Despite Harper’s campaign promise that the abortion debate would not be reopened yet again, one of the bare few line items on his agenda I actually agree with, it looks like those “values” politicians in his extreme-right party just can’t leave well enough alone. Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth is attempting to get Parliament to take up debate on the topic by calling into question the legal definition of “human being” — and he may just get away with it, because he’s exercising his power as a private member to make his proposal, leading to debate and a vote. All this without sullying the Harper government’s reputation, such as it is, for following through on all its campaign promises.
Woodworth wants Parliament to create a committee of politicians whose task it will be to review a law that says unborn children are not legally considered human beings. If parliamentarians agree to Woodworth’s request, a special committee would review Section 223 of the Criminal Code that says a child becomes a human being only after its complete birth and not while it is still a fetus.
Here’s the full text of the section:
223. (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not (a) it has breathed; (b) it has an independent circulation; or (c) the navel string is severed.
(2) A person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.
If approved, a committee of 12 MPs, with seven Tories, four New Democrats and one Liberal would review the law and submit a final report to the Commons determining whether “medical evidence exists to support or dismiss the idea that a child is a human being before the moment of complete birth, how that affects the law, and what the Commons might do about it,” Postmedia’s Sheila Dabu Nonato wrote when Woodworth first proposed his motion.
And yes, Harper really did promise no more abortion debate, so either he squelches this, or he’s allowing it (or encouraging it) to happen so he can pander to the extremists.
There is no good medical definition for when, exactly, a fetus becomes a viable human being. As it is procedural, the best any of us seem to be able to come up with is, when it can survive without being attached to its host. So, it follows that the entire purpose of this legislation is not to, say, prevent abortions at 8-and-a-half months, but rather to open the door to further redefinitions of when abortions can happen. Consider that in Canada, the vast majority of abortions happen between 0-12 weeks, a tiny percentage more between 12 and 24, and a sliver of a fraction of that happening after 24 weeks. Basically, just like in the States, in Canada it’s the mother’s choice for first trimester abortions, the mother’s-and-doctor’s choice in second trimester, and the doctor’s choice in third-trimester abortions.
And the majority of Canadians — 52% — support legal abortion in all circumstances. Only 27% are pro-life in all circumstances, but that’s just about enough of Canada to make a supermajority steamroller government, I guess!
You know all those times you folks see something shitty in the States and joke about how you’re coming to Canada? Well… we’re kind of in the process of reformatting our country to fit the neocon vision. Aside from universal health care, we’re taking all the shittiest bits of policy you’ve enacted over the past 50 years and enacting them wholesale now, unopposed, because of the broken way our government works by design, and the broken way our populace has succumbed to the propaganda and bread-and-circuses. I can’t help but feel like I need to leave before our country is fully Harperized. I hear Minnesota is fairly progressive. Bachmann notwithstanding.