re-open abortion debate? you'll have to get past us first (and you won't)

As you may have noticed, I'm in a bit of a blogging lull. I'm just popping in to say: Oh no you don't. Oh no you won't.
The new chairman of a secretive Parliamentary caucus opposed to abortion is pledging to rekindle the abortion debate in Canada and bring "more value" to the lives of unborn children.

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he's not interested in reopening the divisive issue, Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge told The Canadian Press people need to be better educated about Canada's abortion stance, which he says puts the country in a "class of its own."

"Very few Canadians appreciate the fact that essentially until a child takes its first breath, it has less value than a kidney," says Mr. Bruinooge.

"In Canada you can't remove your kidney and put it on eBay and auction it off. That is illegal. Whereas you actually can end a beating heart of an unborn child the second before it's delivered. Most Canadians would agree that is truly a poor bioethical position for our country to be in."

Pro-choice advocates say Canadian doctors only perform such later-term procedures if there's a serious threat to the health of the mother or if it's virtually certain the baby wouldn't survive past birth.

As Canada marks 20 years since a Supreme Court decision struck down Criminal Code restrictions on abortion, some advocates are worried the Conservatives will reopen the debate. But they say they are ready to fight for a woman's right to choose once again if necessary.

At the party's convention recently in Winnipeg, Conservative delegates voted to resurrect a proposal that would create specific criminal charges that could be laid against a suspect who kills or injures a fetus during a crime against a pregnant mother. A bill that would have done that died on the order paper when the last federal election was called.

Critics argue such a law would reopen the abortion debate by recognizing fetal rights.

"I think the debate is ongoing," Mr. Bruinooge says. "We need to have a starting point of debating whether or not abortion should be legal right up until the moment of birth."

Mr. Bruinooge wouldn't say how many MPs are formally part of the caucus, but said there are supporters from every party. It's up to individual members to "present their personal philosophy on this issue," he says.

Joyce Arthur, co-ordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, says it's not surprising that the pro-life movement is feeling "energized lately." The majority of the Conservative caucus are "publicly anti-choice," she says, and many are lobbying intently against a woman's right to choose.

"It's something that the Conservative party is out of touch with because Canadians don't want to go back to the abortion debate," Ms. Arthur says. "People are happy with the status quo. It's working well."

Erin Leigh, acting executive director of Canadians for Choice, says the anti-abortion caucus has been around for years, trying to work behind the scenes to resurrect the abortion debate.

But she says the "silent majority" of Canadians are pro-choice and realize it's important for women to have a safe, accessible alternative to pregnancy.

"If a woman is pregnant and she doesn't want to be, she'll find ways to terminate that pregnancy, legally or illegally."

Lest pro-choice Canadians need reminding of what a slippery slope looks like (are you reading this, Margaret Wente?), go here.


allan said...

Memo to Rod Bruinooge:


impudent strumpet said...

Excuse me, pardon me, analogy police coming through:

In Canada you can't remove your kidney and put it on eBay and auction it off. That is illegal.

Perfectly true. However, it is not illegal to simply remove your own kidney. (Might get you institutionalized on the basis that you've harmed yourself, but if you can do it without bleeding to death or being rushed to emergency, the law doesn't care.) It's the selling on ebay part that's illegal. Similarly, it is not illegal to remove your fetus, but selling your aborted fetus (or your newborn child) on ebay would be illegal.)

laura k said...

it is not illegal to remove your fetus, but selling your aborted fetus (or your newborn child) on ebay would be illegal.)

Thank you! I knew something was bothering me about his weak argument. (Besides, you know, everything.) I was thinking, what does selling on eBay have to do with anything?

impudent strumpet said...

Also, mi cielito likes to point out the flaw in the "OMG beating heart!" argument. The heart is an involuntary muscle and not at all indicative of consciousness or humanity, all of which resides in the brain. The beating heart is just as indicative of humanity as growing hair - which, incidentally, we're totally allowed to cut off and sell on ebay.

laura k said...

Yes, that's a huge flaw, and one that should be obvious - but is lost on the general public, I think.

My mother likes to point out the deceit in their hugely enlarged pictures of fetuses. In reality some of those are no bigger than an earthworm or a jellyfish.

There's no logic or consistency to their arguments, because all that blather about the unborn is just a smokescreen for their real motives: controlling women and punishing women for having sex.

James Redekop said...

The heart is an involuntary muscle and not at all indicative of consciousness or humanity, all of which resides in the brain.

You could stick a human heart in a vat of saline solution, hook it up to a pacemaker, and have it beat -- at least for a little while. Big deal.

Skinny Dipper said...

If I remembered correctly, at the Conservative convention, the delegates supported language describing the fetus as an unborn child. This makes the fetus belonging to the state rather than the woman. I would hate to be a woman who drinks alcohol and smokes during a pregnancy. That woman could cause harm to an unborn child. A pregnant woman had better make sure she behaves properly as she would be carrying the state's unborn child.

Unfortunately, people who are against abortion want "unborn child" laws, not to protect the fetus from someone who may have the so-called "excited delerium" (whatever that is) thereby punching pregnant women in their stomachs. They want these laws essentially to criminalize women. The fetus belongs to the woman; the unborn child belongs to the state.

laura k said...

This post has links on the Conservative Party convention and what they approved re fetus fetishizing. It was the old "unborn crime victim" path. Not quite what you're saying, but on the way.

It would never hold up in court, of course, because a fetus is not a person under the law, period. But obviously they use this as a wedge - which is what many of the more sensible Conservative delegates feared.

laura k said...

I would hate to be a woman who drinks alcohol and smokes during a pregnancy.

I would hate to be a woman - pregnant or otherwise - in a society that wouldn't stand up for my rights.

Rather than say "I'd hate to be her," why don't we make sure she can enjoy her full rights as a person here in Canada?

JakeNCC said...

As you know I went to Catholic schools so I've seen and heard it all but the older I get the more I use common sense when hearing the Pro-Life arguments. For instance they make it seem like there's this huge epidemic of women aborting their children the day before they are to be born. Who would carry a baby for 7,8 or 9 months and then go through the emotional trauma of aborting it unless there were valid medical reasons? Can we not trust women and their doctors to make these decisions? Isn't the system working well here? I've come a long way from my Catholic roots but in the end its really simple and has always been simple...TRUST WOMEN! These decisions aren't made lightly.

laura k said...

You're exactly right: trust women.

Anyone who's ever known anyone who had to undergo the trauma of a late-term abortion knows 100% that women do not choose them unless they need to - and how important it is that they remain legal and safe. I've written about my friend's experience here.

Btw, you might want to consider changing that "pro life" expression to "anti choice," or at least "anti abortion rights". It's a more accurate description and avoids propaganda.

JakeNCC said...

yep youre right. I thought about that when I typed it. Propaganda works I guess.

laura k said...

The expression "pro-life" is one of the most successful pieces of propaganda ever. Even reasonably pro-choice people use it. A friend of this blog debated with me about my use of the word anti-choice, claiming I was not being fair.

"Pro-life" - which I won't use without quotes - is the biggest hoax. Second biggest is "liberal media".

Larry Gambone said...

Too bad the anti-abortion fanatics - to hell with "pro-life" - what in the name of Emma Goldman are we? - aren't more concerned with living, breathing babies such as those getting bombs dropped on them rather than match-head sized collections of cells.

Gordie Canuk said...

Harper must be fuming, although he's a member of an evangelical church...i'm sure he knows this is not something Canadians want to confront, not now and not in the future.

If he had a majority its something he could pursue in the 1st year of a mandate...but now, its political death for the Conservatives. I'm sure he'll do everything he can to distance himself.

allan said...

Dimitri Soudas, Harper spokesman:

"Throughout his political career, the prime minister has been clear on this issue. We will not introduce or support legislation on abortion."