Choice Joyce: February 2008

Choice Joyce

Essays from a pro-choice feminist liberal skeptic infidel activist (and animal lover)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fetal Foot-in-the-backdoor

A slippery slope law that is a foot-in-the-door to restrict or re-criminalize abortion is scheduled for a Parliamentary vote in Canada on March 5 - the "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" (Bill C-484). If it passes - and there's a chance it might! - it will be the first ever law in Canada that recognizes fetuses as persons, by making them a separate homicide victim when a pregnant woman is murdered.

Bill C-484 conflicts directly with:

• our federal Criminal Code, which says a fetus does not become a person until it's born alive
• our Constitution, which gives full rights and equality to women
• our Supreme Court case law, which says that a woman and her fetus are one person under the law and all rights accrue to the woman

Bill C-484 was written and introduced by an anti-choice Member of Parliament, and anti-abortion goups are its main promoters. They're trying to be clever by excluding legal abortion from prosecution, as well as "acts or omissions" by the pregnant woman. But these exclusions have not stopped arrests of pregnant women in some U.S. states under similar laws for drug abuse. Simply by creating personhood for fetuses, this bill compromises the rights of ALL pregnant women, including those with wanted pregnancies.

Let's help pregnant women instead! The tragic murder of a pregnant woman by her male partners is domestic violence. It is a crime against HER. She is the victim, and the act should be punished as an attack on HER bodily integrity. But this bill doesn't protect pregnant women at all - it only creates personhood for fetuses. If we want to protect fetuses, the best solution is protect their sole caretakers, pregnant women. Let's give pregnant women the supports and resources they need for good pregnancy outcomes, including protection from domestic violence.

Criminal justice can also be achieved in these tragic cases in better ways. Prosecutors can recommend more serious charges and judges may impose harsher penalties. In fact, more serious penalties are already mandated under the Criminal Code's hate crime law, which would cover attacks against women because they are pregnant. These measures would provide justice, while avoiding the abortion controversy and protecting the rights of all pregnant women. There is simply no need for Bill C-484, except as an anti-abortion measure to smuggle fetal rights through the backdoor.

Please sign a petition opposing Bill C-484!

Here are 14 "Talking Points" against Bill C-484.

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