Choice Joyce: Fetal Foot-in-the-backdoor

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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  • At 5:18 PM, Blogger accidental altruist said…


    Edmonton, AB

    Saturday, May 3, 2008
    12:00pm - 2:00pm

    Gazebo Park (beside the Farmers' Market)
    104 St & 83 Ave

    Come out and rally against Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill!

    Co-hosted by University of Alberta Women's Centre Collective and CJSR's Adamant Eve.

    There will be food, music, button-making, information for further action, and speakers!

    Linda Duncan
    Dr. Rebecca Stringer
    Medical Students For Choice


    Ottawa, ON

    Saturday May 3rd 2008
    12:00pm - 3:00pm

    Human Rights Monument
    Elgin Street at Lisgar Street


    Toronto, ON

    Saturday, May 3, 2008
    12:00pm - 3:00pm


    All are welcome!
    Come out and show your solidarity.

    Contact to inform the organizers.

  • At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The entire concept of abortion indicates that a person becomes a human being upon, as you said, being born alive. It is that concept that I challenge for philosophical reasons. By definition, then, a person's right to personhood becomes based on WHERE he is, whether inside or outside of the womb, not WHAT he is. If it were based on WHAT he is, then it would have to come to the conclusion that a fetus is a human being because it has its own separate set of DNA while still inside the mother, even as a single-celled fertilized egg, it still has its own set of DNA, which is unique from the mother. Therefore, the fact that such a child is in fact genetically proven to be a separate entity, then it must have the same rights to life as any other Canadian under law.

  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger Chantal said…

    These days some woman are being murdered because they choose to continue their pregnancy which angers their partner for whatever reason. Some were killed and stabbed in the stomach to ensure that the child dies too. This is why the bill was written. The woman are a victim of crime because they choose NOT to have an abortion. For some, if they had an abortion their partner may not have killed them. The pregnancy angered them. Is this what the pro-choice mouvement wants? Doesn't sound like choice. Have an abortion or I'll kill you. I had no problems with the bill C-484. After seeing the reasoning, I agreed with it.

  • At 1:21 PM, Blogger Sara said…

    "These days some woman are being murdered because they choose to continue their pregnancy which angers their partner for whatever reason."

    Well, exactly. Women are murdered. That's already a crime. The foetus would die whether she was stabbed in the uterus or not.

    Pro-choice means in agreement with women having the right to choose: to terminate a pregnancy, or to continue a pregnancy. Of course people who identify as pro-choice don't believe women should be murdered for making a certain choice. That would directly contradict the label.

    Being opposed to a bill which introduces circumstantial personhood for foetuses is not being opposed to preventing the murder of pregnant women.

    To the OP (or another Canadian), would it be gross for me as a British person to sign this petition? As a non-Canadian it's not really my business. :)

  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger Sara said…

    Pro-choicers have done a damn good job of convincing people that pregnancy is like a "trial run" period for TRUE parenthood. They have somewhat successfully persuaded others that when you are pregnant it is not REALLY with human or unborn baby... they have made being pregnant into an "idea" of which women should think and ponder whether or not they want to be mommies. As their babies are growing and developing in their wombs they are thinking about whether this whole "motherhood and birth" thing is for them. If they decide "no", then they use their "baby insurance" so to speak and their "private choice" and terminate their "idea" of being a mommy at this time. Because to Pro-choicers it's not really a baby until it's decided upon to be "wanted" by the mommy. Joyce says: "A fetus becomes a human being WHEN the woman carrying it decides it does." Until that point... the pregnancy is really just a vague, formless and lifeless theoretical idea of sorts. (Of course, that's BS- it is completely formed and real- from the beating heart, to little fingers and toes, to the yawns and little kicking legs.)

  • At 4:07 AM, Blogger Chantal said…

    Another woman was recently killed because she CHOOSE to NOT have an abortion. (Sorry, I don´t have the link at the moment.)

    The police are stating that her REFUSAL to an abortion was the motive to kill her.

    How are pro'choicers helping woman who CHOOSE to keep their pregnancy?

    Since this woman WANT to have the child, the fetus has thus been granted personhood according to Joyce´s logic.

    What of the woman who is stabbed in the uterus to kill the baby and the mother lives. Does her choice to continue the pregnancy not count since the fetus is worthless and unimportant?

    Of course, if she would have had an abortion with such a threat looming, she was not coerced into her decision! She was exercising her right and doing what´s best for her. Abortion would have been the reasonable choice, the best choice in the situation.. It would have saved her life!

    I´ve learned that love is unreasonable....

  • At 1:53 PM, Blogger Your Friend, B said…

    Let me first say, I am neither pro-life or pro-choice. I am a 20yo woman and do not believe I am, and hope I never will be, in the position to judge a girl/woman's choice as to whether she will continue her pregnancy. I believe that right is only granted if you have been in the position of needing to decide yourself.

    However, I would like to point out something I find incredibly funny in the midst of such a serious topic:

    Why do you choose to call those against abortion "anti-choice," instead of the common "pro-life"? I am sure you would be highly offended if someone from the opposite side of the fence called you "anti-life"...

    And, please, don't try and make it seem as though the "anti-choice" groups are the only ones to use emotional arguments in support of their plight. (see "Exposing Crisis Centres in BC," which can be found at this link:

    And "The Mage" - I quite like your scientific deconstruction of the separation of mother and child.

  • At 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank-you, "Your Friend, Bee". The scientific evidence all seems to dictate at the very least that the foetus is of the human species. One of the worst (and most common) arguments I've heard (Joyce has used it) is that a foetus does not "look like a baby", and therefore is not human.

    Well, a foetus does not look like a baby, and a baby does not look like a child, and a child does not look like an adolescent, and so forth.

    Looking at the stage of development cannot determine humanity, because if it can, than there's no reason to include the elderly or the disabled (or anyone) in our definition. Unless the pro-choice movement is willing to ignore DNA evidence, it becomes impossible to conclude scientifically that the foetus is not human.

    So the question, then, is not "Is the foetus human?" The question is "Does a life have value inherently or does life have value only by what it does?"


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