WTF? A Poem?

WTF?

A bunch of racist sexist homophobic nutbarsGOP nazis
spreading shit like this is somehow okay
in the land of the free, home of the brave?

Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) pretends
to prevent race-based abortions, steals from
the civil rights legacy to curb choice

and slams Planned Parenthood in its bid
to serve adherents of white supremacist ideas.

How interesting that Malcolm X and MLK
supported women’s reproductive freedom.

 

c. 2012-02-06 Politics’n’Poetry

Well, Canada, what now?

So, the Liberals stood up Canadian women for a pink party at Stornoway.  The NDP has a turncoat who needs to be removed from the party.  And the anti-choice crowd is partying like they have not partied since before the Morgentaler decision of 1988.  Me, I don’t feel too festive.

I am angry.  I am angry with Parliament, for all the stupidity they’ve engaged in over the past 2+ years, but exceedingly so for this latest attack on women.  It could send a woman into a tailspin.  Fortunately, I’m stronger than that and have bounced back quickly and with more gusto than before.  I am angry with myself, too, for not taking seriously this attack by the anti-choicers, for not catching the pattern of Harper’s attacks.  Never underestimate Steve Harper is the lesson I have learned here.  He is as mean and scary as they come.

So, peeps, what’s next?  How do we take back what is being taken from us?  How do we take back our democracy?

Enemies of Women’s Rights

This is for Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, and Peter Stoffer, the three obvious enemies of women’s right to reproductive freedom, as indicated by their vote — or the lack thereof — on Bill C-484 in Parliament today.

Middle Finger for Dion

Who was it who said, Polite women seldom make history?

Updated to add Stoffer, an NDP MP, to the list.  Here’s hoping he’s disciplined…

Parliamentary Attack on Women’s Rights

MP Ken Epp introduced a private member’s bill, the “Unborn Victims of Crime Act” (C-484), which will likely reappear in the House on February 29 and be voted on on March 5. The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code so that separate homicide charges can be laid when the fetus of a pregnant woman is harmed if she is attacked.

If this bill passes into legislation, it would be an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights. It is a key step towards re-criminalizing abortion, but it could also criminalize pregnant women if their behaviours are deemed to be harmful to fetuses.

Please take a moment to sign the online petition against the bill. Then, contact your MP to ensure s/he votes against it. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has developed 14 talking points which can be used to argue against the bill:

1.    Fetal personhood conflicts with the Criminal Code: The bill grants a type of legal personhood to fetuses. This conflicts with the existing Criminal Code provision that fetuses are not persons until they exit from the birth canal alive. (Section 223[1]). Further, the bill tries to amend Part VIII of the Criminal Code, “Offences Against the Person and Reputation”; however, the fetus is not a legal person and cannot rightly fall under this section.

2.    We need to address domestic violence against pregnant women: The bill takes the focus away from the real issue—domestic violence against pregnant women. When media coverage focuses on the victim’s fetus, the pregnant woman is forgotten. But homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women and new mothers, and violence against women increases during pregnancy. What we need instead of this bill are better measures to reduce violence against pregnant women. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/02/23/earlyshow/main675945.shtml)

3.    The bill does not protect women, only fetuses: The bill does not make it a crime to attack pregnant women, and applies narrowly only to the fetuses of pregnant women. Further, Mr. Epp’s stated intent of the bill is to protect only wanted fetuses. (He said: “This is all about protecting the choice of a woman to give birth to her child.” (http://kenepp.com/newsroom/insidepage.asp?ID=69) However, women who have recently given birth, or have had abortions or are planning to have abortions, are also at increased risk of domestic violence. This bill completely fails them. By far the best way to protect fetuses is to protect pregnant women, their sole caretakers. We need to give pregnant women the supports and resources they need for good pregnancy outcomes, including protection from domestic violence.

4.    The law has no rational or evidential basis. This is a “feel-good” bill designed to satisfy emotional needs, and the wish for punishment and vengeance. There is no evidence the bill will have any deterrent or beneficial effect. “Fetal homicide” laws in the U.S. have done nothing to reduce domestic violence against pregnant women or fetuses (http://advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/whats_new/sc_womens_health_coalition_members_speak_the_truth_about_scs.php). Further, the bill wrongly capitalizes on the grief of families to push a fetal rights agenda.

5.    The bill’s real intent is to give fetuses personhood and criminalize abortion: The narrowness of the bill indicates that the real intent is not to protect women, but to give fetuses legal personhood, for no apparent reason other than to try and use it as a wedge to re-criminalize abortion. The bill was introduced and promoted by anti-abortion groups and individuals (e.g., Campaign Life Coalition, Conservative anti-abortion MP’s, Margaret Somerville, and others). Also, it uses anti-choice language, including “unborn child”, “child” and “mother”. The bill is modeled after similar bills promoted and passed in the U.S. by anti-abortion groups and legislators. In South Carolina, anti-abortion lawmakers explicitly stated they wanted to use the state’s fetal homicide law as a legal foundation to overturn Roe v. Wade (the decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.). (http://advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/whats_new/sc_womens_health_coalition_members_speak_the_truth_about_scs.php)

6.    The bill conflicts with women’s guaranteed rights and equality under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman and her fetus are considered “physically one” person under the law (Dobson vs. Dobson, http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/1999/1999rcs2-753/1999rcs2-753.html), and that rights accrue to the pregnant woman. It would be extremely difficult to give fetuses any legal recognition without compromising women’s established rights in some way.

7.    Legally separating a woman from her fetus causes harm: Creating a legal separation of a pregnant woman and her fetus can result in a harmful, adversarial relationship between them. When their interests conflict, one or both can be endangered. For example, if pregnant women are threatened with arrest for abusing drugs, they are less likely to seek pre-natal care. (http://advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/issues/punishment_of_pregnant_women/prosecuting_mothers_wont_protect_our_children.php)

8.    The bill creates an inherent contradiction and confusion in the law, by pitting fetal rights against women’s rights, and creating a conflict with abortion rights. If a fetus is a legal entity with the right not to be killed, how then can abortion be exempt, and why should a pregnant woman’s potentially harmful behaviours be exempt? The law opens the door to pregnant women being targeted for their behaviours or for self-abortions, as has happened in some U.S. states.
 
9.    Pregnant women have been arrested under U.S. fetal homicide laws: In the United States, 37 states have enacted fetal protection laws or so-called “fetal homicide” laws, which make it a crime to cause harm to a fetus. (http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=135873)  But under these laws, it’s been shown that pregnant women are more likely to be punished for behaviours and conditions that are not criminalized for other people, such as drug or alcohol abuse and mental illness. (http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/issues/unborn_victims_of_violence_act/)  Women have also been charged or jailed for murder for experiencing a stillbirth after refusing a caesarean section, or just from suffering a stillbirth. Some states have proposed punishing pregnant women in abusive relationships who are unable to leave their batterers. The worst offender is South Carolina, where nearly 100 pregnant women with drug abuse problems have been arrested under its fetal homicide law, even though they had virtually no access to drug treatment programs. Meanwhile, only one man has been arrested for killing a pregnant woman under the South Carolina law. (http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/issues/punishment_of_pregnant_women/south_carolina_leading_the_nation_in_the_prosecution_punishment.php)

10.    The bill’s exemptions for pregnant women may not work: Epp’s bill specifically exempts pregnant women from prosecution, as well as abortion. However, in the U.S., arrests of pregnant women have occurred even under state fetal homicide laws that make exemptions for the pregnant woman. For example, pregnant women with drug abuse problems have been arrested for “murdering” or “assaulting” their fetuses in Pennsylvania, Texas, Missouri, and California under “fetal homicide” or fetal protection laws that exempt pregnant women from criminal liability. Courts have so far struck down these types of prosecutions, but arrests continue based on a growing body of law declaring that fetuses have rights separate from those of pregnant women. http://www.tompaine.com/Archive/scontent/10189.htmlWomen in the U.S. have been and continue to be the primary target of “fetal homicide” laws, because these laws dehumanize pregnant women by elevating fetal rights over women’s rights. This encourages law enforcement and prosecutors to take harsh punitive action against pregnant women for perceived misconduct or illegal activities. Epp’s bill endangers women’s rights in a similar way, by setting up a legal conflict between the personhood of women and fetuses.

11.    People who help women self-abort could be prosecuted. If women try to self-abort and persuade someone to help them, the helper can be prosecuted under a fetal homicide law and suffer grave injustice. In 2005, Texas teenager Gerardo Flores (http://www.siecusdc.net/policy/PUpdates/pdate0186.html) was found guilty on two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison for helping his girlfriend end her five-month pregnancy of twins. At the time, anti-abortion legislators lamented that Texas’ law would not allow prosecution of his girlfriend, too. The desperate couple had decided to self-induce an abortion because they couldn’t get one legally – Texas had recently banned abortions after 16 weeks. This shows how fetal homicide laws can seriously impact abortion rights.

12.    Polls do not reflect justice or informed opinion: A recent poll in Canada (http://www.ccrl.ca/index.php?id=4889), commissioned by anti-abortion group LifeCanada, found that 72% of respondents support legislation that would make it a separate crime to injure or kill a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman. However, most people don’t realize there’s a hidden agenda against abortion behind the promotion of these laws, or that it could end up hurting pregnant women. The public would probably be much less willing to support a “fetal homicide” law if they understood its real effects.

13.    Victim’s families should not determine legal remedies: Some of the victims’ families have called for a “fetal homicide” law. While we deeply sympathize with them and understand their wish, it must be recognized that victims of violence are not those who should be making decisions about justice in a democratic society. Appropriate laws and penalties must be determined by impartial parties who do not allow emotion or personal bias to colour their decisions. This is done to fairly protect everyone’s democratic rights, such as the rights of the accused.

14.    We can impose harsher penalties for attacks on pregnant women: To achieve justice in these tragic cases, prosecutors can recommend more serious charges, such as first degree murder or aggravated assault. Judges may impose harsher penalties, and parole boards may deny parole to convicted perpetrators. We could even pass a law mandating greater penalties for attacks on pregnant women, as has been done in 13 U.S. states. Alternatively, harsher penalties are already mandated under the Criminal Code’s hate crime law, which would cover attacks against women because they are pregnant. Any of these measures would provide justice, while avoiding the abortion controversy and protecting the rights of all pregnant women.

For more information, see:

ARCC’s Position Paper The Case Against a Fetal Homicide Law, http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/fetal_homicide_law.html

ARCC’s Nov 23 press release: Bill to protect fetuses would hurt pregnant women: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/press/ARCC-CDAC-release-nov-23-07-english.pdf

Joyce Arthur’s op-ed piece in the National Post Nov 13: “Fetal Homicide Laws are not the Answer” http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=171ab1e2-a77b-4791-a646-0ebc27512b9a&p=1

This Talking Points document is on the Internet at http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/unborn-victims-act.htm

A Celebratory Kind of Day!

Today is the day that replaced Imbolc, an ancient celebration of the goddess, Brighid. Imbolc marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Today is the Feast Day of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  And, today is the birth day of Birth Pangs!

Last year, a group of “radical,” “militant” and “feminazi” feminists who hang out at the Bread and Roses discussion boards launched Birth Pangs, an irreverent and relevant blog that keeps a close eye on the anti-choice, aka fetus fetishist, aka compulsory pregnancy, aka zygote zealot crowd. Demonstrating that feminists do, indeed, have a sense of humour, Birth Pangs sheds a slightly satirical light on the ludicrous, illogical and just plain ridiculous arguments and ideas of those who would have women barefooted, pregnant and back in the kitchen.

Pop by for a visit. Stop in and say hi. And don’t worry, the feminists don’t bite. (Well, not very hard, anyway!)

And here’s an Imbolc poem, a gift to the scruffy band of feminists who dare to challenge and inspire.

Horoscope: Ground Hog Day

Brighid, ancient Hag,
in winter brings new life,
kindles sacred fires to melt Earth’s blanket.

She travels with you, as long ago
when she moved among Galatians and Brigantians.
Long before Patrick danced green among the Celts
Brighid quickened life.

Old Brighid, young Maiden, Mother, Crone
hides within Christianity’s cloak, blessing houses
with candles blessed at Candlemas, the cross-quarter feast day
to celebrate winter’s passing halfway through,
her fires lighting houses, whole communities.

Sainte Brighid, even after decanonization,
even after her fires were snuffed, still
lives. Christianity celebrates the purification
of their blessed virgin, Mary. A ground hog
carried Brighid’s memory across an ocean.

© 2008 BW

Proudly Prochoice

Celebrate 20 years of choiceThe 1988 Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision on R. v. Morgentaler, the decision which struck down Canada’s old abortion law, is a document well worth the time it takes to read. It provides the historical context for there being no new abortion law in Canada and it clarifies why men need to keep their laws off women’s bodies.

Chief Justice Brian Dickson, in the Majority Report, said:

Section 251 clearly interferes with a woman’s physical and bodily integrity. Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus an infringement of security of the person.Canada Celebrates 20 Years of Choice

I’m celebrating that part today. And I’m celebrating the part by the late Justice Bertha Wilson who wrote a Minority Report which took the decision of the Majority even further. She said:

This decision is one that will have profound psychological, economic and social consequences for the pregnant woman. The circumstances giving rise to it can be complex and varied and there may be, and usually are, powerful considerations militating in opposite directions. It is a decision that deeply reflects the way the woman thinks about herself and her relationship to others and to society at large. It is not just a medical decision; it is a profound social and ethical one as well. Her response to it will be the response of the whole person.

It is probably impossible for a man to respond, even imaginatively, to such a dilemma not just because it is outside the realm of his personal experience … but because he can relate to it only by objectifying it, thereby eliminating the subjective elements of the female psyche which are at the heart of the dilemma.

So there ya have it! A w00t! for Wilson! A w00t! for Morgentaler! And a w00t! for prochoicers everywhere!

Now let’s get this problem of access to the procedure sorted, please.