The Braintrust @ the Ottawa Citizen (h/t Fern Hill @ BnR).
Miss Vicky nails it in a diplomatic, sympathetic-yet-uncompromising fashion:
My heart breaks for families of murdered pregnant women – people like Mary Talbot, who wrote a piece in the Citizen today. They are dealing with a profound loss, and to them the loss is of two people, to be sure – their daughter or wife or sister, and the potential addition to the family that she was carrying. Believe me, I know the grief of the loss of potential, of a life-not-yet-lived, and all the dreams and hopes and aspirations and possibilities that accompany a pregnancy. But the thing about law-making, especially when it comes to justice issues, is that we have to strip away the emotion from issues in order to write legislation that makes sense for society as a whole. There is little to be gained from charging a criminal with a separate count of murder or assault for the loss of a fetus, except perhaps the satisfaction of a need for vengeance for those who are left behind. And while I can imagine the desire for vengeance is overwhelming in these situations, that isn’t what our justice system is about. And it certainly doesn’t bring back the loved one and the potential loved one in question.
Grief, while powerful and painful and often all-consuming, should not be driving legislation.
Mary Talbot may (may) honestly believe that Bill C-484 has nothing to do with abortion, but that claim is specious. As CC observed, the Unborn Victims of Crime bill doesn’t make any legal sense–unless one is trying to further enshrine the words “unborn” and “child” in Canadian law, putting a woman’s right to choose–and, if the effect that similar laws in the US have had are any indication, her bodily integrity and physical liberty–in jeopardy.
The problems in this Bill are two-fold: they seek to give status to the foetus as a separate entity with rights equal to human beings, and it seeks to re-define the foetus as a child. The wording of the Bill is geared to both. Let’s look at the problems with this Bill.
BILL C-484 – An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence) 1. This Act may be cited as the Unborn Victims of Crime Act.
The word “child” would re-define a foetus and a zygote as a human being. Similarly, “unborn victims” would give them a status independent from the woman. If the Bill was truly concerned only with protecting the woman from an involuntary miscarriage while being the victim of a crime, wording of this Bill could easily be changed to reflect an additional crime against the woman, that of causing an unwanted miscarriage. Wording here is clearly to establish the rights of a foestus and zygote as independent from a pregnant woman. That Bill continues to use such wording throughout, leaving no doubt that such a Bill will indeed view the foetus as a separate human being, and a child, at that.
3. The Act is amended by adding the following after section 238: Causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence 238.1
(1) Every person who, directly or indirectly, causes the death of a child during birth or at any stage of development before birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother of the child, who the person knows or ought to know is pregnant,
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10 years if the person
(i) means to cause the child’s death, or (ii) means to cause injury to the child or mother that the person knows is likely to cause the child’s death, and is reckless as to whether death ensues or not;
Just in case you still have doubts that the intent of this Bill is to declare a foetus/zygote a human being and give it rights as such:
Exclusion of defence
(5) It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being.
And in case you still don’t get it:
(6) An offence referred to in this section committed against a child is not included in any offence committed against the mother of the child.
It will be difficult to argue later that a “child” is a child in the case of crimes committed against a woman, but is not a child any other time. If the foetus is given independent rights in this case, it will be hard to argue it has none any other time.
[Bill C-484] is an unnecessary Bill since the extra charge of causing an unwanted abortion already exists in our laws. It is a dangerous Bill because it re-defines a foetus/zygote as a child and gives it independent rights. This will absolutely lay the groundwork for arguing to re-open the abortion issue.
Look, “what about my unborn granddaughter” is not an argument; it’s a deliberately manipulative fallacy that is being used (whether deliberately or otherwise) as part of a coordinated effort to incrementally chip away at reproductive liberty in Canada.
Once again: “Grief, while powerful and painful and often all-consuming, should not be driving legislation.”
The Ottawa Citizen has essentially given Mary Talbot an unchallenged forum to wack Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada over the head with grief just because Talbot has suffered a terrible loss. So, a challenge to the Citizen (and/or the folks in Winnipeg): allow Joyce the opportunity to respond to Talbot’s all-too-personal attack; let facts collide head on with emotion.
The women of Canada–and Joyce Arthur–deserve nothing less.