Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Joyce hits one outta the park

I'd about given up on the National Post due to its serial publication of screeds by some of the looniest denizens of Wingnuttia recently. However, yesterday the NP took a few steps in the journey towards redemption by publishing an article by Joyce Arthur (of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada). In response to SUZANNE's deceptive "Not-about-abortion-nothing-to-see-here-move-along" article about Bill C-484 that ran in the NatPo a couple of weeks ago, Joyce says, in part:
Giving separate legal status to a fetus is an unnecessary approach that could endanger not only abortion rights, but the rights of all pregnant women. Fetal homicide laws are prevalent in the U.S., but have done nothing to reduce violence against pregnant women. Instead, they have been used to arrest and prosecute pregnant women for their behaviour, and to justify restrictions on abortion — even when such laws exclude abortion and pregnant women from criminal liability. Our fear that this bill will be used in a similar way in Canada is not unjustified.
It's simple: under the law, only a "person" can have a crime committed against him/her. A fetus isn't legally a person until it emerges from the birth canal, so it isn't possible to commit a crime against it. Passing a bill that recognizes a crime against a fetus instead of a crime against the mother who owns the body it inhabits does nothing but endow the fetus with the rights of a person; in an adversarial situation, whose rights trump whose?

Pro-choicers suggest a far better alternative to C-484: a law that recognizes causing a miscarriage as a crime against the mother. That way, the loss of the fetus is recognized, but the mother's rights to personal ownership, liberty and self-determination are intact. Everybody's happy, and the icing on the cake is that such a bill might actually protect pregnant women, something C-484 doesn't do.

The telltale sign is that anti-choicers are having none of it. They'd rather be able to say a dead fetus has had a crime committed against it than prevent it from being harmed in the first place. "Oh nonono", they say "You just don't get it". Wrongo. We get it just fine: though the road is full of sneaky little twists and turns, we know exactly where it goes.

UPDATE: Joyce Arthur responds in the comments at BCL.

I'm a little bemused by the assumption of one of the commenters that "majority support" should have any bearing on this issue. Majority support (or lack thereof) should never be a determinant in a human rights issue (and this issue profoundly impacts women's rights). That's what the expression "tyranny of the majority" is about.