The Conservative Party has opened a phenomenal new front in its proxy war against abortion. The new argument isn’t that we should revisit the meaning of life under the Criminal Code, or that we should ban sex-selective abortions. They’ve apparently given up on those fights in favour of a worse one: the RCMP should prosecute, as murder, medically necessary abortions. Not elective abortions, apparently. Just medically necessary ones.
This incredibly screwed-up Stone Age nonsense originates, ironically, in Canada’s lack of abortion legislation. Following Canadian Medical Association guidelines, generally speaking, you cannot get an elective abortion in Canada after 20 weeks. You can, however, get a late-term abortion in extreme circumstances: either because the fetus is seriously or fatally compromised, or because the life of the mother is at risk.
Which leads us to the Conservative claim. They can’t ban elective abortion in Canada because the Supreme Court of Canada has said that abortion is a woman’s right. They do, however, argue that if the fetus emerges from the mother alive (for however brief a time), and then dies, which could potentially happen in the event of a late-term abortion, then that counts as murder. I should stress: as I understand Canadian medical practice, these are not elective abortions that we’re talking about. The Conservatives really are arguing that a doctor who attempts to save the life of a pregnant woman by conducting a late-term abortion are committing murder. In the letter, they actually request that the RCMP immediately commence investigations leading to prosecutions on murder charges.
This is an obscene position to take. It puts the RCMP in an exceedingly difficult position, although it’s a safe bet they won’t be opening any such investigation. The Conservatives who wrote this letter don’t even have any evidence that deaths, let alone murders, have occurred. What they have found is a line item in a Statistics Canada report which counts the number of fetuses who are reported by hospitals to have died during late-term abortions.
I think the Conservatives should have stuck with their original idea: having a debate about the “origin of life.” I very much look forward to having this debate, because it’s one that young-Earth creationists with paleolithic moral codes won’t win. Notice, however, that the Conservatives no longer want to have a discussion or a debate. Instead, they’ve jumped straight to demanding that the police step in and start arresting people.
And some people wonder why the fact that these clowns are in the majority makes me worried.
Oh, Stephen Harper knew about this all right. The gentlemen behind the call for murder prosecutions are sitting Conservative MPs who are advocating illegal and unconstitutional action on the thinnest of pretexts. If the head of the Conservative Party really didn’t want the Conservative brand associated with this sort of filth, he could very easily resolve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction.
Hilariously, it seems that the authors are already having second thoughts. One of them, Leon Benoit, now says that he got the letter over the Christmas holidays, didn’t really read it before signing it, and in retrospect may not want to be associated with it after all. Yikes. Is this the level of credibility we should assign to all of his letters? What about his votes in the House of Commons?
Update: Since I’m such a harsh critic when I feel they fall short, it’s worth noting that the Globe’s editorial board has done the right thing by immediately and decisively coming out on the right side of this stupidity:
Mr. Vellacott and his two allies have failed to take into account that, in Canada, abortion is not covered by the Criminal Code. The Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that using the threat of criminal sanction to force a woman to carry a child to term is a violation of her constitutional right to security of the person… The Mounties don’t exist to do what the government has been unable, or afraid, to do legislatively.
I could not have said it better myself. Thank you, Globe & Mail, for that. Constitutional rights are involved here, which is why, like all cases where politicians propose blatant violations of the Constitution, this idiotic scheme must be squashed from the get-go.Tweet