You gotta hand it to the Conservative Freak Parade, they just don’t stop, even when they lose. After all it was twenty years ago this year that the abortion law in Canada was struck down and women’s inherent right to control their bodies was accepted as a legal principle.
But the people who would throw you into jail for masturbating into your sock are back. And they’ve found a new way to take away the rights of women: The Unborn Victims of Crime Act. It’s been brought forward as a private members bill by Edmonton Conservative MP Ken Epp. It receives a second debate on February 29 and then is scheduled for a vote on March 4.
It sounds innocuous enough – if someone, during the process of committing an offense, harms the fetus of a pregnant woman, including causing a miscarriage or stillbirth, they would receive extra punishment. Now, don’t we all think that people who hurt or kill pregnant women are particularly odious?
Except that this isn’t about protecting the pregnant woman – it’s about the fetus. In fact, it is about granting the fetus personhood, separate from the woman carrying it. But if the fetus is a person and the woman is a person, then there’s going to be some sticky legal situations to work out – like, hmmm, I don’t know… abortion, perhaps?
In many of the 37 states where there is similar legislation to that mooted by Mr. Epp, women have suffered the nasty end of the legal stick. Even in those states where a pregnant woman in question is specifically, legally exempt this is the case. In Pennsylvania, Missouri, California and Texas, women are exempt and yet pregnant drug users have been charged with murder and assault against their fetuses. The charges have been ruled out of order – but for how long?
In South Carolina only one man has been busted for killing a pregnant woman, however 100 pregnant drug users have been charged under the fetus protection legislation. There isn’t a single drug rehab clinic in the state. And South Carolina anti-choice legislators have said that they plan to use the legislation to challenge Roe v Wade at the Supreme Court. (Roe v Wade was the Supreme Court decision back in the 70s that won the right to abortion in the United States.)
Women have even been charged and jailed for murder after refusing a caesarian section an suffering stillbirth, or just from suffering a stillbirth.
Let’s be honest – this is the thin edge of the anti-choice wedge to re-criminalize abortion. It’s about shifting the discourse towards talking about fetuses as children with rights, etc. It’s about reducing women to baby-carrying vessels.
Don’t think it’s about abortion? Well, according to the Campaign Life Coalition, “Ken Epp is not a member of CLC, although we are very supportive of his political career during which he has been a stalwart supporter of the pro-life cause.” Campaign Life are also very big supporters of Epps bill.
At the moment the NDP and the BQ will whip their members to vote against the bill. However, the Liberals have said that it will be a free vote for their caucus and they have their fair share of anti-choice types. Go to Birth Pangs and fill out their automatic form to Liberal Leader Stephane Dion: tell him to make sure that the Liberals vote against this backdoor attack on women.
And, if you want to know more, check out these talking points from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.