Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Abortions for some...miniature American flags for others!

Ok, this is beyond ridic: "MP unveils fetal homicide bill: Aims to protect unborn from violence" [TorStar, May 22, by Tonda MacCharles]
A Conservative MP has introduced a private member's bill that would make it a separate criminal offence to harm an unborn child in cases where a pregnant mother is assaulted or murdered.
The bill that pro-choice advocates say has implications for the abortion debate in this country "is not an abortion bill," says Alberta Conservative backbencher Leon Benoit, who describes himself as "pro-life."
It is restricted to cases where women are deliberately targeted for violence, he said.
"To me it's all about protecting, especially, pregnant women against violence, and where they've made the choice to keep their child, of protecting that unborn child."
This is a warmed-over version of the U.S. Laci Peterson law, or "The Unborn Victims of Violence Act" that Bush churned out during 2004. Yeah, it was an election year stunt too: Kerry voted against it noting the poison-pill language that could provide a basis for future attacks on reproductive rights. A very astute blogger at BushCampaignLies put his/her finger on the button:
Kerry opposed this bill because it codifies into law the notion that life begins at conception, which starkly contradicts the position of the pro-choice movement. [...] The fact is that Republicans exploited the Laci Peterson tragedy in order to gain support for the bill --- and demonize its opponents --- precisely so that they could pass legislation which accords the same rights to a fetus as to anyone else.
Thankfully, the Star piece included reaction from the wonderful Mary Eberts (Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, "LEAF"):
...if Parliament passes the bill, it would eventually lead down the path of arguments for more restrictions on abortions, says Mary Eberts, co-founder of the women's Legal Education and Action Fund, and a Charter equality rights litigator.
"It is quite a change philosophically, or in principle, from the foundation of the common law at the present time," Eberts said.
"I think that any such change is bound to set off ripples in future cases or in other situations."
Eberts agrees with Benoit, who cites studies of a higher rate of abuse toward women who are pregnant. But Eberts says Canada's criminal law already takes aggravating circumstances into account upon sentencing. Charging a separate offence would not necessarily lead to more jail time for a convicted offender since multiple sentences are often served concurrently, or at the same time, she adds.
"There may be a kind of symbolic significance to adding this kind of crime, but I think in practical terms if the perpetrator is charged with first-degree murder or second-degree murder, then you would get a good sentence that should satisfy even the most heartbroken of people, and that should also satisfy the conscience of the country.
"We're not just talking about the bereaved families' wish for accountability. Shooting a woman while she is pregnant — she is particularly vulnerable at that time — I would not be the least bit surprised if there was a substantial sentence, and I can't really see what adding this other crime would do except to be satisfying in a symbolic way."
Eberts/LEAF have it exactly right: attacks on women's rights "work" best when they work around the edges. Nibble at the margins until there's nothing left but a rusty coat-hanger in South Dakota. Think I'm over-reacting? Have you seen Frontline's "The Last Abortion Clinic"? Watch it now! Particularly Chapter 2: "Chipping away at Roe v. Wade"
Yes, yes, I know: we're not South Dakota. Or even Mississippi. But we do make our own nutters. Witness "REAL Women" and their campaign to dismantle the Status of Women. I received this warning back in April and didn't even bother to post about it until I was reminded by Monday's article in the Star.


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