Dr. Dawg

Canada: human rights on the table

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This week, Parliamentarians will be discussing whether pregnant Canadian women should be nationalized.

Motion 312, introduced by Conservative MP and fetus-fetishist Stephen Woodworth with the active connivance of the PMO, has been given a lot of mocking names, my favourite being the “Men Who Stare At Zygotes” Motion. Mockery is good, and often an effective political tactic: the dreadful individuals running our country at the moment hate to be laughed at.

But this isn’t really very funny. In a word, it’s evil.

Men like Woodworth and his oh-so-holy colleagues in the Conservative (and Liberal)* caucuses want to hurt women. By trying to have fetuses recognized as “persons” under the law, they are hoping to make women second-class citizens. I, for one, refuse to believe that fetuses are their primary consideration: policing uppity women is their main aim.

It’s not about “unborn children”: it’s all about women who don’t know their God-given place.

How to force women back into their traditional roles? Endow something inside them with full legal rights. Treat them as vessels. Deny them agency. Make them state property. Punish them if they assert autonomy.

Folks need to realize that the consequences of this “fetal rights” nonsense go well beyond the abortion issue. Women who might be pregnant could be incarcerated if they are seen in a bar. Failure to eat a proper diet could result in arrest, or in the seizure of the baby when born.

Think I’m overstating? Guess again. Our neighbour to the south, much loved and much-emulated by the Harperians, is somewhat ahead of us in this respect:

• In California, a young woman was brought up on fetal neglect charges under a law that, ironically, was meant to force negligent fathers to pay child support. Her offenses included failing to heed a doctor’s advice (a doctor who had failed to follow up on her treatment), not getting to the hospital with due haste, and having sex with her husband.

The husband, a batterer whose brutal outbursts had summoned the police to their apartment more than a dozen times in one year alone, was not charged—or even investigated.

• In Iowa, the state took a woman’s baby away at birth even though no real harm to the infant was evident—because she had, among other alleged offenses, “paid no attention to the nutritional value of the food she ate during her pregnancy,” as an AP story later characterized the Juvenile Court testimony. “[S]he simply picked the foods that tasted good to her.”

• In Wyoming, a woman was charged with felony child abuse for allegedly drinking while pregnant. A battered wife, she had been arrested on this charge after she sought police protection from her abusive husband.

• In Illinois, a woman was summoned to court after her husband accused her of damaging their daughter’s intestine in an auto accident during her pregnancy. She wasn’t even the driver.

• In Wisconsin, a sixteen-year-old pregnant girl was confined in a secure detention facility because of her alleged tendencies “to be on the run” and “to lack motivation” to seek prenatal care.

These anecdotes were published by Susan Faludi in 1991—more than two decades ago. Things are far, far worse now. We read recently about atrocities like these. This is gender fascism in full spate.

It can happen here—if we let it.

M-312 is just an incremental step to re-criminalizing abortion in Canada. But, as noted, it’s not only that. Any eventual legislation granting fetal “rights” will reduce women of child-bearing age to state property, whether they are seeking abortion or not.

Make no mistake: we have here a classic zero-sum situation. “Rights” accorded to fetuses mean rights lost by women. And that’s precisely the aim of those who have ensured that this disgusting debate would be held in Parliament.

How dare our legislators put human rights up for grabs in 2012? Why not ask them?

Whatever they reply, stand up and say no. Not here. Not now. Not ever.

*As an aside, it’s interesting how the “grassroots” anti-choicers published by this Liberal almost all managed to misspell Henry Morgentaler’s name in exactly the same way.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on April 22, 2012 5:05 PM.

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