There are two serious problems with Trudeau’s “clarification.” 

First, in the context of abortion, the issue is not merely about telling a woman what to do with her body. In the context of abortion there are two bodies, not just the woman’s body. 

The fact is that the unborn baby is not the woman’s body. It’s the child’s body. And abortion destroys the child’s body. And whenever someone chooses to destroy another human body, government has a legitimate interest. 

Second, to justify abortion-choice in terms of “reproductive health services” and “reproductive rights” is a deceptive abuse of language. 

Reproduction, i.e., the creation of a child (pre-natal human being/person) conceived via sex, occurs BEFORE abortion takes place. Reproductive freedom and rights are exercised BEFORE abortion takes place. 

The late Michael Bauman, Professor of Theology and Culture at Hillsdale College, observes: 

When pro-choicers have unforced sex, they are choosing. That is freedom of choice. When they decide to kill the child conceived during that sexual encounter, that is freedom from choice. They chose; now they want to be free from the consequences of that choice, even if someone has to die. 

In other words, abortion is not a reproductive health service. And justifying abortion in terms of reproductive rights and freedom is a ruse. 

Final grade: F. 


Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor and author of the book Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking about Abortion.

For additional thought 

Is abortion really ‘essential health care’? Social and economic problems require social and economic solutions, not the killing of children.


April 15, 2023

Justin Trudeau and abortion


Justin Trudeau and abortion

By Hendrik van der Breggen 

In a recent popular video Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while visiting the University of Manitoba, is seen discussing abortion with a young man who doesn’t support abortion. 

Pro-choicers praised Trudeau for “schooling” the young man, and pro-lifers were embarrassed with the young man’s lack of intellectual acumen. 

That young man, it seems to me, isn’t the sharpest pencil in the pencil case. But I think Trudeau’s response is dull, too. 

Let’s look at Trudeau’s justification of abortion-choice, and then let’s assess it. 

It seems to me that Trudeau’s position is weak and is (or should be) embarrassing to thinking Canadians. 

Trudeau’s defence of abortion 

The full exchange between Trudeau and the young man can be seen in the National Post. 

In a nutshell, Trudeau’s case for abortion being legal in Canada (right up to birth) hangs on two unqualified yes answers to two questions. 

(1) Do women have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies? 

(2) Should a woman who has been raped be allowed to have an abortion? 

Trudeau clearly thinks the answers should be yes and yes, full stop. 


I think Trudeau’s unqualified yes answers are mistaken. So here are my answers to Trudeau’s two questions, but with needed nuance. 

(1) Yes, generally speaking, women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies. But in the context of abortion, if we get clarity on the truth concerning abortion, then the answer to Trudeau’s question is no. 

Why? Because, even though women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies, the fact is that in the context of abortion there are two bodies. 

The unborn baby is not the woman’s body. It’s the child’s body. And abortion destroys the child’s body. 

By choosing and consenting to have sex (or IVF), women consent to getting pregnant (or risk getting pregnant), and thereby women choose what happens to their bodies (with the help of a male collaborator). But by choosing abortion, women choose what happens to their child’s body. 

In other words, Trudeau fails to consider the reality of the body of the pre-natal child. What happens in abortion is that the body of the pre-natal child is killed. 

Again, yes, women have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies, generally speaking, but abortion kills the body of another human being. Trudeau’s question—and his unqualified yes answer—neglects this. 

(2) Should a woman who has been raped be allowed to have an abortion? Trudeau thinks the answer is, again, an unqualified yes. 

My answer, however, is this: In the case of rape it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that abortion shouldn’t be allowed, if, again, we get clarity on the truth concerning abortion. 

Rape is wrong and terrible, definitely. No disagreement here from me. But perspective is needed, especially if we’re talking about whether all abortions should be legal (which is Trudeau’s view). 

It turns out that of the total abortion practice (in North America), abortions for rape account for a small percentage only. According to Fordham University ethicist Charles Camosy, “about 1 percent of all abortions take place in situations where the mother was raped.” (Charles C. Camosy, Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation [Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015], 20.) 

But this means that to justify the general abortion situation because of these few terrible cases is to commit the fallacy of hasty generalization. (The fallacy of hasty generalization occurs when one generalizes from unrepresentative or insufficient cases and/or does not take into account objections or counter-evidence; sometimes known as “jumping to a conclusion.”) 

Also, abortion does not undo the trauma of rape. The mother has been traumatized and victimized—she needs care. 

Moreover, abortion can be traumatic, too. It is the destruction of a human being, after all.

And abortion may be related to subsequent health problems. Abortion risks include breast cancer, premature birth (of subsequent children), and psychological problems. 

(About abortion risks, see the documentary Hush: A Liberating Conversation about Abortion and Women's Health, directed by Punam Kumar Gill [Mighty Motion Pictures, 2016]. See too Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles, and Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy's book Complications: Abortion's Impact on Women, 2nd edition [Toronto: DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2018].) 

In other words, by seeing abortion as a solution to rape, we might victimize a woman (a second time). 

Furthermore, to kill by abortion the human being conceived by the crime of rape is like killing an innocent bystander at the scene of a crime, a crime perpetrated by the bystander’s father. The father deserves (severe) punishment, not the child. 

Moreover, the child's voice should be heard. Significantly, there are people who have been conceived by rape and are now speaking out on behalf of those who cannot. 

Enter anti-abortion activist and attorney Rebecca Kiessling and company—people conceived via rape. Kiessling asks: “Have you ever considered how really insulting it is to say to someone, ‘I think your mother should have been able to abort you.’? It’s like saying, ‘If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.’” The child's voice should be considered—so we should listen to those persons who were conceived via rape. 

Rape justifies abortion? Perhaps. But perhaps not. 

Yes, rape is wrong, definitely, for sure, 100%. Yet there are also very good reasons for thinking rape shouldn't justify abortion. Those reasons should be considered, not ignored. 

Of course, Canadians of goodwill might disagree about abortion in the case of rape, even after considering the above reasons. Nevertheless, one thing is certain and, I believe, can be agreed to by all Canadians: It is certain that rape doesn't justify the general practice of abortion—not by a long shot. 

Again, of the total abortion practice (in North America), abortions for rape account for a small percentage only. Again, as Camosy points out, rape accounts for about 1 percent of all abortions. To appeal to the tiny percentage of hard cases to justify the remaining 99 percent is a mistake.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not “school” the young man who isn’t on board with Trudeau’s abortion program. From the point of view of careful reasoning and evidence, Trudeau’s justification of abortion-choice is weak—and should be an embarrassment to thinking Canadians.

P.S. I week or so later, Justin Trudeau responded to the above video interaction by offering yet another defence of abortion. See my assessment here.


Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor (formerly at Providence University College, Manitoba) and author of the book Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking about Abortion. 


Suggested readings 


NOTE TO CRITICS: Please take a look at least a few of my previous articles on abortion (see archives) before offering a comment or criticism. Thanks. My book may be of interest, too.

January 25, 2023

APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity — NEW BOOK!!!

 APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity — NEW BOOK!!!

By Hendrik van der Breggen

APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity is now available for purchase at Amazon.ca Amazon.com , Barnes & Noble, Regent College Bookstore, and Hull's Family Bookstores! 

In this collection of newspaper/blog columns (also titled APOLOGIA) a retired philosophy professor (a.k.a. Hendrik van der Breggen) presents important evidences and philosophical arguments related to the major truths of Christianity. The columns (chapters) are short, readable, and thoughtful—now complete with extensive explanatory notes and guides for further investigation. 


Michael Zwaagstra, Think Again – A serious defence of the Christian faith, The Carillon, March 1, 2023.



Jordan Ross, Philosopher’s book compiles decade of newspaper columns, The Carillon, March 4, 2023 (article).

Drew Eldridge, A Defence of Mere Christianity - Interview with Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen, Christian Voices, May 5, 2023 (YouTube, audio, 51 minutes).



“This collection of newspaper columns by Hendrik van der Breggen is unlike most other books you will read. The sheer number of hot button issues addressed, alone, makes the book a unique resource for people in need of thoughtful, yet concise, help when faced with the multitude of cultural questions currently swirling around.

Not everyone is able to boil complex issues down to their essential elements and provide thoughtful assessment and direction all in two or three pages. Doing that requires deep understanding of the issues being addressed. Hendrik van der Breggen brings a life-time of teaching philosophy and apologetics to this task and it shows.

These columns include intriguing questions, interactive dialogues, and even humorous anecdotes as issue after issue is concisely dissected and explained. In the process, readers will encounter a fresh and well-reasoned defense of the central teachings Christians have always believed along with a number of the philosophical foundations upon which they rest.

For those wanting to raise the level of precision and care in their thinking, this book is packed full of concise definitions, often followed by fuller descriptions, of important terms and concepts such as philosophy, apologetics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, scientism, truth and the various theories of it, many logical fallacies, and others. The author has also provided assistance for those looking to dig deeper by drawing upon a large number of well-respected sources which are included under the ‘further reading’ sections. This book will be an invaluable resource for many.” 

  • Paul Chamberlain, PhD, Professor of Ethics and Leadership, Director of Institute for Christian Apologetics, Trinity Western University, author of Why People Don’t Believe: Confronting Seven Challenges to Christian Faith (Baker Books, 2011) 


“For anyone looking for a comprehensive, yet easy-to-read defense of the Christian faith, I highly recommend this book. Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen has helpfully compiled some of his best newspaper columns from over the years and he also added supporting references and explanatory notes. The end product is a book that is weighty in substance, sharp in argumentation, and winsome in tone. This book is a model of what Christian apologetics should look like.” 

  • Michael Zwaagstra, MEd, MA, high school teacher, city councillor, newspaper columnist, author of A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning (John Catt Educational, 2020) 


“I had the pleasure of reading many of these columns in their original form: as op-ed pieces in a local newspaper. And it is a great privilege to read them again, expanded, noted, and gathered together in one place. Dr. van der Breggen is the rare scholar who strives to express complex ideas simply, and to lead readers to reflect on often unintended, and always unhappy, but logically inevitable conclusions of popular positions in religious and moral debate today. This is an accessible, broad, and lively book. It deserves a readership as large as it is!” 

  • Rev’d Tim Perry, PhD, Professor of Theology, Providence Theological Seminary, editor of The Theology of Benedict XVI: A Protestant Appreciation (Lexham Press, 2019) 


“Hendrik van der Breggen’s APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity provides readers with a comprehensive case for what C. S. Lewis famously termed ‘mere Christianity.’ Like Lewis, Hendrik has a gift for making philosophical arguments accessible, without sacrificing rigor. Those new to exploring the credentials of Christianity cannot do better than this book and those of us familiar with Christian apologetics will appreciate the wealth of suggestions provided for further study. This is a book that deserves a wide readership both within and outside Christian faith.” 

  • Robert A. Larmer, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Philosophy Department Chair, University of New Brunswick, author of The Legitimacy of Miracle (Lexington Books, 2014) 


“Ideas have consequences. What is believed matters. Thus asserts Hendrik van der Breggen in APOLOGIA: The Columns: A Defence of Mere Christianity. With highly relevant, poignant stories, fastidious attention to detail, and copious (yet not overwhelming) references, including immeasurably helpful ‘for further study’ sections at the end of each chapter, van der Breggen effectively engages (with enviable wisdom and transparent conviction) the most important evidences and philosophical arguments related to the major truths of Christianity. APOLOGIA: The Columns provides expert guidance for both the uninitiated and seasoned individuals alike concerning critical thinking, logical principles of discourse, and so-called ‘mere Christianity.’ Would that every author provided as sure footing as Hendrik van der Breggen does in this text!” 

  • Dustin Burlet, PhD, Instructor of Bible, Millar College of the Bible, author of Judgment and Salvation: A Rhetorical-Critical Reading of Noah's Flood in Genesis (Pickwick Publications, 2022) 


“This book is the distillation of decades of careful Christian thinking on a wide range of important topics, from skepticism to tolerance to ethics. Dr. van der Breggen models the passion for truth and posture of humble confidence he recommends to his readers. No question or line of argument is off-limits. Whatever their views, readers will find themselves challenged to think, and think again.” 

  • Kevin N. Flatt, PhD, Professor of History, Associate Dean of Humanities, Redeemer University, author of After Evangelicalism: The Sixties and the United Church of Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014) 

December 04, 2022

Canada’s government should help Canadians live, not help kill them


Canada’s government should help Canadians live, not help kill them

To offer a “choice” between suffering and death which neglects the option of actual assistance in living is evil


By Hendrik van der Breggen

December 4, 2022


“Medically assisted deaths could save millions in health care spending”—so stated the headline of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News on January 23, 2017, six months after Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying/ MAID (a euphemism for physicians killing patients). 

If that’s a justification of MAID (and for some it is), it’s sheer wickedness. 

First, some perspective is in order. Here is the MAID casualty list for Canada thus far: 

  • 2016 – 1,018
  • 2017 – 2,838
  • 2018 – 4,480
  • 2019 – 5,661
  • 2020 – 7,603
  • 2021 – 10,064
  • 2022 – Number is yet to be calculated, but the trend is dark.

The above numbers are from the Canadian government document “Third annual report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada 2021.”

I should note that I wonder about the accuracy of this report. I suspect the numbers may be higher. Why? Because, according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: “When completing the death certificate physicians: a. must list the illness, disease, or disability leading to the request for MAID as the cause of death; and b. must not make any reference to MAID or the drugs administered on the death certificate.”

This erodes trust in at least some (a lot?) of Canada’s doctors.

But trust in Canada’s federal government (lead by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is also eroding.

Canada’s federal government supports MAID and, in recent years, has been making MAID accessible to more and more people by loosening restrictions. At first MAID was only supposed to end the suffering of the terminally ill. But now reasonably foreseeable death is no longer a requirement.

In fact, in March 2022 restrictions were broadened so people with disabilities or people struggling with pain could access MAID, even if not close to death. And in March 2023 the procedure will be available to the mentally ill. And now there is discussion about offering MAID to “mature minors.”

This brings me to my main point, which is hugely significant: Canada’s federal government supports the “choice” for medically-assisted suicide before ensuring Canadians actually have real options.

It turns out that the vast majority of Canadians don’t have access to good palliative care (palliative care is care that optimizes quality of life and mitigates suffering). Also, Canadian veterans (at least six so far) have been offered MAID to deal with their suffering instead of actually helping them (one veteran was offered MAID as an alternative to a wheel chair ramp/elevator). And there has been a case in which a disabled man successfully began the application process for MAID because he had trouble paying his bills and was afraid of becoming homeless.

This last case caught the attention of local news and, happily, a kind stranger set up a GoFundMe page for the disabled man and he subsequently changed his mind about accessing MAID (at least for now).

The GoFundMe case is heart-warming—and revealing. It sheds much-needed light onto Canada’s dark and dismal dismissal of life.

Surely it is an evil to offer a “choice” between suffering and death which neglects the option of actual assistance in living.

My suggested solution: Instead of justifying or encouraging suicide in terms of saving health care dollars, Canadians should demand their government cut frivolous spending—and redirect it to people who actually need it to live.

Think of the actual help that could be given to people if Canada’s government stopped squandering taxpayers’ dollars on things like the following: 

  • our prime minister’s C$1.6 million family trip to India (complete with personal celebrity chef)
  • our federal government’s $8.1 million temporary hockey rink in front of Ottawa’s parliament buildings (on which only relatively few skated)
  • our prime minister’s $610 million waste of calling a not-needed federal election during a pandemic
  • government officials flying across the ocean to climate conferences in fuel-guzzling jets
  • a government official staying in a $6,000 per night hotel for five nights
  • funding a boat-sized rubber duck
  • etc., etc.

And maybe Canada should say yes to some pipelines that would generate huge revenues and increase tax-dollar funding (billions?) for, say, hospitals, ICUs, palliative care, hospices, mental health services, and life-enhancing help for people with disabilities.


Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada.