Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The thin grey line

TODAY is when bill C-484, the piece of dishonest, incremental legislation intended to criminalize abortion comes before the House of Commons for a vote on second reading and referral to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

The anti-choice crowd can't seem to get their act together. On one hand they are attempting to keep the camouflage over the bunker while on the other hand they can't help but wet themselves with excitement that the real intended purpose of this legislation is to criminalize abortion. Need some evidence? Take a wander over to see what JJ and Matttbastard found.

In a casual conversation with a friend, who happens to be a criminal lawyer, this morning I discovered precisely what this piece of socio/political gradualism would do and why it can have no other purpose than to directly assault the right of a woman to make her own choices.

Ken Epp and his co-sponsor, former used-car salesman Dave Van Kesteren, can quack all they like about how this is not about abortion. I've called bullshit in the past and I'm calling it again. No matter how they try to frame the bill, there is one aspect of it which is intended to hobble the Supreme Court of Canada.

While Epp might be speaking truthfully when he suggests that this amendment would not be used to prosecute women or doctors in the case of an abortion, (although I don't for a minute believe that's the case), he has neatly avoided discussing the one thing that would plant a ticking bomb in Canadian law.

A definition.

The long title of the bill, according to my lawyer friend, contains the time bomb. (emphasis mine)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence)
There's the bomb.

Epp and his gang of anti-choice crusaders regularly refer to the bill by its short title, Unborn Victims of Crime Act, quietly sidestepping the clarity of intent in the long title. If it wasn't so underhanded it would be ingenious.

If this bill moves out the House and goes to committee the amendment will require more than just the rewording of section 238 of the Criminal Code. It will require a written definition of an unborn child.

The current offence specifies "in the act of birth".

It is the definition this crowd is attempting to insert into the Criminal Code. By doing so, if this bill goes anywhere other than the garbage bin, they will have provided a counter argument to the Supreme Court decision in Tremblay v. Daigle in which the court specified that a fetus has no status as a "person" under the common law.*

Fern Hill brings out an article from December 2007 in which the incrementalism of bill C-484 is celebrated.
In the United States, incrementalist legislation – informed consent, waiting periods, defunding, clinic hygiene laws, etc. – have successfully reduced the number of abortions.
Once again, I'm calling bullshit. The author has no way of knowing that and cannot possibly substantiate it. Better education and freely accessible contraceptives are distinct factors which reduce the number of abortions but were they were never mentioned.

What is also omitted is that the only abortions the author of that dishonest claim can monitor are those which are carried out in a system reporting statistics. In places where safe, legal abortions are not accessible, abortions still occur, but in much more dangerous circumstances and in a statistical void.

You still have time to take action. Stop this bill dead in its dishonest tracks.

* I had meant to put this following note in at the time of the original post:

It should be noted when the anti-choice crowd whines about the Supreme Court decision and the rights of poor Jean-Guy Tremblay being trampled they conveniently leave out he fact that this miscreant has been convicted of no less that 14 physical attacks on women, most of whom were his former girlfriends.

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