The Canadian Criminal Code reads as follows,
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.
Sounds great for pro-choice Canadians, right? Wrong. As a general rule, I refuse to refer to the law when making my arguments for abortion rights. There are some rights that are inherent that cannot be changed by legislation. The right not to be discriminated against due to race was always wrong, even when it was legal. The right not to be discriminated against due to gender or sexual orientation does not change, even if it is illegal. Currently in Canada, there is no legal right to die.Sue Rodriguez challenged the law and lost in the Supreme Court. I believe that every human being has the right to decide the time and manner in which they die and that they should legally be allowed to seek the assistance of a physician. I agree that the right needs to be regulated to some degree to ensure it is not abused but ultimately every person has a right to die. This is a right regardless of what the law says. The law is slow to change and often does not accurately reflect society. Sadly, sometimes the law reflects society, but it is still wrong.
The reason I never like to use the argument that a fetus does not become a human being until the criteria in s 223 of the Criminal Code is met, is because it would not take much to change that definition. In Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC for short by no small coincidence) has a majority government. Not because the majority of Canadians voted for them, not even because the majority of voters voted for them. In fact, 50% of Canadians voted for other parties but because of the way our system works (for better or for worse) all it took for their majority was for the party to get 40% ofvoters’ support. Now that the CPC has the majority of seats in the House of Commons, the party makes the law. Except for very few “free votes,” the members of the CPC will toe (or tow, depending on your view) the party line and vote in unison to abolish the long-gun registry and to pass a massive 9-in-1 crime bill that was already voted down when they have a minority government, among other things. As a party they could very easily change the definition of when a fetus becomes a human being to the moment of conception. And the law would be changed.
Guess what? CPC anti Brad Trost is making a very big deal out of the government’s decision to fund International Planned Parenthood Federation. Do not let the title mislead you, a huge percentage of CPC MPs are anti-choice; Trost is no rogue. Their base is made up of the far-right former Reform Alliance. That base did not disappear when the Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form the CPC. They are still out there and they see the CPC majority (the first in almost 2 decades) as the ticket to controlling a woman’s right to abortion once and for all. Brad Trost has vowed to take a more aggressive stance against abortion rights and his base in the Reform Alliance. They are the tea-partiers of Canada and they are just as well-funded, just as angry, and just as dangerous.
Even if the CPC changed the law and effectively made abortion illegal by giving a fetus the right to personhood, it would not change the fact that abortion is a woman’s right. Perhaps the only saving grace is that a court appeal would be quickly launched and any CPC law infringing on abortion rights would be put on “hold” while the courts sorted out the legality, which would take long enough that Canadians could come to their senses and remove the CPC from government.
But because the law can be changed so easily, I prefer to rely on the moral arguments in favour of abortion. The fact is, nobody has the right to use another person’s body without their consent or permission. That fact does not change when it involves a woman and a fetus. Regardless of whether the law supports that fact does not change it and the fact that it does support it just means that fewer women will die. Pro-choicers are better off using these arguments rather than relying on “because it’s legal” type arguments. Legal abortion is tenuous, especially in the US. There are very well funded groups that would like nothing more than for women to die from back-alley abortions and they are working hard to make that a reality, both in Canada and the US.
If you want to let Brad Trost know that Canadians do not support him, please email him at Trost.B@parl.gc.ca or you can let him know on Twitter @BradTrostCPC. If you happen to be a constituent of Saskatoon-Humboldt, even better! Let him know by putting ‘Constituent Correspondence’ in the Re Line.
Mr. Trost, Canadians are pro-choice even if you are not!