Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ken Epp answers objections on Bill C-484

In today's Times and Transcript Ken Epp says the same things that I've been saying: feminists are badly informed. They are not basing their objections on what is written in the bill, and are, in effect, fear-mongering.

On criminalizing abortion, he says:

Consensual abortion and actions of the pregnant women are explicitly excluded from C-484. The bill's wording is clear--charges can only be laid when a person is "committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother of the child, who the person knows or ought to know is pregnant . . ." And just to ensure there is no misinterpretation, I added a clause, "for greater certainty, this section does not apply in respect of (a) conduct relating to the lawful termination of the pregnancy of the mother of the child to which the mother has consented . . . or (c) "any act or omission by the mother of the child."

On comparisons with American fetal protection laws:

Ms. Petitpas-Taylor is parroting the alarmist claims of abortion activist groups (e.g. the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada) which have been attempting to discredit C-484 by alleging that hundreds of women have been arrested/prosecuted under supposedly similar laws in the U.S.

I have researched the U.S. situation and have discovered that comparing C-484 in Canada to fetal protection laws in the U.S. is to compare apples and oranges. The fetal homicide/unborn victims of violence laws in American states, as well as the child abuse/endangerment laws (which are generally the laws that have been used to prosecute pregnant women in the U.S., not unborn victims of violence laws), are for the most part different in significant ways from C-484. Unlike most of the U.S. laws, including those in South Carolina which Ms Petitpas-Taylor singles out, C-484 applies only when the pregnant woman herself is the victim of a crime.

A mother endangering her unborn child through drug or alcohol abuse is not a victim of a crime, so C-484 cannot possibly apply. And as noted above, C-484 explicitly excludes actions by the pregnant woman, unlike the laws in South Carolina (and various other States) to which C-484 is being compared.

Focusing on what has happened to pregnant women in the U.S. is a red herring. It is a smoke-screen designed to take the focus off the real issue of violence against pregnant women and the babies they want to protect. By painting an alarming picture of the U.S. situation and analogizing it to Canada, opponents of C-484 instill fear that this bill will be used against pregnant women in Canada, when the exact opposite is what C-484 will do.

On Supreme Court Rulings:

Ms. Petitpas-Taylor is also wrong to say that C-484 conflicts with Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court has consistently said, in ruling after ruling -- most notably, the 1988 Morgentaler decision -- that Parliament has a legitimate interest in the protection of the fetus and that it is not up to the courts to decide how to protect the unborn child, but up to legislators.

And that is exactly what I am attempting with C-484. This bill would offer criminal law protection to the unborn child in one very narrow circumstance; that is, when the mother who has chosen not to have an abortion is the victim of a criminal offence.

On the accusation that the unborn child would become a person because of this law:

In fact, the Law Reform Commission of Canada, in its 1989 report, "Crimes Against the Foetus," recommended that the killing of a woman's unborn child against her will be a criminal offence.

As the Commission noted, one does not have to be a "person" to receive protection in criminal law. Our criminal law already provides some protection to animals and dead bodies -- so why not some protection to the child in the womb of a woman who wants that child to live?

I wish this would have been published in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, so feminists across Canada could read this.

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