Dr. Dawg

Abortion debate: let's not and say we did

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Would-be philosopher queen Margaret Somerville is at it again, advocating stealth-theology with her characteristic mixture of tendentious reasoning, bare assertion, and carefully filtered facts.

I don’t intend to spend a long time on this. Much of her argument for proceeding with MP Stephen Woodworth’s doomed Motion 312, coming up for debate and another vote in September, is purely semantic. The law, and its legislators, cannot determine scientifically whether a fetus is a “person,” or at what point such personhood springs into being. Law follows public opinion: it holds no metaphysical authority whatsoever. Neither does Somerville. Neither, for that matter, do I.

Somerville raises points I haven’t seen since the intense abortion debates of the 1970s: for example, that a fetus can legally inherit property and sue for damages. All true—except she fails to mention that live birth is mandatory for either to occur. As yet, fetuses, unlike children, do not have court-appointed guardians and lawyers—although unsuccessful attempts have been made.

But when she makes demonstrably untrue statements, Somerville really needs to be called to account. This is simply outrageous:

[C]ountries with which Canada commonly compares itself all have laws governing abortion, without prosecuting women for their conduct or doctors.

Let me here note that Somerville has been active on the “pro-life” side of things literally for decades. I simply cannot bring myself to believe that she made that false statement in blissful ignorance.

I’ll confine myself to US examples.

Has Somerville really not heard of the Bei Bei Shuai case—in which a desperate, suicidal women survived, but her fetus did not? She was charged with first-degree murder. She spent a year in jail. The case has still not been decided.

What about Christine Taylor, of Iowa? She fell down some stairs, miscarried, and was also charged with murder.

Then there’s Jessica Clyburn, of South Carolina. Bi-polar and epileptic, she tried to kill herself by jumping from a five-storey window. She survived, but miscarried. She was charged with murder, and pled out to manslaughter.

And we are supposed to imagine that Somerville has never heard of these and other well-publicized cases just south of the border? Mon oeil.

Motion 312, if it miraculously happened to pass, would be the thin edge of the wedge. Abortion laws, which are what the Woodworth motion is all about, routinely generate these Handmaid’s Tale-like excesses.

Can’t happen here? Level with us, Margo—would you really mind if it did?

[H/t, via JJ]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on August 24, 2012 9:43 AM.

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