‘MPs had just taken themselves out of the game’

by Aaron Wherry

Liberal MP John McKay laments the defeat of Motion 312.

As MPs exited the Chamber after the crushing defeat of M-312 (a motion to Study Canada’s 400 Year Old Definition of a Human Being), I was struck by the sombre atmosphere. Usually MPs are quite chatty and boisterous after votes as they head off to various receptions, meetings, etc.; not so on Wednesday night. It was as if someone had died. In fact, I said to a colleague it was like exiting a funeral. Conversation was muted. The shrillness that characterized the debate was silenced. Maybe someone or something did die, and MPs inadvertently reflected it in their demeanor…

Parliament was asked to speak, and it refused. Maybe at some level the sombre atmosphere exiting the Chamber reflected more than merely friends and colleagues being at odds with each other. Maybe it reflected on the realization that MPs had just taken themselves out of the game. Canadians should be entitled to a mature and civilized rights dialogue.




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‘MPs had just taken themselves out of the game’

  1. “Canadians should be entitled to a mature and civilized rights dialogue.”

    Doesn’t this just hit the nail on the head. Human rights should not be open to debate.

    At least he admits it’s a game.

    • If they weren’t open to debate and dialog, we’d still have child labour, women would still not be allowed to vote, etc., etc.

      All of our forward progress has come through debate and dialog – including how we define human rights. You sound remarkably like Emily in the above statement – pontificating and deciding for the rest of the world based on your own world view.

      You are usually better than that.

      • We had this discussion and decision years ago in Canada….as usual you are still wanting to ramble on about it.

      • Ok, settled human rights should not be open to debate.

        Should we open a debate about womens’ right to vote? How about a dialog about racial equality?

        • Women’s right to choose is one thing – and while some say it has been settled, I’d argue that the lack of any law means not that it is settled but that politicians are too scared to broach the issue because the populace is still so divided.

          I see pro-choicers who are unwilling to have this properly legislated as cowards unsure of the rightness of their own position.

          But as far as rights issues go, the rights I’m concerned about are those of the unborn. Anyone who thinks one’s rights at a given gestational age should be determined solely by which side of the uterine wall one is on is a complete and utter fool.

          As I have set out here on countless occasions, it is possible to grant rights to the unborn without infringing on the reproductive rights of women. It is a simple matter of primacy of rights: where the rights of mother and child clash while the child is still in the womb, the mother’s rights trump.

          These are the rights I am willing to fight for. I’m looking to advance human rights. Why are you so set on holding them back?

          • “I see pro-choicers who are unwilling to have this properly legislated as cowards…”

            “Anyone who thinks… is a complete and utter fool.”

            Hey – grow up. Stop the name-calling.

            “…unsure of the rightness of their own position.”

            Nope. But we know how this game is played: start with any toehold, no matter how tiny. Maybe just restrict abortions in the last few weeks of gestation. Or maybe just restrict abortions under some circumstances, such as sex-selection. Who could disagree with either of those restrictions? And they’re so vanishingly rare that the impact will be next to nil.

            And then the real game begins:

            - Roll back “the last few weeks of gestation” to the last trimester and beyond.
            - Ban abortions undertaken for other reasons beyond sex selection.
            - Make access to abortion harder, slower, require multiple peoples’ input.
            - Require the signature of a parent, the father, etc.
            - Force the woman listen to a doctor read scripted lies about the dangers of abortion.
            - Limit services to certain geographies.
            - Make a one-day wait between consultation and the procedure so women from out of town have to pay for a hotel room.

            And on and on forever. This is exactly what has happened in the US. Why would women walk into this trap by engaging in new abortion laws? How stupid do you think people are?

            You can’t point to any tangible reason why a law is required. On one hand, you claim to want to “advance” human rights. But you claim that the new fetal rights will be trumped by the rights of the mother. Human rights don’t work that way. Surely you know that – if a fetus is declared human, with human rights, those rights cannot remain secondary to the rights of the woman.

            The pro-life crowd hasn’t earned the trust required to engage in a discussion like this. Right now, an abortion decision is between a woman and her doctor. Any change to that will be the beginning of a slippery slope.

          • The name-calling is deserved; I’ve seen plenty of the more rabid pro-choicers do plenty of name calling; some of it aimed at me because I think we are better with a law than without.

            You can’t point to any tangible reason why a law is required.

            So despite your earlier claim, advancement of human rights are not part of your agenda. Good to know.

            When you start thinking clearly, you will come to realize that we often have clashes between human rights. When that happens, one must win out.

            In this instance, I am proposing the law state clearly that the woman’s right to choose remain paramount because she has already proven herself to be a viable life (something that is not guaranteed for the life in her womb) and is the host life. Further, if the woman does not want to carry the child, forcing her to do so would be tantamount to mental cruelty.

            It is an argument easily made, and one I’m confident he courts would support.

            So the solution is not to try to hide from the debate but to get a major party or parties to adopt this as part of their platform. That’s being proactive.

            You may never be able to end this debate; the country is too divided. But you stand a better chance of getting what you want by having a clear law than by having none.

            And BTW, this isn’t the US.

          • Keith, if you could just point to instances where you fears are confirmed, a law might be necessary but there really is no proof that there are sex-selection abortions occuring in Canadian hospitals. Further, there is no indication that any Canadian licensed physicians are performing late-term abortions unless they are absolutely necessary for the health of the mother. If you have a law, then you force physicians to go to court to challenge these laws and prove when an abortion is necessary for the health of a mother. It will be the same ugly things that occur when physicians go to court to have people taken off life-support. They almost always win the cases because those fighting against them are misinformed and very emotional.

          • No clue where you got these topics from what I wrote. They are so far out of he realm f what I’m talking about as to make me wonder if you read my comments at all.

            Go back and take another look.

            My concern is, and has always been, that if the mother has decided to go forward with the pregnancy that the child should then be afforded certain legal protections, esp in the third trimester, that would be roughly equivalent to that of a preemie.

            No change whatsoever to the woman’s rights but adding protections for the child against deliberate or negligent harm while in utero.

            That’s what I mean by Primacy of Rights – we acknowledge that both lives have rights but that whenever the rights conflict while the child is in the womb, the woman’s always trumps.

            I’ve explained all this many many times. How you could have read any of my posts on this and still posted the reply you did is beyond baffling.

          • Keith…should a mother go forward with a pregnancy, a “fetus” is not even viable outside the womb until at least 23 weeks and that is not without severe interventions. What I am saying to you is that NO physicians in this country at doing third trimester abortions at the WHIM of mothers because it would be VERY dangerous to the mother. Rather, those abortions are done because the mother is in danger. Just because they are legal, doesn’t mean they are happening. We have hospital boards and physicians who have taken an oath to do no harm. People are making all sorts of accusations and yet even when it comes down to the sex-selection abortions, the truth is that they are likely occuring in the US.
            As for protections for the fetus in utero. You are counting your chickens before they are hatched. That fetus is not a human until it comes out of the womb and draws breath. How many times has the cord wrapped around a fetus’ neck and the fetus has died at 8 months gestational. You want the fetus to have the same rights as a living, breathing human? What so the father of the fetus can argue and get a court order for the doctor to save his baby over the life of the mother?

          • You are either deliberately missing the point I’m making, or incapable of understanding it.

            I have stated over and over that Primacy of Rights would always puts the mother first and then you go on about the father seeking an injunction – something I have already addressed by putting the mother’s rights first.

            Second, this has nothing to do with abortions at any point, as Primacy of Rights would address this.

            As for “[t]hat fetus is not a human until it comes out of the womb and draws breath” – there in a nutshell is where the core problem between us lies. It is alive; it has human DNA; it is therefore a human life. The umbilical cord around the neck is the end of that life – no different than anyone dying of a car accident or a disease; we all live until we die, and we all die at different points unique to the individual.

            Defining humanness based on which side of the uterine wall one is on is a very bad precedent. It is a slippery slope that allows us to extend the premise to declare all kinds of people “non-human” and unworthy of legal protection.

            It takes a long time before a child reaches the stage where it can feed itself or otherwise be independent of care from others; why not set the bar at the ability to feed oneself? That would of course also render non-human those who are physically incapacitated in one way or another.

            Or what about those whose DNA does not adequately align with our views of correctness? I mean, that 47th chromosome that causes Down Syndrome; is a person with an extra chromosome really human?

            Absurd, right? Well so is defining humanness by geography.

            My proposal of a Primacy of Rights allows us to recognize what we know to be biologically true while allowing women complete control over their bodies by acknowledging the rights of both human lives while putting the woman’s rights first – whenever there is a conflict – while the other life is within her womb.

            All I’m trying to do is to provide legal protections against deliberate or negligent harm by a third party (i.e. not the mother or her health care workers) for the child while in utero.

            As long as you continue the fiction that life begins with the exit from the womb, you lose all credibility with me as a representative of a field of science.

          • The reality is that there ARE restrictions on abortions because physicians and hospital boards play a key role in the process and whether you agree with it or not, sex selection abortions ARE NOT going to occur in Canada because no physicians or hospitals boards are going to be willng to provide them. Just like there are not late term abortions unless there are exceptional circumstances. We don’t need any laws. No one has shown yet that their is ANY risk of any of these procedures which many find objectionable even occuring. Why is that? Because they aren’t happening.

  2. Mr. McKay Parliament did speak! Every vote was was a strong clear message to Canadians. I think MP’s exited quietly because on some level there may have been shame in the fact that our elected leaders are debating this issue, rather then a more substantive matter like the economy.

  3. John McKay’s observation is very telling indeed. Why is our Canadian society not mature enough to have a reasonable debate about such topics of when life begins?
    I am not against abortion but I am against selective abortions and I am against repeat abortions ( evidence of being careless) on the public dime.

    • Your provisos show that you are indeed against reproductive choice for women, that you think there should be criteria that you approve of before an abortion should be performed. Frankly it is none of our business. yours or mine or anyone else’s, as to why a woman wants an abortion: it is between her and her doctor. Perhaps repeat abortions are requested because of repeated abuse. Perhaps a woman who refuses to abort her daughter will be beaten repeatedly. We don’t know, and it’s not our business. This debate was held, first in 1968, and then again in 1998, and we do not need to keep having it — there are bigger problems to grapple with in our country than shoving one’s own religious or moralistic ideals into the lives of others.

      • Not 1998, 1988, when Mulroney was PM.

      • My abortion stand does not originate out of religion; it isn’t even a moral issue for that matter. It is a public matter if public money is being spent. Just because you are too immature to discuss the subject does not mean that other people wish to be immature about it.

        • So you believe that access to medical treatment should have a lifestyle test?

          Smokers, the overweight, people with insufficient exercise… where would you draw the line?

          • Smokers pay an awful lot of extra taxes (taxes on smokes are high). That cannot be said for obese people. And so, yes, I think obese people should share some of the cost.

            When women have multiple abortions, they are irresponsible. Pregnancy prevention is cheap and readily available.

          • “…yes, I think obese people should share some of the cost.”

            So healthcare is available to the wealthy obese, but the poor and obese can die preventable deaths alone. And a teenager who crashes a car while driving too fast? A jogger wearing headphones who doesn’t hear a bus about to hit her? Anybody suffering from addiction? What about mental illness that leads to neglect of physical health?

            This line of reasoning – that there should be a moral test before healthcare is available – is too stupid for you to seriously defend. Everybody – everybody – has moral failings, especially when they’re being judged by the standards of sanctimonious know-it-all strangers.

            “When women have multiple abortions, they are irresponsible.”

            And who do we allow to pass moral judgement on these women? You? A 60-year-old male doctor? A Catholic priest?

            Maybe a tribunal of doctors. The woman can plead her case and hope they decide that she has the moral character to be worthy of this procedure. We had this setup in the 60′s in Canada – you are actually arguing that we drag womens’ access to abortion back by 50 years.

      • Not too long ago, I heard Trudeau Jr. say how the time has come for all of us to be adults. And that the time to be children has come to an end.

      • I agree that FV appears to be limiting choice. Despite that, I do agree with him that there are issues to debate. It is possible – and in my view necessary – to provide certain legal protections to the unborn once the mother has opted to go through with the pregnancy.

        This can easily be accomplished through a law that encompasses primacy of rights for the mother as long s the child is in the womb. No restrictions on her reproductive rights, yet ending the legal idiocy we currently have that declares one’s humanity to be a matter of geography.

        There are plenty of us who support a woman’s right to choose but feel the current state of the law is inadequate. But there are many screaming fanatics (and cowardly pols) who are apparently incapable of having a discussion about this.

        And as their behaviour is as irrational and hypocritical as that of many radical pro-lifers, they are making the rest of us look bad and feeling increasingly uncomfortable to be associated with them.

        • Again, though, I’ll point out that this specific debate is not the one to be having until the primacy of rights issue is settled.

          • I think the two are inextricable. However, if you have a way of dealing with the primacy of rights issue first, I’m all ears.

          • In a theoretical sense, it’s simple. Personally, I’d suggest placing it in the criminal code: “No person shall be required to provide the use of their organs or tissues in support of another without the provider’s explicit consent. If that consent is not given, or is given and later removed, the provider may take any steps, including seeking medical assistance, to ensure that this provision does not continue.”

            Actually getting that into law is a matter of politics, however.

          • That may just work!

      • ” Perhaps a woman who refuses to abort her daughter will be beaten repeatedly. We don’t know, and it’s not our business”

        Seriously? It’s nobody’s business if a woman is being coerced(by threat of violence no less) to have an abortion?

        • Not as to the abortion itself, no.
          Coercion is a separate matter.

      • This ship has sailed here. The Obstetricians and Gynecologists are against the practice of sex selection abortions. If you don’t have physicians to perform the procedures and hospitals to do it in, it is a moot point. On a further note….the people requesting the service were from India, China, Vietnam and the Phillipines.

  4. It’s not up to MPs to come barging into my doctor’s office.It’s none of their business.

    • It is the business of the politician if abortions are paid for with public money.

      • All health care is paid for with public money.

        • And so health care is to be part of a public discussion.

          • Health care is the law….has been since about the middle of the last century.

          • But not all services are automatically covered.

          • Nope….25% or so, like glasses, dentistry etc are not.

            Should be, but aren’t yet.

          • Invitro fertilization isn’t covered indefinitely. But that is all about creating life.

          • Health care is covered in general in Canada, and has been for half a century.

            Plus you can’t make a law that only applies to one gender.

            So this ‘debate’ is a non-starter, and always was.

            Move on

  5. Canadians should be entitled to a mature and civilized rights dialogue.

    Seriously? A “mature and civilzed” rights dialogue? In the Canadian House of Commons? He wrote that without any sense of irony?

    He and his ilk have collectively reduced the HoC to little more than a sophomoric gong show much of the time, and now he laments the fact that they weren’t entrusted with the opportunity to debate a rights issue of fundamental importance.

    LMAO

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