written by Sarah Bingham
On January 28th, 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down all legal restrictions on abortion, making it a completely legal medical procedure in this country. Now, a Conservative MP from Kitchener Centre, Stephen Woodworth, would like to overturn the Supreme Court of Canada with Motion M-312.
M-312 seeks to “establish a parliamentary committee to review the declaration in subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth.”
As the recent referendum letter sent out to local residents by Conservative MP, Scott Reid indicates, “this motion will effectively re-open the abortion debate in Canada if it passes.”
Many myths surrounding the abortion issue persist in clouding the facts.
Myth: Legalized abortion leads to an increase in the number of abortions performed. Extensive research and data collection by the internationally respected World Health Organization (WHO) prove that regions with access to legal abortion in fact have a lower rate of abortions than regions where it is restricted or illegal. This is likely due to the increased education and support in those regions on birth control and reproductive education.
Myth: Making abortions illegal or restricting access to abortion will lower the number of abortions performed. As the WHO global report, “Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Incidence, Trends, Consequences and Challenges” concludes, “Legal restrictions on safe abortion do not reduce the incidence of abortion.” Legal restrictions on abortion does not mean less abortions are performed, it only means more unsafe ones are.
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, “Unsafe abortions account for more than 70,000 maternal deaths per year and a further 5 million women to suffer temporary or permanent disability.” If Stephen Woodward has his way, Canada would add to those appalling numbers.
Myth: Motion 312 will only impact when abortions can be performed. Given the sensitive nature of this particular section of the Criminal Code of Canada, the impact of changing it is substantial. If passed, this motion would allow for the possibility that any and all miscarriages be subject to criminal investigations as manslaughter, any pregnant woman could be refused certain medical treatments and prescription medications, in addition, some fertility treatments, including in-vitro fertilization could become illegal.
Myth: Legalized abortion creates a moral climate in which terminating a pregnancy is an easy decision. The complexities and potential turmoil involved in making the decision to end a pregnancy remain with the individual woman making the decision, regardless of the wording of the law. A woman is no more or less likely to need an abortion, she is only more or less likely to be injured or killed depending on the law. Ultimately legal abortion equates to more safety while restricted and/or illegal abortion equates to more risk.
Myth: At issue is the question of when human life begins. Motion 312 is a political strategy deliberately designed to deflect attention away from the real crux of the abortion issue; women’s rights. As Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada states in a recent press release, “Granting personhood to the fetus means removing personhood from the woman.”
After a long, hard-fought battle begun by the “Famous Five”, Canadian women have been “Persons” under the law since October 18th 1929. Passing M-312 would diminish the rights of Canadian women to a degree not experienced since before WWII. Violating women’s rights is not only harmful to girls and women, it also negatively impacts all aspects of society from economic outcomes to health outcomes.
MP Scot Reid has called upon his constituents to direct him how to vote on this issue and it is critical that he hears a resounding “NO” to M-312. If you haven’t already done so, it is vitally important that you fill in your referendum ballot and mail it back as soon as possible. If you did not receive your referendum ballot please contact Phil Joannou, Communications Assistant to Scott Reid at 613-947-2277.
The vote will take place in the House of Commons on September 26th and Reid needs your input before then. Women across Canada need your support before then.
Lanark County Interval House provides extensive support for children, youth and women who experience abuse and can refer men to the appropriate resources. All the services are free and confidential and you do not need to be a resident of the shelter to access the services. LCIH also provides shelter for women and their children who have experienced physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse. Call 613-257-5960 or 1-800-267-7946 24hrs a day for any of our services.