Thursday, July 24, 2008

Joyce Arthur: Pregnancy is an asset, but not a fetus

Joyce Arthur outlines the debate between feminists regarding Bill C-543, which would guarantee extra penalties in sentencing when the victim is a woman.

I wholeheartedly support this bill, and she supports it, too. To her credit.

This bill was introduced by Liberal MP Brent St-Denis in response to the debate surrounding Bill C-484.

But I believe that Bill C-543 and Bill C-484 have different goals and outcomes.

With Bill C-484, the infraction is the result of a fetus being killed or being hurt during the commission of a criminal act.

Whereas with Bill C-543, no fetus has to be killed or injured for that law to apply.

So, if someone had committed an assault against me while I was pregnant, extra penalties would apply, even if there was no injury to the unborn child.

I think this is a legitimate goal. A pregnant woman can be completely vulnerable and the law needs to reflect this.

In arguing in favour of Bill C-543, Joyce Arthur has an interesting argument. She writes:

the pregnancy is like an "asset" that the woman has lost, a piece of property that has been stolen from her - often a very valuable one in her eyes, so the loss deserves to be compensated somehow.

I have a problem with the phrase "the pregnancy is an asset".

A pregnancy is not an asset. It is not property.

Pregnancy is a state. The real asset of this state is the unborn child.

Consider this: If a woman who is carrying twins loses one of them, she's still pregnant. She didn't lose the pregnancy, but she did lose a child. If losing a pregnancy is made to be the determining factor as to whether a woman suffered an injustice, then the law might not recognize the loss of her fetus.

Joyce's stance doesn't make a difference as far as Bill C-543 is concerned. However, if she's willing to argue that a "pregnancy is an asset", then it seems to me that, in the name of equality, the loss of that asset should be recognized in law. (It should be the "fetus" that is recognized, but whatever). Depriving men of their property and assets is against the law. It should be the same with women, especially considering that, for many women, the unborn child is the most precious asset of all.

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