Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Keep your Bill out of my uterus

Back in February of this year Conservative MP Ken Epps introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-484 or the 'Unborn Victims of Crime Act'. reported it and it was featured on CBC radio news program The Current, but unless my head has been stuck under the sand for the last two months (which is quite possible if you replace sand with school/Muse) the Bill hasn't garnered much attention until now. I wasn't even aware of its existence until I received an e-mail from Danielle Finney, communications director of the Provincial Status of Women Council decrying the bill (I'm not that special, she sent it to all the newspapers in town). 

Chances are you might not be familiar with the bill either, and in case you don't want to read the entire bill here's the Coles Notes version: if a pregnant woman is murdered, her killer would be charged with two counts of murder - one for the mother and one for the baby. 

At first glance the bill didn't sound that bad to me - the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S. is murder, and according to a study by Statistics Canada 21 per cent of abused women are abused while pregnant, and for 40 per cent of these women pregnancy is when the abuse began. Maybe this bill could help curb violence against women...

I can be really naive sometimes, I must admit. On further thought, I highly doubt that the repercussions of violence would make many abusers pause for thought right before they smack around a pregnant woman - otherwise murder and abuse would be a rarity. And secondly this law would make the murder of a fetus on par with the murder of a woman and currently Canadian law doesn't recognize a fetus as a person until it is born alive - hence why abortion is legal in Canada. 

I believe in easy access to abortion. I'm not sure I would ever undergo the procedure myself - which is strange considering I don't want children - but I have no business sticking my nose into the business of another woman's uterus. And that's exactly where Bill C-484 is planning on sticking it's nose. 

Epps says that's not the point of this bill and there is a clause that says the act does not apply to the termination of the pregnancy with the full consent of the mother. But the bill also says "It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being," which contradicts the law that allows for legal abortions in this country. The Bill itself wouldn't criminalize abortion, but it would give pro-life groups a foot in the door for the fight to re-criminalize abortion. This isn't just fearmongoring on my behalf - abortion is still such a hot topic issue 20 years after it became legal in Canada because there are such divided opinions on the subject, and both sides of the debate are very passionate. And let's face it, some pro-lifers are a little crazy

Plus, I don't trust the Conservative Party - I know some of the members aren't socially conservative, but I do not trust this party and their motives behind this bill. Just as the government does not belong in the bedrooms of consenting adults in this country, they certainly do not belong in their uteruses. 

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