La nomination d'Henry Morgentaler à l'Ordre du Canada ne sera pas le seul événement à raviver les tensions entre les pro-vie et les pro-choix au sein du Parti conservateur (PC) fédéral. Les militants conservateurs vont également croiser le fer sur la question de l'avortement lors du prochain congrès d'orientation de la formation politique, qui aura lieu en novembre, à Winnipeg, a appris Le Devoir. À cette occasion, les militants du Québec combattront une proposition qui émane de quelques circonscriptions de l'Ouest du pays et qui vise à donner un statut juridique au foetus.
My translation, with links:
The appointment of Dr. Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada won't be the only thing to resurrect tensions between the pro-life and pro-choice factions of the federal Conservatives. Le Devoir has learned that party members will be crossing swords over the abortion issue during party platform discussions to be held at the policy convention in Winnipeg next November. There, Quebec members will fight a proposal coming out of certain factions in Western Canada who want to confer legal personhood on the fetus.
Heh-heh. Go ahead. Make my day.
Not only would that cement your image as being anti-woman, but it would also seal your government's fate during the next election.
Consider two polls, both reported today, both showing that most Canadians approve of Morgentaler's recognition with an Order of Canada. The first, in today's Star. The second, in the National Post, which has been publishing the most virulent anti-Morgentaler and anti-choice screeds since Canada Day.
If abortion comes up in Winnipeg, the debate will be blown wide open -- and Canadians will learn just how much many Conservatives want to keep women chained to the nursery, stove and bed.
Think I am kidding? The party is supported by people who want to jail women who get abortions.
Mary Ellen Douglas, National Organizer, Campaign Life Coalition: Our society has denied justice for unborn children who are killed daily in their mothers’ wombs at the request of the mother. We need to correct this and return that protection to the unborn. It then follows that jail time for those who commit the crime of abortion is not only just, but absolutely necessary.
Natalie Hudson, Executive director, Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area: There is no easy answer to the question of what the penalty ought to be for a woman who has an abortion. There is no question that the act of abortion takes the life of an unborn child and should be judged as criminal, but the psychological state of a woman who chooses to undergo this procedure should factor into a criminal charge.
Peter Ryan, Executive director, New Brunswick Right to Life Association: The main ones to be held accountable by the law should be those who commit abortions, those who assist at the procedures and those who promote abortions. But women who undergo abortions should also be held accountable for taking a human life. Here, the law should perhaps resemble its present provisions for infanticide, which take account of the oft-present element of emotional duress.
As I wrote today in my treeware column, in discussing the various bills now before Parliament which threaten women's reproductive rights:
(T)here are at least four federal bills, all introduced by men (not surprising since Parliament is overwhelmingly male) that aim below women's belts.
In all the fuss these past few days over Morgentaler's long overdue honour, there has been almost no mention of these bills, as if, even taken together, they pose little threat to a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy – or even to obtain contraception.
Instead, the "debate" has focused on Morgentaler himself who, despite his pioneering for women's health, is really beside the point.
That doesn't diminish his courageous fight, which put his life in danger and his butt in jail, and resulted in that 1988 Supreme Court decision which declared the abortion section of the Criminal Code unconstitutional.
The thing is that, since then, no law has regulated abortion in Canada.
But it's not for lack of trying. Between 2003 and 2005 alone, Conservative MPs introduced no fewer than seven anti-choice bills.
It's no wonder, then, that during the 2004 federal election, party leader Stephen Harper was forced to muzzle his pro-life members while reassuring voters that his government had no plans to reopen the abortion debate.
Well, in a way it hasn't.
That's because two Conservative private member's bills pretend not to be about abortion at all.
Ken Epp's Bill C-484 is, on the surface, about protecting the rights of "unborn victims" from violence.
When he introduced it last December, the vehemently anti-abortion Epp declared he had "been waiting for this moment for over 14 years."
To date, more than a dozen religious and pro-choice groups have come out in support of this bill. Standing against it is a long list of legal, medical, academic and feminist organizations which see C-484 for what it truly is, a back door to sending women back to back alleys.
But it's not the only bill on the legislative table with the potential to restrict women's reproductive options.
In April, Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott put forward Bill C-537, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (protection of conscience rights in the health care profession).
Again, at first glance, it looks fine. No health professionals would be required to administer any treatment that violates their moral or religious beliefs.
But, as Vellacott said straight out when he introduced it, "The bill seeks to ensure that health care providers will never be forced to participate against their will in procedures such as abortions ..."
So, let's say that, there's a terrible accident and the medical team must choose between saving the life of a pregnant woman or her fetus? Or what if a teen needs the morning-after pill and the only pharmacist in town won't dispense it?
It's not surprising that the most vocal opposition to these bills (and one of the others I report on) is coming out of Quebec. That's because, unlike in the most of Canada, there is still a very powerful -- and organized -- feminist movement there. (Another reason may be that Quebecers, once they threw off the shackles of the repressive Church, have never looked back.) That's why so many Quebec-based unions, medical and legal associations and even the National Assembly have opposed Bill C-484 as well as the other proposed legislation.
If only it were so in the English-speaking provinces where the media have all been ignoring these bills.
This doesn't mean you should.