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15 May 2008 @ 11:40 pm
BILL C-484  
Alright, so all you Canadians who believe in womens' rights need to read this. In case you don't already know what Bill C-484 is, you should read about it here.

1. It threatens women's human rights and equality.
In Canadian law, only "human beings" have a right to life. Legally, a fetus becomes a human being once it is born and has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother. In all the cases in which the Supreme Court of Canada was required to discuss the rights of the unborn, it ruled that the fetus is an intergral part of the mother and has no independant legal personhood. The adoption of Bill C-484 would introduce a huge change in our law: it would in effect recognize that a fetus has legal status and the "right to life."
This would set a dangerous constitutional precedent that could place a fetus' rights in competition with those of its mother, undermining women's rights in the process. The right to choose to end an unwanted pregnancy, and to have access to quality public health care abortion services goes to the heart of women's equality, dignity and human rights.

2. It could criminalize pregnant women.
As the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has pointed out, under United States 'fetal homicide' laws, pregnant women are more likely to be punished for behavious and conditions that are not criminalized for other people, such as drug users or alcohol use. Women have been charged or jailed for murder for experiencing a stillbirth after refusing a Caesarean section. In South Carolina, dozens of women with drug addictions have been arrested for alledgedly harming their fetuses- even though they had little or no access to drug treatment programs. These policies unfairly target the most disadvantaged women in society, who are often already victimes of discrimination and prejudice.
Bill C-484 contains language that theoretically preserves a woman's right to choose to end an unwanted pregnancy. However, similar language has been disregarded by US courts, which have used fetal rights laws as precedents to charge pregnant women with child abuse and murder. Many of these charges were later thrown out of court, but not before poor and drug-addicted women were forced to spend months and years in prison fighting unjust charges.

3. It is a part of a broader legislative strategy to undermine abortion rights.
Just take a look at who supports Bill C-484: dozens of anti-choice organizations including Life Canada, REAL Women and the Canadian Family Action Coalition, who have been spending the last 20 years trying to undermine Candian women's right to choose. In the US, the anti-choice lobby has used a similar strategy to enact a patchwork of laws that recognize fetal rights, building a series of precendents that could be used to challenge a woman's right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

4. It will do nothing to address the real problem: spousal violence.
Studies on violence against women indicate that it is often when women are pregnant that men start to abuse them. And most women who are killed in Canada, are murdered by their husband or common law partner. Violence against women is the real problem that needs to be addressed. The federal government should be examining how to effectively prevent spousal violence, and protect women who are in abusive situations. The current system is not working well, and the government should consult with womens' rights advocates and the anti-violence workers on how to improve the criminal law response. it should also provide increased funding for services, and ensure that a social safety net is in place so that women are not forced to choose between remaining in violent relationships and living in poverty. Promoting women's equality and human rights is the best way to protect pregnant women.

5. We already have better ways to punish crimes against pregnant women- without putting their rights at stake.
Bill C-484 is actually not useful, nor is it necessary because Canada's justice system already allows for harsher penalties for aggravated crimes. In particular, spousal violence is already considered an aggravating factor in the Criminal Code sentencing provisions. In addition, judges already recognize pregnancy as an aggravating factor in sentencing. Since murder sentences are generally served "concurrently", meaning that a person will serve all sentences at the same time and not one after the other, this bill would have little or no concrete impact on the amount of time that a perpetrator spends in jail. This bill does nothing more than promote a right "law and order" agenda, that is not in women's best interest.

From the PSAC.

Do everyone a favour, and write your MP a letter urging them to vote against Bill C-484. Here is a link for you to access your MP and Party Leaders' email to let them know how you feel about this.
feeling: aggravatedaggravated
bunny_tsukino on May 16th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC)
My MP is a complete twat. Look at the fiasco in my area (Caledonia) and you'll see. Writing her, and all other people in our government hasn't worked for me yet, and I've tried!