Abortion Discussion Reopened In Canada: Is A Fetus A Person?
This week, the abortion discussion was backhandedly reopened in Canada as a Conservative MP’s motion to re-examine when a fetus legally becomes a person was debated on Friday. His movement will go to vote on Wednesday, and although he believes it will not go through, it has caused concern amongst many Canadians.
Currently, our Criminal Code subsection 223(1) states that a fetus “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…”, meaning at birth. Stephen Woodworth, a Conservative MP from Kitchener-Center in Ontario, wants a 12-member all party (meaning inclusive of all minority governments) committee to review this definition.
Interestingly enough, our Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has openly stated that he does not support this motion. This, and his previous claims that he will not reopen abortion discussions, has caused some anger amongst anti-choice Canadians who hoped that a Conservative majority would readdress this. Several Conservative MPs have supported the motion, however. “If Parliament, acting on behalf of all Canadians, refuses to even discuss the issue, it will be letting down the vast majority of Canadians who believe in honest and just laws, grounded in reality as we now understand it,” said Stella Ambler, the Conservative MP for Mississauga South.
Woodworth and other MPs have been harping on the rhetoric that this excludes an entire class of people. David Anderson, the MP for Cypress Hills-Grasslands in Saskatchewan, said, ”If we presently have a law that decrees a certain human being is not a human being, is that an honest and acceptable law?…If Parliament finds itself in a situation where it allows one law that decrees the dehumanization and exclusion of an entire class of people, what are the safeguards that will prevent us from finding reasons to decree that others are not human beings as well? By saying babies are not human beings until they are born, Mr. Woodworth said people can convince themselves that aborting a fetus is not the same as killing a human being – much like plantation owners in the deep south prior to the American Civil War convinced themselves that black slaves were not human.”
This is an incredibly charged comparison, and an uncomfortable one coming from a white Canadian. It’s a comparison used to shame people for aborting fetuses, but more so it is inappropriate and callous to use the suffering of tens of thousands of people to further your unrelated political agenda.
And yet, despite that statement, Woodworth has stated his motivation of for this motion is “irrelevant” and the discussion of abortion is a “distraction”. Somehow, I am not convinced, and neither are most NDP and Liberal MPs. “The Liberal Party does not support reopening the abortion debate in any way. Frankly, it’s a shame that we are wasting time debating this when Canadians are out of work and budget cuts across multiple sectors are putting the health and safety of Canadians at risk,” stated Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti.
The motion goes to vote on Wednesday (today), and as a Canadian woman, I will be watching. Will you?
Written by Emma Tarver