SHOULD CANADA HAVE A LAW ON ABORTION?

As we speak, a British parliamentary committee is debating whether the upper time limit in which legal abortions are permitted in Britain, (24 weeks) should be lowered to 20 weeks.

A key issue under consideration is whether improvements in the care of extremely premature babies – those born below 24 weeks – have led to a new definition of foetal viability and whether the present 24-week limit for abortions should be lowered accordingly.

It is easy to imagine two pregnant women side by side in a maternity hospital, one giving birth to a premature baby whom doctors will do their utmost to save, the other having a similar baby destroyed in the womb, possibly by the same doctors. Incidentally, a survey of British doctors found that two out of three supported a reduction in the abortion time limit from the current 24 weeks.

What is also in play here is the public’s strong emotional response to three-dimensional pictures of babies moving in the womb. This sudden realization of what abortion is all about has persuaded some people to want to see the age limit drastically reduced, even down to 12 weeks. There seems to be a growing recognition of human solidarity between the born and the unborn.

The political debate going on in England squarely faces one of the great moral issues of our time: what is the right to life of unborn human beings?

Is there a similar debate going on about an abortion law in Canada? No and the reason is simple. We don’t have any law regulating abortion, one of the very few western jurisdictions to be without one. Theoretically, I suppose, Canadian doctors could be performing partial-birth abortions, a gruesome practice prohibited in the United States.

In your opinion, should Canada adopt some kind of law regulating abortions if only to reduce what some call the abortion holocaust?

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29 Comments »

  1. 1
    Chimera Says:

    No.

    Once it’s out of the womb, it’s a person — a separate being. Even then, it may not be viable. If not, it will die. Or someone will force it to live, despite its maybe having no chance for anything resembling a normal life.

    And I can’t help but think that premature birth is nature’s way of saying, “Oops, this one’s a mistake. Sorry. Cancel and try again.” Before we humans entered into the race of trumping nature, most preemies would not have survived, and we as a society would not be saddled with the horrendous health care expenses we’ve got.

    The right to govern what happens with one’s own body is fundamental in a free society. We’re not there, yet, but we’re working on it. And we may be light years ahead of other countries in this as long as we stay on course.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Why must we have laws on everything from abortions to publicity aimed at children? What happened to personal responsibity, morals and ethics? In Canada our Supreme Court has ruled that a foetus has no rights until it is born. The woman has a right to decide how she uses her body. We may not agree, but we have to respect the freedom given to us by our charters. Erode one freedom and the others may follow.
    What we need is not more laws it is a charter of obligations and responsibilities. When the new Juvenile Penal System Act was implemented, in St-Jérôme, north of Montreal, the Concertation Table for youth produced a card distributed to young people. On one side, in black, were the youth’s rigths under the law. On the flip side, in red, were listed his responsibilities to society.
    I wish we all had such a wallet card.

  3. 3
    SUZANNE Says:

    And I can’t help but think that premature birth is nature’s way of saying, “Oops, this one’s a mistake. Sorry. Cancel and try again.” Before we humans entered into the race of trumping nature, most preemies would not have survived, and we as a society would not be saddled with the horrendous health care expenses we’ve got.

    And you know what: disease is nature’s way of cutting people down. Why not just let people die of their diseases? That would save on healthcare costs.

    I mean really Chimera. Is human life valuable or not?

  4. 4
    SUZANNE Says:

    The woman has a right to decide how she uses her body.

    The issue is the price of that exercise of a so-called right (which it isn’t).

    Whenever an innocent human being has to die in the name of exercising a right, we limit that right in favour of the right to life.

    Basic ideas are violated when we don’t acknowledge that a fetus has a right to life. One is that all human beings intrinsically have rights. They’re inalienable. Another one is that human life is sacred.

    I am confident that some day fetal rights will be established in Canada. It’s not evident now. But just as the fall of Communism was not evident in the 1980’s, people foresaw it would fall based on its internal contradictions. In the same way, I am certain that the abortion ideology will implode because it’s based on falsehoods, biological, philosophical and moral.

  5. 5
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Suzanne has not read my last paragraph. I deeply believe that one’s liberty end’s where another’s liberty is at stake. However I am loath to impose my beliefs on others. Abortion bothers me no end…but I have grown to accept that it suits other people.
    When my direction was called upon to write our establshment’s policy on assisting abortion seeking women I insisted that it stated clearly that no practitioner should have to act against her or his conscience. But I also insisted for the person to be referred to another person willing to accompany her and not just turned away or made to hear a preach.

  6. 6
    SUZANNE Says:

    However I am loath to impose my beliefs on others.

    You seem content to let other people impose it on the unborn child, though.

    Would it bother you to impose your views on white supremacists lynching blacks?

    When my direction was called upon to write our establshment’s policy on assisting abortion seeking women I insisted that it stated clearly that no practitioner should have to act against her or his conscience. But I also insisted for the person to be referred to another person willing to accompany her and not just turned away or made to hear a preach.

    What if that is equally abhorrent to the practioner. I just could not refer a patient to someone who would help her get an abortion. It’s like say: I won’t kill your unborn child, but I’ll help you do it.

    Why doesn’t the unborn child have any liberty in this?

  7. 7

    Is personhood or the right to life established by prepositional relation or by viability? I don’t see why that would be the case. I do think the right to life ought to be protected by law, even in cases where the existence of the right to life is in some doubt or disagreement. That said, I think that legislation is the primary solution to the problems of and surrounding abortion.

  8. 8
    Deepthinker Says:

    This is an issue that is truly worth thinking about in a logical way. I agree with Paul as a Libertarian about defending the rights of every person. I say that we do not need a law on Abortion. Why is that, Suzanne? Well the reason is that it is already covered in current criminal law that applies to everyone else. What is the real issue and what is it that I feel should happen on this issue? Well it relates to exactly what Chimera said “Once it’s out of the womb, it’s a person…”

    My question to that statement is why? As was stated very well in the National Post today when Walter Szetela, Professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia stated to a commentor from London, ON “In describing a fetus as a ‘mass of human tissue,’ Mr. armstrong evidently rejects the science of developing human life, or he believes in instant miracles, as this ‘mass of tissue’ miraculously ‘becomes a person when it is born.’ ” This begs the question relating to when is a person?

    The issue is with our descriminating legislation within the criminal code section 223 (1) which states:

    223. (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not

    (a) it has breathed;

    (b) it has an independent circulation; or

    (c) the navel string is severed.

    This is interesting becuase on what scientific, philisophic or legal basis do they make this law for?

    If one thinks, the question is does the child change at all physically in the second before its head leaves the mothers womb? Rationale people would say no! The child under this law does not have to breathe, have their umbillical cord cut or even be INDEPENDENT of the mother. Thus the question is raised why are people being discriminated against. I do not want an abortion law in this country. I want this section of the criminal code changed as IT IS unconstitutional.

    The debate should NOT be around is an abortion law right. The debate should be around is Section 223(1) of the criminal code right! If someone would like to debate that it sounds good to me!

    Is so please tell me, why birth? Why is a person a person because of where they are located? That is all the law says, where you are located decides whether you are human. Using that logic am I not a person because I live in a different country? Am I less of a person because I live down the street? When we start defining Personhood based on geography I think we have a problem.

    We must always remember that:

    “In the eyes of the law…the slave in not a person.”
    Virginia Supreme Court Decision, 1858

    “An Indian is not a person within the meaning of the Constitution”
    George Canfield
    American Law Review, 1881

    “The statutory word ‘person’ did not in these circumstances include women.”
    British Vorting Rights Case, 1909

    “The Reichsgericht itself refused to recognize Jews…as ‘persons’ in the legal sense.”
    German Supreme Court decision, 1936

    “The Law of Canada does not recognize the unborn child as a legal person possessing rights.”
    Canadian Supreme Court
    Winnipeg Child and Family Services Case, 1997

    Sometimes the most Important lessons take the longest to learn! ”

    So who are the progressive ones? Who are the authoritarians?

  9. 9
    SUZANNE Says:

    Maybe the question should have been: do we need a fetal rights law in this country?

  10. 10

    do we need a fetal rights law in this country?

    I think Suzanne nailed it there. Let’s get away from ‘abortion’ talk, which always dredges up animosity on both sides. Let’s talk about what value if any we put on human life, and what we want to do to protect it.

  11. 11
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Why is a person a person because of where they are located?”

    Because that “location” is in another person’s stomach!! It’s not like saying ‘you are a person in Ottawa, but not in Kingston’ – it’s in a woman’s stomach, and as much as you might not accept it this woman has right’s too.

    “Let’s talk about what value if any we put on human life, and what we want to do to protect it.”

    I disagree… because talking about the “value of human life” does nothing for people like me – who don’t believe the fetus deserves THAT title. As 223(1) says.

  12. 12

    Because that “location” is in another person’s stomach!!

    Food is located in stomachs; not unborn children.

  13. 13
    Chimera Says:

    “I mean really Chimera. Is human life valuable or not?”

    As opposed to…what? Are you gonna start deliberately confusing a noun with an adjective again?

    Yes, disease is nature’s way of culling the herd and eliminating those who are not strong enough to thrive. It’s not a morality thing. It’s a fact-of-life thing. Survival of the fittest, and all that. When we insist on “saving” a life from disease by artificial methods, we might be doing a good thing for the individual, but we are not doing any favors for the species. What we are in fact doing is weakening the genetic structure of humans and allowing them to pass the weak genes on to their offspring. We will kill ourselves off with our own frantic efforts to overpopulate the earth.

    But back to the topic. What Paul said is correct: “We may not agree, but we have to respect the freedom given to us by our charters. Erode one freedom and the others may follow.”

    And if you don’t agree with abortion, you don’t have to have one. But you are not allowed to abrogate the right of a woman not to have her body used in a way with which she does not agree. Forcing an unwilling woman to remain pregnant is slavery.

  14. 14
    Wayne Says:

    Chimera

    And I can’t help but think that premature birth is nature’s way of saying, “Oops, this one’s a mistake. Sorry. Cancel and try again.”

    If one can induce birth with known environmental stimuli, namely chemicals and physical violence, is that nature’s way of saying “Hey mom, even if you want the child, someone else has the right to decide that? No mistake.”

    If an average fetus can survive after x number of weeks outside the womb, why not give that fetus rights after that point?

    Wayne

  15. 15
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “If an average fetus can survive after x number of weeks outside the womb, why not give that fetus rights after that point?”

    Because it is in a woman’s body – and this woman has rights. That’s as much as they deserve. They’re just an extention of the woman until they are born – and I believe it’s the woman’s rights that are important.

  16. 16
    Chimera Says:

    Not only what Joe said, but there is no way to predict viability even after birth. Lots of infants die for no apparent reason. Doctors have a technical name for it. They call it “failure to thrive.”

  17. 17
    SUZANNE Says:

    They’re not an extension of the woman. That’s a biological lie. The pregnancy is practically self-contained and the fetus has his own DNA.

  18. 18
    Chimera Says:

    If the fetus is not an extension of the woman, then why not gestate it outside the body that doesn’t want it? I’d vote for that.

  19. 19
    SUZANNE Says:

    A fetus needs the womb to survive. A fetus is no more an extension of the woman’s body than a flea is an extension of a dog.

  20. 20

    We born folk are entirely dependent for our continued life on the air we breath, the water we drink, and other nourishments from the womb of this world.

  21. 21
    Chimera Says:

    “A fetus needs the womb to survive.”

    And the womb belongs to a woman — someone who may or may not consent to its being used.

    Find a way to gestate the fetus without encroaching on someone’s body, and I’ll support you.

  22. 22
    Chimera Says:

    Kyle, we do not inhabit the Mother’s womb — we live on her surface. And every once in awhile, when we get flea-ish, she scratches.

  23. 23

    While every metaphor conceals what it reveals, it remains true that we are entirely dependent upon the environment on, below, and above the earth. Sunlight, gravity, etc. must all be present and in a particular way for life to exist on this planet. The womb of the world is not merely the earth; it is the universe. Our being a part of the universe, within it, and totally dependent on it for life, does not diminish our individuality or dignity. Nor do I see that the unborn life within and dependent upon the mother’s womb is any less an individual or a dignified human life for that.

    Does the mother have rights to which society should respond? Absolutely, and in America at least those rights are not adequatley being met. But I don’t see that the unborn life within her womb is merely a part of her body over which she has absolute authority to nourish or destroy at will. The life within her, the other within her, obligates not only her respect and life-affirming response, but also the respect, response, and assistance of society. We are all our brother’s keeper.

  24. 24
    SUZANNE Says:

    And the womb belongs to a woman — someone who may or may not consent to its being used.

    But in every case someone needs a thing that belongs to someone else, and its absence would cause death, we recognize the argument by necessity.

    Suppose, for instance, I own a respirator. And someone stole my respirator to keep someone else alive. Would I have the right to take that respirator– assuming it would not be in use otherwise?

    Or suppose my daughter was dying of a blood disease. And I refused to give blood to save my own daughter’s life (for no strongly compelling reason)– wouldn’t Child Protection step in at that point? I should hope so.

    We recognize that there are reasons to compell people to help others stay alive.

  25. 25
    Chimera Says:

    Kyle, see my reply to Suzanne, above. When you are able to separate gestation from the encroachment upon a person’s body without permission, then maybe I’ll see the fetal rights thing as having legs. But as long as it takes the use of an individual’s body to gestate the thing, my view on it is that you need to have her unqualified support and permission. If a woman does not wish to lend her body to the process of pregnancy, she should not have to be forced into it.

    We humans have absolutely no respect as a species for any other living thing around us. Protestation and actions of a few individuals aside, we are bent on destroying our own environment. We have no respect for our mother earth. We have no respect for the water, or the air. We are even talking about turning our orbit into a giant dumpsite! We’re running out of places on earth to put all our garbage, so we’re planning on sending it into space!

    When this species of ours learns the true meaning of “respect,” and actually begins to practise what it preaches, maybe then we can all be our brothers’ keepers. At least then perhaps we will have earned the right. But until we respect the right of the individual to govern the uses of her own body, nobody should be using the term “respect” to prop up an anti-choice campaign.

  26. 26
    Chimera Says:

    “Would I have the right to take that respirator…”

    Yes. You would have the right. Whether or not you exercise that right is up to you — your choice.

    “wouldn’t Child Protection step in at that point?”

    Yes, very likely they would. And they would remove your choice from you and your daughter. What if this were also your daughter’s wish, though? What if she did not want the blood? What if you were both Jehovah’s Witnesses, both adult, and both making an informed, educated decision? Do you honestly feel that anyone has the right to force you both to participate in something you feel is wrong?

    “We recognize that there are reasons to compell people to help others stay alive.”

    You could substitute “force” for “help” and it would be closer to the truth. Not everyone feels this way. As a society, we seem to be bent on telling everyone else how to live their lives while our own lives go to hell in that well-known handbasket.

  27. 27
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Suppose, for instance, I own a respirator. And someone stole my respirator to keep someone else alive. Would I have the right to take that respirator– assuming it would not be in use otherwise?”

    In this case you have every right to take your respirator back… I wouldn’t necessarilly agree with your decision – but it is your right.

    “Or suppose my daughter was dying of a blood disease. And I refused to give blood to save my own daughter’s life (for no strongly compelling reason)– wouldn’t Child Protection step in at that point? I should hope so.”

    I should hope not! It’s YOUR blood and nobody should have to right to compell you to donate it!

  28. 28
    John Says:

    When we link the discussion of when human life begins to a discussion of the rights of another human life, we render the discussion a philosophical one rather than a scientific one. Although this may be the correct sphere in which to discuss one’s rights, I still think it is the wrong one in which to discuss one’s beginnings.

  29. 29
    Chimera Says:

    John, the only way we’d be able to separate the two is to find a way to gestate a fetus outside the body of the woman. So, while I agree with your first statement, I think there is no current solution for the dilemna you posit in your second statement.


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