As 2008 begins, we here in Canada are once again seeing a push by anti-choice politicians and lobbyists to infringe a women’s right to choose. A member of Canada’s governing Conservative party has introduced a private member’s bill that would make it a crime to intentionally kill an unborn child while committing a crime against the mother. This is in response to several cases in Canada where pregnant women and their unborn child have been killed in violent attacks. As it stands now, individuals charged with the murder of the women are not charged with the murder of the unborn child, and the bill seeks to change this.
Many pro-choice supporters know very well that this is a dangerous road to go down, obviously; it opens up the debate of fetal life, and the rights of the unborn. In the United States, several states have already passed legislation that makes it legal to charge a suspect for two separate deaths when a pregnant woman has been murdered. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, has released Talking Points Against the Unborn Victims Act, that proves that bills such as the one introduced in Canada do nothing to protect women from violence, and serve only to limit women’s freedoms and punish women for behavior that may be deemed to “endanger” the fetus.
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The most worrying part of the bill is that no discussion whatsoever has taken place to discuss why so many pregnant women are dying at the hands of an intimate partner. Instead of addressing the causes of domestic violence and how we can help eliminate such practices, we are being told that the real problem is the fact that perpetrators are not being charged with two murders. Recently in Calgary, Alberta women were being turned away from shelters because they were running at capacity, proving only that the problem of domestic abuse is not being addressed.
Furthermore I would argue that the real problem of women’s inequality is still not being addressed, and has in fact been completely ignored by the Government of Canada. Once the Conservative party took power almost two years ago, one of their first acts was to get rid of a federal government ministry which focused on women’s issues. Citing the need to cut expenditures, the Conservative party did away with Status of Women, without blinking an eye. This proves to me that there is little awareness in either government of in Canadian society of the inequalities that women still face today.
So as we begin another year there is still work to be done to ensure that the sexual and reproductive rights of all Canadians are being respected. All too often these rights are being taken for granted by many of us here in Canada without giving a second thought to the work being done by the anti-choice movement to undermine these rights. Abortion and women’s rights are only two areas where the anti-choice movement is gaining ground, the issue of same-sex marriage and equal rights for gays, lesbians, and transgender people are also being attacked under the guise of freedom of religion. My hope for 2008 is that we become a more accepting society here in Canada and that we do not give into social conservatives who are working towards a much different goal.