Monday, November 28, 2005

Hot Potato Legislation?

This story from the Edmonton Sun is going to cause a bit of a stir in some circles. If I understand it correctly -- and it's printed plainly enough -- a Tory MP in Saskatchewan wants to make it a crime of murder to kill an "unborn child."

The private member's bill is still in the draft stage, so the wording is not available, but the warning flags have been raised.

"Vellacott, who is a member of the pro-life parliamentary caucus, dismissed any suggestion such legislation could re-open the debate on abortion rights. He said the purpose of the bill is to protect only unborn children whose mothers have decided to carry them to term."

Yeah, right. Show me a pro-lifer who doesn't want to turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term as a person, and I'll show you a drunken pig that can dance the mambo with style and grace.

"But a family lawyer said it would be a radical shift in Canadian law to declare a fetus a person for the purposes of laying murder charges.

"Such a change would trample women's rights under the charter.


"If a fetus at eight weeks is a legal person, than forget about having a woman's right to choose," said Marie Gordon."


And that pretty much sums it up.

While I sympathize with anyone who wants to carry to term, but loses a fetus before the birth ritual, I think this is a very bad bill-in-waiting. Because no matter what he says, I quite simply do not trust anyone who calls himself "pro-life" and then says he doesn't want to do away with choice. Pro-lifers are more aptly named "anti-choice."

I can think of one pretty obvious scenario under which this bill could be abused if it became law: a pregnant woman, on her way to an appointment to have an abortion, is either killed or badly injured and the fetus does not survive. What charges, if any, will be laid on behalf of the fetus? Keep in mind that as a citizen, the woman (or a member of her surviving family) has no say in what charges will be laid. In Canada, the victim of a crime has no legal standing.

So we get a hot-shot crown counsel, eager to make a name for himself, and he charges murder for the fetus.

"But she was on her way to having an abortion," you protest.

"Yeah, but she could have changed her mind. And we are going to assume that at the moment of death, she did change her mind. And you can't prove any different."

The short-and-bitter conversation would not go precisely like that, but that's a nutshell gist.

The bright side here is that, with an election hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles, this bill-in-waiting is not likely to make it to the floor. At least not this go-round. But, unlike the rest of the world, private members' bills can be reincarnated.

As always, learn from the past and look to the future.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Lisa said...

See this scares me. First the US come ever closer to overturning Roe V. Wade and now bill suggestions like these are popping up in Canada? I'm in freaking bizarro world.

But seriously, a bill like this would never pass, would it?

Monday, November 28, 2005 2:39:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Not this session, Lisa. We are now officially in election mode, which means that all pending legislation is dead. Hopefully, someone will bury this one before it starts to stink.

Nice of you to visit all the way from the Netherlands, by th' way! I like your blog (I was over to visit yesterday), but one thing puzzles me: I entered my url into your comments section to post a comment, but it doesn't show up in the comments themselves. Do you hide the urls on purpose, or is that a built-in feature of your blog template? And how do your commenters find each others' blogs if the links don't post?

Monday, November 28, 2005 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Chimera, AB has just introduced something similar, although it's not "murder" - a pregnant woman was in an accident an the child is now facing significant medical challenges, but the insurance co won't pay (the woman was at fault, so this is HER carrier). They are trying to grant the fetus some legal rights so as to be able to sue in situations like this. I haven't read the particular bill but the gov't is saying it is carefully worded so as to avoid confusion regarding abortion.

As well, you've got jerks like the guy here in Edmonton who murdered (allegedly) his pregnant wife, but can't be charged on behalf of the baby a la Lacy in the US...

This is a dicey one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Oboy, Candace; what a mess for her. The fetus was injured, it's the pregnant woman's fault, and -- who's she going to sue? Herself?

I'd like to take a closer look at this one, for sure. When it starts to hit the AB news, do a post on it, willya?

Wait a minute...I just re-read what you said. They're trying to give the fetus legal standing as a person so someone can sue the mother on its behalf? (shakes head) I got a headache.

I think they're going to have to wait until the birth. Hell, just getting a court date is gonna take longer than gestation!

But I am fascinated. Keep this in mind for a post on your site, okay?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger DazzlinDino said...

I heard all about what Candace is talking about, and it took me about 15minutes of listening on the radio to figure out they wanted to sue the mother on behalf of the fetus, wierd stuff.....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 7:22:00 PM  

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