Thursday, April 26, 2012

Huffington Post Canada Poll says majority favour today's abortion debate

Today is the day apparently.  Canada's parliament is set to debate the creation of a committee to determine at what point a fetus should be considered a human being. 

Extremists exist on both sides of this debate, and when extremists have the floor democracy often suffers.  Into the fray stepped Huffington Post Canada with an on-line debate between the motion's author Stephen Woodworth and Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) co-founder Joyce Arthur.

The question being debated is this:

Currently Canadian law deprives a child of recognition as a human being until the moment of complete birth. Therefore Parliament should study what modern medical information tells us about when a child should be considered a human being.

Regardless of one's view I think we can all agree that democratic values should trump any one view, either for or against.  At least thats this blogger's opinion.  Obviously on-line polls aren't the best barometer of public opinion, but in the absence of any conflicting data I don't think they're totally without merit.

As things currently stand the numbers are 58% agreeing with Mr. Woodworth and 41% siding with Ms. Arthur, 1% are undecided.  Ms. Arthur is winning the debate however, given that she has swung most opinion her way, it seems most of the undecided agree with her arguments after reading the opinion pieces. 

You can read and take part in the poll here:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I guess all of Europe is misogynist - Welcome to the new Canada

Demonizing those with whom one disagrees, that's something we're seeing more and more of in this country.  We certainly heard it during our most recent federal election.  Had Canadians elected a majority of NDP and Liberal MPs the country would have been utterly destroyed, or so it seemed based on the rhetoric coming from the Conservative party.

There were many on the left though that held similar thoughts of Canada's imminent demise should a Tory majority result.  As for me personally, my hope was for a centre/left coalition, but at the same time I didn't view a Harper majority as having the ability to destroy Canada.

But maybe I was wrong.  If you view the capacity for civil discourse as being something intrinsically Canadian, then maybe Canada has indeed undergone a fundamental change.  It seems to me that there are some centre/left adherents who have adopted the vary language and tactics they used to deride.

I have put quite a few noses out of joint for having had the temerity to suggest that I would not be averse to Canada adopting abortion statutes similar to those that currently exist in many European countries.   Basically that would mean extending some rights to a later term fetus, one so far developed that it would be capable of surviving autonomous of its mother. 

Sweden is a country whose laws to me seem reasonable.  There are many who disagree, and I take no issue with that.

I do however take some issue with some of the rhetoric being used to combat my opinion.  Apparently, because I don't hold to the view that a woman's right to security of the person should trump all over those of an unborn child, at every stage of pregnancy....well it seems to serve the purpose of some wonderfully open-minded and so called progressive individuals to characterize me as any number of things: 

Apparently I'm a misogynist, a creationist and a bible thumper...those are the ones I'll print here.  There are others that I'll refrain from repeating given that I try to steer clear of profanity on this blog.

Certainly human rights in general and woman's rights in particular are not something limited to our sparsely populated northern democracy.  I suggest that those who are truly enraged at the thought of any restriction being placed on a woman's right to an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, that they organize a boycott of all things Swedish, French, German...and on and on. 

There are plenty of countries which do not allow complete and unrestricted access to abortion during the entire 9 months of pregnancy, (almost every country in the world) so obviously they are all deserving of being labeled misogynist and worthy of utter contempt and the suspension of normal human decency when it comes to dealing with them. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The progressive pissing contest and the abortion debate....

When is a human being a human being, and who exactly is progressive?

These are two questions being raised in the wake of Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's motion to have Canada's parliament establish a committee to study the question of when a human being is actually a human being.

As things currently stand, in terms of legal status, that point is after a child is no longer in the womb.  With that legal definition our current lack of any laws with respect to abortion is perfectly justified and acceptable.  Because the fetus/child has no rights, at any point prior to birth, a woman's right to security of the person is paramount at any stage of pregnancy, because the fetus isn't legally a person.

You can watch the MP being interviewed in a media scrum here:

In the interview he brings up some points which some might rather not discuss.  Two of them are African slaves and women prior to being granted the vote.  In the case of slavery, Africans had no legal rights in the U.S. prior to the 1860s because legally they weren't persons, they were property.  Women until the middle part of the twentieth century were not allowed any say in the electing of government members in this country.

Fortunately society 'progressed'...although slave owners and some men probably didn't think so at the time.  In the case of slave owners, they lost rights over those that were once considered their property, and men saw the weight of their vote diluted.   I would argue that society overall progressed but the rights of certain groups did actually regress, and justifiably so. 

The MP is questioned about the evidence this committee would hear.  That evidence he says would be of the medical/scientific variety and would include such things as determining at what point brain waves are present  or at which point a fetus develops an independent blood type. 

Does this really matter?  Of course it does.

If parliament were to reach a determination that a fetus is a human being at any point prior to birth, then the rights of the fetus or pre-born child could be seen as in conflict with the rights of women to terminate a pregnancy at any point.  In other words women would have less choice.

This will come as news to the majority of Canadians who aren't aware that Canada has no laws concerning abortion whatsoever.  Angus Reid conducted a poll back in 2009 which found 92% of Canadians were not aware that abortion in Canada is legal during all nine months of pregnancy.  Another poll (this one on-line) also by Angus pegged the number of Canadians aware of the status-quo at just 21%.  That would make it 79% who don't know the current legal situation.  But whether the percentage is 92 or 79 or somewhere in between, that's still an overwhelming majority who are ignorant of the facts. 

Just my personal opinion here, but I think democracy works best when citizens are informed and not ignorant.  Which brings me to the progressive pissing contest going on.

This blog belongs to a web site called Progressive Bloggers, and some members are furious at Canadian Soapbox's inclusion because of my willingness to debate and publish content on this subject.  Worse still is my willingness to consider that perhaps a late term fetus should maybe have some legal standing. 

They want no discussion on this issue because discussion has the very real possibility of bringing limitations on a woman's right to choose, and it seems their expressed opinion is that any extension of human rights to a pre-born is regressive not progressive.

My view is ultimately rooted in public discussion and reasonable debate.  I don't have any issue with a proposal for elected officials to hear evidence about when human life starts.  That's democracy, and it will allow for informed opinion.  Please take note of the word opinion.

If it then leads to an attempt to re-criminalize abortion I will inform myself and reach an opinion based on the facts presented.    If Canada were to adopt laws similar to that of say Sweden, I wouldn't be averse. 

Here are links to the polling data I cited:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On abortion and absolute rights

With parliament preparing to discuss Canada's position on abortion I wrote about the topic this past Monday, daring to express the opinion that I am not opposed to extending some rights to viable late term fetuses or pre-born babies, excepting cases where there's a threat to maternal health. 

I've waded into this debate before and wasn't surprised at the reaction: the anger, the name calling and the sheer venom and insults hurled at me  It started with a suggestion that I 'sit down and shut the f*** up'.  I'm apparently woefully uninformed, ignorant, and a woman hater...and I'm also a Bible thumping creationist apparently, because I view the evolutionary theory to which I ascribe as a theory.  For some labeling something as a "scientific" theory gives it enough credence that is should be automatically accepted as fact.  Thankfully real scientists don't operate this way...but I digress.

This is the way it is with polarizing issues.  Extremists engaged in any debate will use any and all rhetoric at their disposal to diminish the arguments of those who don't share their 'absolutely' right point of view.

I'll be double checking all my spelling and grammar after writing this, because if I were to slip up and spell abortion as aboution, well some bright bulb would likely start screaming...HE CAN'T EVEN SPELL THE WORD, OBVIOUSLY THIS GUY AND HIS VIEWS ARE MORONIC!!!

Again, that's how polarizing issues and the extreme elements engaged in debate often operate. 
Its all about what I'll call 'absolutism'. 

For Pro-Life extremists, the rights of the fetus from conception onward should be absolute.  For extremists in the Pro-Choice camp, it is the right of a woman to security of the person and reproductive choice that is absolute. 

You can't discuss or even debate an issue with an extremist, it is utterly pointless.  If you disagree with them, well you're obviously an idiot because their view is absolutely right and any deviation from their line of thinking is absolutely wrong.

No wonder almost half of Canadians (Poll results here, thanks Dawg) believe this debate shouldn't be taking place.  And the extreme element of the Pro-Choice lobby concurs, of that I am certain. 

Why would Pro-Choice advocates want debate when they've achieved total victory?   As things now stand a woman has complete and absolute security of her person with respect to reproductive choice. She can exercise that right legally even if it means terminating a fully developed fetus or pre-born baby, because the pre-born child has zero rights and no standing in law.

There is perhaps a justification for wanting to squelch any and all debate, and that justification comes from looking at the other extreme.  There are some in this country who advocate taking away all options when it comes to reproductive choice.  For extremist Pro-Lifers a woman should have no right to an abortion, ever.

And so it seems Canada has been forced into a corner where we must choose one extreme or the other.  The complete right to an abortion, even up to the time before birth, with a pre-born child having zero rights.  Or a pregnant woman having no choice whatsoever, with a fetus from conception onward having precedence when it comes to security of the 'person'.

But does Canada have to pick one extreme the other?  Maybe we do.  The coming debate in our House of Commons may help answer that question. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fasten your seat belts, here comes the abortion debate...

In just under three and a half years I have written or touched on the topic of abortion 21 times.  In fact the most often read post on this blog is "Abortion in Canada Legal – Right Up Until Time of Birth".

Well, here goes number 22.

Canada is about to have a parliamentary debate on the topic of...yes, you guessed it..abortion.  Forget about Justin Trudeau's victory over Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau. A debate about abortion is bound to be far more combative and nasty than anything that takes place in a boxing ring.

For those who might scream foul at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over a promise that his government would not reopen the debate, take a second.  This is an initiative of MP  Stephen Woodworth acting as a private member, not of the Harper government.  And in point of fact the Conservative member from Kitchener isn't even proposing any new legislation, he merely wants parliament to discuss and potentially study the present law, one which says a child only becomes a human being with rights after it emerges from its mother's womb.

What's truly remarkable about this debate is how woefully ignorant Canadians are with respect to our laws.  Just over two years ago a poll was published by Angus Reid with results showing 92% of Canadians were not aware that our nation has no laws on the books whatsoever. 

In this Canada stands completely alone among developed nations.  France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden...liberal democracies all, and all have laws defining when an abortion can take place, or rather when it cannot.  With restrictions typically coming in the 3rd trimester unless there is a threat to maternal health.

The debate is already in full flight on the Internet of course.  In the red corner, those who think a woman should have the right to make decisions about her body no matter what stage of pregnancy are  in full battle mode.

And in the blue corner the right to lifers, cheering the fact that Canada will finally debate the topic of when or if a fetus/preborn should ever be accorded rights under our laws. 

The only polling data I can come across is just over 10 years old, from 2001, but I suspect the numbers haven't changed much.  According to a Gallup poll done in December of that year over 60% of Canadians think there should be restrictions on abortion, with 14% of the survey supporting an outright ban.  Only 32% believed abortion should be legal in all circumstances, the status quo in other words.

I'm in the majority on this one.  I am pro-choice, but not in the third trimester when a fetus is so far developed even Henry Morgentaller himself called them babies.  I will grant that the number of late-term abortions that take place (excepting cases of maternal health) are incredibly small, but that's why we have laws.  Just because something happens rarely doesn't mean it should necessarily be excluded from any statute.

For those in the 32% minority (based on Gallup's polling numbers) who are angry this debate is even taking place, I'd note that 32% is even less than the Conservative's percentage of the popular vote in any of our recent elections.