You can always tell who the cynical power-jockeys are up here in the Great North. They gravitate to the party most likely to get them elected, even when they have little or nothing in common with the values implicit in the party name. These infiltrators are almost laughably transparent, but it’s never stopped any of them from trying it yet, even when they get their pee-pees whacked by their constituents in the end.
Take the once-dominant Liberals (please!). There used to be a sub-group within the party calling themselves “Liberals for Life”, even though they were neither. What they should have called themselves was Closet Conservatives Against Choice, which is a far less catchy thing to call oneself, and also far less likely to get votes. But at least then, they’d have been honest. What I don’t understand is why they weren’t in the Tories all along, since their ideology would have fit and then they’d have been in power, where they could have wrought a helluva lot more havoc. (Plus, in the end, they’d have gone down a bit earlier on the same ship with their ideological soulmates instead of continuing to infest an already rat-ridden-enough party.)
There’s a reason I’m bringing this up. Here it is:
On June 21st, Parliament saw first reading of a private member’s bill by Liberal MP Paul Steckle to re-criminalize abortion. Bill C-338, “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (procuring a miscarriage after 20 weeks of gestation)”, would restrict later abortions performed after twenty weeks.
The bill would allow exceptions to save the woman’s life and “to prevent severe pathological physical morbidity of the woman.” Otherwise, anyone who “uses any means or permits any means to be used” to perform an abortion past 20 weeks would be subject to penalties of a prison term of up to five years, and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
Now, this is a bill straight out of the Dark Ages, and which takes a rather large leaf from the US anti-choice movement in terms of attempting to drive a wedge into an issue best left alone. Certainly nobody even calling himself a Liberal (capital L or small) should espouse something so heinous. Five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $100,000? Gee, why not clap all “showing” pregnant women in leg irons and chain them to their beds right away, with an armed guard watching to make sure they don’t try to stick a knitting needle up their wazoos?
Straight Goods goes on to reassure us that this doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. Well, I should hope to shout:
While this bill is very disturbing on several levels — not the least of which is the criminalizing of women’s healthcare — let’s keep in mind that private member’s bills like this are unlikely to get very far. Parliament still has a pro-choice majority. Even in the unlikely event it ever came to a vote, such a blatantly anti-choice bill would not pass. And since Parliament rose for the summer the very next day (June 22), nothing will happen until at least the fall.
Phew. That’s a relief.
But then we get this:
However, this bill is significant in that it is the first private member’s bill to directly attack abortion rights by attempting to return abortion to the Criminal Code. Also, it’s an obvious cynical ploy by the “Parliamentary Pro-life Caucus” — made up primarily of Conservative MPs — to get around Harper’s promise not to legislate on abortion.
Ghaaaah! The Old Cynical Anti-Choice Ploy once more rears its warty head. Will that ugly thing never die? Canada’s been without any criminal abortion laws since 1988, people! And most of us are cool with that and don’t want it changed, EVER.
Of course, when it comes to cynical, Harpo’s an old hand at it himself. He wants to “re-open the debate” (what debate???) on not only abortion, but same-sex marriage. Someone, please, hit that man with a clue-by-four and remind him that there’s a reason he only has a parliamentary minority: MOST CANADIANS VOTED AGAINST HIM. He does not have the political capital necessary to do such things, and even if he did, it would all rebound on him most disastrously.
Well, let’s just return to the Straight Goods article at hand and let it speak for itself:
We have a baseline against which to measure whether a woman’s right to choose is being rolled back.
That baseline shows that eighteen years after the historic Morgentaler decision, Canadian women still face challenges with realizing choice, in particular with access to abortion services. A recent national study of access to abortion services at hospitals across Canada found that:
–only 17.8 of all general hospitals in Canada perform abortions, with some jurisdictions, such as Prince Edward Island and Nunavut, offering no hospital abortion services at all;
–even hospitals providing abortions place obstacles in the way of women trying to obtain one, including restrictive gestational limits and long wait times (sometimes 2-3 weeks);
–in many cases, hospital employees are not able to provide women with information about alternative resources;
–physicians and hospital employees deny women access by refusing information and referrals, or by referring women to anti-choice agencies; and
–many women have to travel significant distances to obtain abortion services, which is time consuming, expensive and conflicts with work and child care.
As you can see, simply being without an abortion law doesn’t exactly give Canadian women untrammelled abortion rights or easy access. And as any woman can tell you who’s decided to have an abortion, only to have trouble gaining access to what is her legal right, the last thing anyone needs is one more obstacle in the way, let alone one so gruesomely punitive.
And the crowning indignity? This is a fine example of how to swat a mosquito with a sledgehammer:
As the only democratic country in the world with no legal restrictions against abortion, Canada serves as a valuable model for other countries. In the eighteen years since the Supreme Court declared our abortion law unconstitutional, we’ve shown that a lack of laws actually leads to earlier and safer abortions. In Canada, about 90 percent of abortions are done by 12 weeks, and about 97 percent by 16 weeks. This is a better record than in the US, where numerous legal restrictions serve mainly to delay abortions and increase the medical risk. Moreover, Canadian women have almost one-third fewer abortions than American women, and at rates comparable to countries in western Europe. Canada also enjoys one of the lowest maternal mortality and complication rates for abortion in the world.
Abortion restrictions in other liberal countries are holdovers from the days of criminal abortion or recent products of religious ideology. Not only do such laws fail to reduce abortions, they also have many negative consequences. They institutionalize the stigma of abortion and foster prejudice against any woman who needs one. They marginalize abortion outside the healthcare system and remove medical discretion from doctors, giving it to lawmakers instead. Physicians should never work under the threat of criminal prosecution simply for providing medical care.
Anti-abortionists frequently say that because Canada has no laws against abortion, women are having them right up to the point of delivery. That is pure poppycock. In Canada, less than 0.4 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks gestation, almost all because of serious fetal or maternal health problems. Only a handful of providers in Canada are trained and willing to do such procedures.
So this law would only be directed at 0.4 percent of abortions, virtually all of which would meet its own criteria for medical necessity anyway? Wow! Someone, please, tell me–what was the reason for introducing this ridiculous bill again?
Never mind–I think I know. And I don’t know what’s more cynical: using a party to winkle one’s way into power, or using that power to winkle one’s way into the parts of a woman’s body that are none of anyone else’s damn business.