Repeat: The Conservatives aren’t social

MP Stephen Woodworth is proof the Conservatives have moved on

by Martin Patriquin

In honour of apparently undead Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’s zombie-like resurfacing in the House today to defend his ridiculous and backward attempt to have fetuses classified as human beings, here is the  money graph from Government Whip Gordon O’Connor’s repudiation last April of Woodworth’s motion:

Abortion is a very serious and long-lasting decision for women, and I want all women to continue to live in a society in which decisions on abortion can be made, one way or the other, with advice from family and a medical doctor and without the threat of legal consequences. I do not want women to go back to the previous era where some were forced to obtain abortions from illegal and medically dangerous sources. This should never happen in a civilized society.

So, can we finally admit that Woodworth is clearly an embarrassment to his party? Can we put an end to the argument, favoured by certain members of the left, who say the Harper government is a Trojan Horse for the social conservative movement? Can we finally start saying that this “pro-life” faction is actually just a splinter group of disgruntled Reform Party holdovers who actually have very little sway within the only party that will have them? Can we say that, while there are Harper government initiatives that certainly deserves criticism and derision, its decidedly reasoned take on social issues isn’t among them?

And, while we’re at it, can we hope that the next time Woodworth brings his noise, he finds someone qualified to talk about abortion—you know, like an actual woman?




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Repeat: The Conservatives aren’t social

  1. We can say that unless you live in Africa the CPC probably won’t stop you from having an abortion. We can say all parties have a pro-life faction but the largest is within the CPC. We can say that with constant vigilance the right to an abortion will probably remain intact under any party but the greatest risk is with the CPC.

    • To be fair, the CPC won’t stop you from having an abortion if you live in Africa (though local laws might) they just won’t provide funding that might go towards the abortions of people who live in Africa.

      It may be a bit of a subtle distinction, and there’s merit to criticizing their actual stance on funding, but imho it’s nonetheless unfair to suggest that the CPC is stopping people in Africa from having abortions.

      • You’re not wrong, although you could also say it comes close to with-holding funding where abortions are involved, creating a co-ercive barrier to abortion for the some of the world’s most disadvantaged women.

  2. “… ridiculous and backward attempt to have fetuses classified as human beings …”

    I am curious to know what fetuses are if not human beings. Also, there would be more women to talk about evils of abortion if living could talk to dead.

    NY Times ~ 160 Million and Counting:

    In 1990, the economist Amartya Sen published an essay in The New York Review of Books with a bombshell title: “More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing.” His subject was the wildly off-kilter sex ratios in India, China and elsewhere in the developing world.

    The essay did not mention abortion.

    Twenty years later, the number of “missing” women has risen to more than 160 million, and a journalist named Mara Hvistendahl has given us a much more complete picture of what’s happened. Her book is called “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.” As the title suggests, Hvistendahl argues that most of the missing females weren’t victims of neglect. They were selected out of existence, by ultrasound technology and second-trimester abortion.

    • a fetus is to a baby as dough is to bread. it’s there, all the particles are aligned, but the basic functions that make it it’s final form are not fulfilled. a fetus is not able to eat or breath on it’s own, and you can’t butter floppy dough.
      in regards to your millions of missing women argument – i appreciate you trying to subvert feminist thought to reach your conclusion. but us feminists aren’t looking to be stronger, more powerful, make up more of the population than men do (in countries without wide-spread sex-selective abortions, women almost always outnumber men), we simply want an equal shot of having what men can have. abortion is a valuable tool to this end. when it comes to human life, quality is always more important than quantity. the areas of the world where sex-selective abortions exist have virtually no impact on north american practices. where it is practiced, there would need to be a lot more reform to end sex-selective abortions, which would stem directly from social understandings of men being better than woman. so in the fight to end sex-selective abortions, the first step would be to get females on par with males in the greater social world. this includes allowing women to decide how much they’re worth – are they going to be a drag on their spouse by having unwanted children? are they going to give birth out of wedlock, destined to never marry and supporting a child on the meagerest of pay? or should we encourage the women of india, for example, to make the choices necessary to ensure that they can provide for themselves and their family, making them more powerful as individuals? i think you’d see that when dowries and namesake heirs are less important, so will be having sons.

      • My opinion (and that’s all it is) is that right after conception you have a collection of cells that do not constitute a human being. OTOH, right before birth (assuming a full term pregnancy), what you have is indeed a human being (note that it is able to eat and breath on its own at this point, it’s just that it doesn’t until it’s birthed). And, somewhere between conception and birth, the fetus becomes a human being. Can’t say exactly at what point, and I imagine anything that anyone comes up with would be arbitrary to some degree.

        I’d also note that although the laws of other industrialized countries probably do not refer to a fetus becoming a human being prior to birth, these countries do in fact impose time limits on when abortions can be performed. For example, according to Wikipedia (yeah, I know) in Sweden “up until the end of the eighteenth week of the pregnancy the choice of an abortion is entirely up to the woman”. In Norway it’s “abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks, between the 13th and 18th week abortion by commission approval on medical, eugenic, criminal, humanitarian, or social reasons. After the 13th week of gestation, abortion is in principle outlawed except under exceptional circumstances”.

        In contrast, Canada has no law (thus making it out of step with other industrialized countries), theoretically allowing abortion on demand right up to the point of birth.

        So my opinion (again that’s all it is), is that those who support abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy are no less unreasonable than those who would have an absolute prohibition on abortion at any stage of pregnancy. And I’d guess both groups are being guided by their dogmas, religious in one case, political in the other. This is one area where the Europeans do seem to have struck a reasonable balance.

        • Bravo. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

        • Very well said.
          As the father of a beautiful girl who was born prematurely, I can say with some authority that by 30 weeks most fetuses are very much human beings. Although I have always considered myself to be pro-choice, it is disturbing to me that it is perfectly legal in this country to abort a fetus that would be a perfectly viable and healthy child outside of the womb.

          • Um….that’s because it’s no longer a foetus, but a preemie. The baby is viable. This is not an abortion, it’s a live birth.

          • @EmilyOne – yes, I agree. My point is that in many cases the only difference between a healthy preemie and a dead fetus is that in one case there was a c-section and in the other there was an abortion. 5 seconds before either procedure the fetus was in exactly the same position. I find it odd that the abortion debate is so taboo in Canada that we cannot even discuss this type of situation without people losing their minds.

          • No, they don’t do abortions on a viable birth. Any baby aborted at that stage is either stillborn, or has severe medical problems that cannot be fixed….like a brain outside the body.

            It’s why late-term abortions are so rare

          • I’m afraid that is not true. In Canada there is no law on abortion whatsoever, and it is perfectly legal to get an abortion any time up to 1 second prior to birth. You are probably correct that this does not happen often, but of course we don’t know because hospitals will not release proper statistics, and the government has now made sure this type of information cannot be accessed through an FOI request.
            The point is: you can definately get an abortion on a viable birth.

          • she didn’t say it was illegal – she said it never happens. This is in fact the case. Doctors won’t do it.

          • And what would they do with the baby? Let it sit around till it starves to death? Sneak in diapers? Let a cleaner take it home?

            Let’s be serious.

          • anyone who is having a third-trimester abortion is likely in a really bad place. at this point, her day to day contacts know she’s pregnant, her body has been transformed. if she’s aborting when a viable fetus could be supported outside of her, then i think she deserves our sympathy as clearly her life situation is in dire straights. or the fetus isn’t viable.

            as emilyone mentioned it’s not illegal but even legal procedures have regulations attached to them. doctors take oaths that require them to do as much as they can to make and keep a certain quality of life. if a doctor has to abort a later term fetus so the mother can live, then it’s the mother the doctor will focus on. if a woman is two weeks away from delivery, she’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would abort for her. i would imagine if there’s a chance she’d stab herself in the stomach or something, they would look at their options.

          • And yet just about every other liberal democracy in the world does feel the need to have a law in place to address this situation. What do we know that the Swedes and Norwegians don’t?

          • What is this? We can’t make decisions for ourselves? There’s a requirement to groupthink?

            Are we required to do what the Swedish and Norwegians do???

          • When I see an outlier, I look for a reason for it to be in that position. So far I can’t see a logical reason for Canada to be an outlier w.r.t. this issue.

            This is especially so given we’re comparing Canada against countries that are usually considered to be more liberal/progressive/feminist/etc than us.

          • There are over 200 countries in the world…..no two are alike.

            We are more progressive than Sweden and Norway on several fronts. In fact if you’d read Stieg Larsson’s trilogy [Girl with the dragon tattoo, etc] you’d regard Sweden as quite barbaric.

            Plus, there are changes occurring in the world consciousness all the time…..within 20 years, nations that ban abortion or gay marriage etc will be the outliers.

          • What’s unique about Canada to explain this difference from the other liberal democracies?

          • practical experience with having our abortion laws struck down. it worked and is working just fine. Just because others do something is no reason to do something when the evidence shows not doing it is working.

          • What’s the objective measure used to say it’s working as is? AFAICT that’s just an opinion, same as it’s just an opinion to say Canada does need a law.

            And, FWIW, I do believe that polls (sorry, can’t cite any) show that the majority of Canadians reject the positions held by those on either extreme end of the spectrum of this argument and would prefer something in the mushy middle.

          • The evidence is zero abortions performed in the final few days of preganciea – the extremely difficult last minute cases even have to be sent to the US becaue our doctors don’t do em. Don’t like it don’t get an abortion, but stay away from everyone else’s womb.

            We’re doing perfectly. Again if the anti forces want to change that it should come with a heavy heavy price.

          • Apparently lumping everyone who disagrees with your position as the “anti-forces” incorrectly implies that there are only 2 possibilities:
            1) abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy, or
            2) a blanket prohibition on abortion

            Europe shows us that there are far more possibilities.

          • ??? I just got through saying 200 countries, 200 ways of doing things.

            What’s unique about Norway to have created their prison system?

          • Does Norway’s prison system stand out from every other liberal democracy’s prison system in the way that Canada’s lack of an abortion law does?

            If you can’t provide any reasoning for Canada to be different w.r.t. this issue other than a variation of the vague “we’re all different”, then that’s just the way it is.

          • Yes, it does. And these things depends on a lot of variables….history, culture, the way a subject goes down at the time….

            Or maybe we’re smarter. LOL

          • Quite sure that we don’t ‘know’ anything that the Swedes and Norwegians don’t also ‘know’.

            It seems that the basic reason that those two countries have abortion laws is that over the last century or so they had political parties that were willing to enact ever more liberal abortion laws – they kept up with what the majority (presumably) of the citizens were/are willing to support.

            In Canada we have not had political parties that were willing to enact ever more liberal abortion laws. Instead it fell to individuals to go to court, which resulted in the old law being struck down. And even then political parties would sooner live with the status quo rather than propose or enact legislation.

          • I suppose my final point on this topic is this: I really think we should decide as a society if it is acceptable for a fetus that would be fully viable outside the womb (i.e. a living, breathing, healthy baby) can be aborted without any legal restrictions whatsoever. People have pointed – fairly – to the fact that this type of thing is not easy to get done and probably doesn’t happen very often. But surely that is not the standard we should look to adopt. Either it is a subject worthy of legal regulation or it isn’t. In my view it is.
            Thanks to all for your insight on this difficult topic.

          • Fortunately, that’s a decision we get to decide as individuals. Those who disagree can govern themselves accordingly on this difficult topic.

          • You can say that in some cases they can be born without further lasting medical problems, and that’s about it.

          • Depending on exactly when they are born, preemies usually have few if any long lasting medical problems (though certainly they are at higher risk for some conditions). But I’m not sure what that has to do with my comment.

          • you said you could “say with authority” they were very much human. I corrected you.

        • I’d be prepared to disallow abortion within the last few days before predicted birth if the anti-crowd were to make heavy concessions like a constitutional right, guaranteed funding, and a guarantee the law could never be changed. Since in practical reality the law works perfectly while giving the final say to a woman and her doctor, there’s little impetus for change.

          • There is no abortion law in Canada.

            So I’d ask, don’t you find it odd that unlike just about every other (all other?) liberal democracy in the world, Canada is alone in being in that situation?

          • Not at all. It ain’t broke so no use “fixing” it.

  3. If only women can talk about abortion, what qualifies you to write this article?

    • his last line reflects how frequently women aren’t given a chance to speak on a decidedly feminine issue. i appreciate discussion from all sides, but these are people without horses in the race, so to speak. it’s not something that will impact them the way that it would a woman.

  4. There are enough pro-lifers in the Conservative caucus that if they really wanted to get this through they could hold up a confidence vote like the budget until it was included…

    Interesting times, that would be

  5. In the US…after Reagan, Bush Sr and Bush Jr….20 years of rightwing Repubs….they haven’t banned abortion either. Nor do they intend to.

    It’s there to wind up the rubes, and get out the vote…..nothing more.

  6. To get back to the actual topic…..Harper’s party is still a mix of PC and Reform, with Reform being a mix of CHP and SoCred. [neither of whom can get elected on their own, so they are hanging on to Con coattails]

    PC’s know SoCon views won’t work in Canada, and so far they’ve managed to keep Harper away from that dark corner. So has Laureen.

    Doesn’t mean that many of them aren’t devout SoCons, and ready to push such an agenda at a moment’s notice.

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