On Wednesday evening, the Harper government -- aided and abetted by Liberal leader Stephane Dion's inability to lead - voted to take this country one step closer to robbing women of their reproductive rights.
Here's part of today's treeware column on this, with added links:
Yes, well, he has indeed been standing against women's reproductive rights for a long time.
Wednesday evening, all the women of the Conservative caucus stood with him, with the notable exceptions of Quebec MPs Sylvie Boucher and Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Verner who, it should be noted, is also responsible for the Status of Women.
Epp's Bill C-484 is properly called "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence)" but is usually cited by its short title, "The Unborn Victims of Crime Act."
For one thing, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a woman and her fetus are considered "one person." That means there are no "unborn victims'' of crime.
For another thing, amending the Criminal Code, which states that personhood begins at birth, to recognize a "human being" in utero is about a whole lot more than what the bill's supporters claim it is.
"This is all about protecting the choice of a woman to give birth to her child," said Epp last fall. "It is about condemning the actions of those who would take it upon themselves to criminally assault a pregnant woman and the child she wants and loves."
So how about a bill protecting all women from abusive partners, with the money and the muscle to back it up, instead? Or is that too much for a government that shut down mechanisms through which women can sue for equality?
That said, murder – mostly by intimate partners – is a leading cause of death for pregnant women.
A little rant break here ...
Today I received an email from one of my misogynist regulars -- hey Andrew, does your boss know what you do on your supermarket chain's account? -- who wrote:
Your article shows how stupid you are. Women kill more of their own unborn children than men kill women. That is why we need legislation to protect unborn children from their mothers. Women are more violent than men after all. They commit more murders. They just call it abortion.
I wonder if Andrew would have preferred a bill that puts all women of child-bearing age in a form of forced confinement -- remember that term? -- so that they are protected from their partners? That way, those who might prefer to end their pregnancies can't, and will serve as baby incubators, with no control over their bodies, lives, health or futures.
Because that's much of the mentality out there.
Epp and his supporters claim no such thing would happen if Bill C-484 is passed. That this is not aimed at eliminating women's right to control their own bodies. They say that the bill, as currently worded, protects abortion rights.
But, experts say, those protections can easily be struck down by the courts.
Now the bill is off to committee, one step closer to passage.
One last note: Liberal leader Stéphane Dion was among 10 of his caucus members who did not show up to state their yea or nay.
Have a happy one.
While this has received minimal coverage in the mainstream media which, as usual, is more concerned with raw politics than policy, it has consumed the femme-o-sphere. Blogs such as Birth Pangs and Unrepentant Old Hippie have been all over this since Epp introduced his a-fetus-is-now-a-person bill. Because, make no mistake, if you have an ''unborn victim,'' you can also have an "unborn person.'' And, judging by the jubilation in the anti-abortion circles, that's what's next on their agenda.
Just for the record, along with NDP member Peter Stoffer, here are the 28 Liberal MPs who stood with the Conservatives:
Raymond Bonin; John Cannis; Hon. Raymond Chan; Hon. Roy Cullen; Sukh Dhaliwal; Hon. Albina Guarnieri; Hon. Charles Hubbard; Hon. Jim Karygiannis Derek Lee; Hon. Lawrence MacAulay; Hon. Gurbax Malhi; Hon. John McKay; Hon. Joe McGuire; Hon. Dan McTeague; Hon. Shawn Murphy; Massimo Pacetti; Francis Scarpaleggia; Hon. Raymond Simard; Lloyd St. Amand; Paul Steckle; Paul Szabo; Hon. Robert Thibault; Alan Tonks; Roger Valley; Tom Wappel; Borys Wrzesnewskyj; John Maloney.
Here's Birth Pangs' official statement on this:
CANADA – The Liberals’ vote – or lack thereof – on Bill C-484, the Kicking Abortion’s Ass Bill, yesterday is another empty gesture in a long list of failures by the Opposition, said BP activist and Founder, fern_hill, today.
“The Liberals went into Wednesday’s session (or stayed out of it) knowing full well that Canadian women saw it as a backdoor attempt to attack women’s rights to reproductive freedom. Still, Mr. Dion could not be found to vote for or against it. This is the latest in a string of failures by this Opposition to take a stand for Canada and for Canadian women,” said Ms. hill.
“On the eve of International Women’s Day, this is disappointing for Canadian women because it’s clear that the Liberals don’t take women’s equality seriously. We urge the Liberals to stop turning back the clock, and come up with a vote that supports women’s rights,” she said.
Hill noted that many Canadian organizations representing women’s rights urged Dion to whip his caucus to vote against the Bill and that the Liberal Leader’s support for women is, “All words. Little action. No support for Women.”
Hope and Onions has an excellent summary of the blogging so far. Other great posts -- and whew! some people are really really angry! -- come from The Galloping Beaver, Canadian Cynic, April Reign, Bastard Logic, Politics'n'Poetry and Sooey Says. But my favourite has to be from The Wingnuter who can't spell but who sure can spell it out.
Even thought the fetus is not a legal entity in Canadian Law, The Harper Government will now allow all pregnant mother to claim the unborn as a dependent on their taxes. Mr. Harper said "Hey if we can charge for murdering a none legal entity, the very least we can do is allow the mother to claim the unborn as dependent on their taxes too."
Happy International Women's Day.
Oh and one more thing, I look forward to a world where we don't have to have such an event, when women the world over are treated like human beings, not chattel or property, where they can walk freely where they want to go, dressed the way they please, educated, respected, not abused or murdered by the men in their lives, their genitals not mutilated, their ''honour'' not protected by their violent death.
Call me a rabid feminist. I can take it.