Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Canada needs an Unborn Victims of Crime law

Excellent essay in today's National Post by Dr. Margaret Somerville - New Life Matters.

The topic of pregnant women and their unborn babies being murdered is not going to go away. In Canada, however, we only recognize the murder of the mother in a legal sense. Dr. Somerville is challenging this concept along moral and ethical lines.

She cites statistics showing that a majority of Canadians support some kind of legal protection for the unborn:

In short, many Canadians' moral intuition is that "there ought to be a law" -- or laws -- protecting fetuses from some harms, although we don't all agree on what those laws should be, especially in the context of abortion. Presently in Canada, there is no express abortion law.

So given that the majority of Canadians feel that there should be some type of protection, but there is also the fear that abortion 'rights' may compromised.

Somerville delineates the ethical dilemma here:

But willful blindness is not an ethical approach to dealing with abortion.

Seeing the fetus as an unborn victim of crime strips away the medical cloak that abortion places on the taking of its life, a cloak that dulls our moral intuition as to what is involved. It causes us to see the fetus as what it is, an early human life. Those who support abortion must be able to square that fact with their belief that abortion is ethical in certain circumstances.

Regarding abortion, she suggests that at the very least we need to ensure that women who choose to have an abortion do so with eyes wide open as to the pain that could be inflicted upon the unborn:

A "Fetal Pain Awareness Act," similar to those some American states have enacted, could require a physician to inform the woman, before performing an abortion, that scientific evidence suggests that after 20 weeks gestation the fetus can feel pain. Furthermore, she would have to be offered anaesthesia for the fetus, which it would be her choice to take or decline. This type of law would not prohibit abortion; rather, its goal is to try to prevent the fetus from dying in excruciating pain. After all, even jurisdictions that allow capital punishment prohibit certain forms of it on the grounds that they are cruel. Likewise, we have criminal laws that protect animals from brutal treatment.

Does this seem reasonable? Why wouldn't we want to offer a woman the opportunity to terminate her child in a somewhat more humane manner?


Oh, I know. If we can't see it, then it can't feel pain, right?


* * * *

Wednesday Update: Two differing points of view in Post letters today, but they still seem to both agree that we need some kind of law.

Claudia Batista, assistant professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil argues that human life starts at conception.


Andrea Skorenki
, OB/GYN resident, University of Alberta, Edmonton states that "...As a society we need to find a way to protect unborn fetuses after viability, but also to maintain a woman's right to decide what happens to her own body."


Suzanne has a blogburst going relating to a petition for the Holy Father to come to Quebec City in 2008. Perhaps we need some divine inspiration about how to handle this problem.


21 comments:

SUZANNE said...

I was reading a New York Times article yesterday about a Supreme Court case on whether the "three drug cocktail" used to execute prisoners is constitutional.

One of the drugs is potassium chloride. It's the drug that actually kills the inmate.

It's also used in late-term abortions. It's injected in the heart of the unborn child.

The NYT wrote that there is the suggestion that potassium chloride causes a sensation of burning veins.

Can you imagine that on an innocent baby?

It's not even necessary to terminate the pregnancy. You can still deliver the baby without the potassium chloride injection. The KCl injection is used to make sure the baby dies.

That's what abortion is really about. It's not enough to "evacuate your uterus". It's to make sure your baby is dead.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Suzanne, that is so sick. Why isn't it good enough just to have the baby out of the woman's uterus? Why does the baby have to die? I don't get that.

SUZANNE said...

People have this idea that if you kill a baby you know "will suffer" you're doing that baby a favour, so you're being compassionate.

Plus people don't want to raise handicapped children. Sometimes that desire is through ignorance. When doctors give information on genetic anomalies, it can sound scary. All you get are the medical details-- everything that could be "wrong" with the individual.

You don't get the intangibles. Yeah, sure, your kid will have hardship, but it doesn't mean the kid can't be happy. My autistic daughter gets to hang out with volunteer sixth-graders. She gets to be with the cool kids! Lucky her!

Another issue is that the drug given to induce labour is designed to produce labour so violent, the child is supposed to die. About 10% survive.

OMMAG said...

That would be fine for dealing with criminal assaults that result in death of a fetus.

However your thinly disguised attempt to make a case for the criminalization of the act of planned abortion is weak and unsupportable.

We have far too many would be arbitors of what is good for us clamoring for ever more intrusive legislation that insinuates governments ever more deeply into our lives ... a far greater threat to our future than the unfortunate choices of what is a minority of the population.

Joanne (True Blue) said...


However your thinly disguised attempt to make a case for the criminalization of the act of planned abortion is weak and unsupportable.


Not mine - Margaret Somerville's.

Would you object to the woman being told of the pain the baby might experience so that she could allow an anesthetic to be administered?

jeb said...

Don't bother Joanne, "pro-choice" folks are binary. It's the absolute right to "choose" or nothing.

For instance, try asking them if they think its morally right for a woman to take the life of a normal healthy unborn child, at nine months, ten minutes before its to be delivered.

Notice also that the very term is cloaked in a clinical, sterile term, absent what the "choice" in "pro choice" actually is - freedom to choose to kill an unborn child - you don't hear that very often.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Jeb, I'm only asking that they do it in a more humane fashion.

We treat animals better than our unborn babies.

SUZANNE said...

There was a case not too long ago of a woman who was very obese and she only found out she was pregnant when she went into labour.

According to feminist theory, that woman should have been able to reject motherhood and require an abortionist to kill her unborn at that time.

They don't like that line of thinking, but that's what their theory presupposes. All women make the right decisions wrt abortion.

Anonymous said...

Whu all this bending over backwards trying to come up with a politically correct law that avoids confrontation with 'pro choicers'? Why is there not more discussion about choosing to not have sex if you don't want a baby?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Why is there not more discussion about choosing to not have sex if you don't want a baby?

That might interfere with somebody's rights.

Ryan R said...

I'm very strongly pro-life on the abortion issue (and in general), but I have to diverge from Joanne here in two ways...

1. Making an abortion more "humane" would merely serve to make abortion seem even more acceptable than it already is through out Canada. Elective abortion (at least in the 2nd Trimester and later) is the intentional killing of an innocent human being for reasons other than basic self-defense. That's the key message that pro-lifers need to give loudly and clearly and persuasively. Until pro-lifers in Canada collectively get the intestinal fortitude to make that argument consistently, and frequently, and with no sugar-coating, abortion law (or rather the lack thereof) in Canada will not change.


2. If abortion law in Canada doesn't change, then I frankly don't want unborn children to be protected at all. In my view, it's farcical and an insult to the intelligence of all Canadians to consider the killing of an unborn child to be murder if it's done by someone other than the mother or an abortion doctor, but to consider such a killing to be perfectly legal if done by the mother or the abortion doctor.

The unborn child is either a human being deserving of basic legal protections, or s/he isn't. The nature of the unborn child does not change simply based upon the position of the person trying to kill the unborn child.

So... I don't want a farcical set of laws dealing with unborn children that are laughibly self-contradictory. Either protect unborn children from all who would want to kill them (including mothers and abortion doctors), or protect them from none. That's the only logical thing to do.

Joanne - How would that interfer with somebody's rights? It's a very good suggestion... if you're absolutely not willing to bring a person into this world than perhaps you shouldn't engage in penetrative sex.

OMMAG said...

"Would you object to...."
I never object to being 'informed' of factual matters in an appropriate situation.

I would object to anyone interfering in MY business!

Now would you .... being a woman object to anyone telling you what to do .... or especially trying use emotional rhetoric to get you to change your mind?

Especially in such a traumatic and emotionally charged situation?

As I've said many times on this matter ... the choices of the individual are theirs to make ... for good or ill ... and the consequences of those choices are theirs to bear.

SUZANNE said...

I would object to anyone interfering in MY business!

Human beings are the state's business. The state's #1 job is to protect the rights and security of all human beings.

Unborn children are human beings. Therefore the state should interefere.

That is the crux of the issue.

Joanne and I are women, and we don't feel offended at the notion that we must protect and defenseless human being.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Ryan - For the record, I am very sympathetic to your viewpoint. Just trying to find a middle ground.

Your first point, that anesthetic would just sugarcoat the situation, and perhaps tacitly condone abortion is a valid one. The only thing I am thinking here that is if we can never agree on any limits on abortion, then at least let's not allow the preborn child to feel pain. We wouldn't do that to an animal.

2. Your all or nothing argument concerning abortion vs. murder is a good one too. However, I think the difference is that in the case of the woman wanting to continue the pregnancy and a partner being so opposed that he is willing to kill her and the child, is more of a protection for both, in that the penalty would be (should be) more severe.

That's how I see it anyway.

SUZANNE said...

Regardless of whether abortion is legal or not, I have a right to my fetus, and if someone deprives me of him, I want that person accountable for that loss, not just for the injury done to me.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

OMMAG - Got to agree with Suzanne here. In cases where the defenseless and innocent among us are threatened, it is up to a caring society to stand up for them.

In any case, the whole point of the post was to present this idea of the woman being offered the opportunity to allow an anesthetic to be administered to the unborn child; assuming that the gestation stage is to the point where it is accepted that the fetus can feel pain.

Suzanne, I was just ready to post this comment when your latest one came up. I agree 100%.

And let's not forget the grandparents who have been deprived of their grandchildren, etc. This crime affects so many people.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This is a great story.

Anonymous said...

Joanne @ 7:06
Rights should not exclude responsibility.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Rights should not exclude responsibility.

Exactly. I was being facetious; i.e. presently the argument from the left. Note the italics. ;)

Anonymous said...

I knew you were Joanne...I was just putting it out there.
It needs to be said.
The mentality of a Nanny state exemplifies the thinking "I have the right to do whatever I want, and if I mess up the guvament has to clean up my mistake"

liberal supporter said...

Human beings are the state's business.

Human beings invented the State. They are the reason for the State's existence.

The state's #1 job is to protect the rights and security of all human beings.

No, it is most definitely not. The State's job is to protect those at the top from everyone else. Even in a democracy, the voting right is intended to pacify the people so they do not revolt and possibly kill those at the top.

To ensure those further down do not revolt, the State provides a legal system so that people will not kill each other or steal from each other at will. The legal system is intended to provide the belief of fairness, and so discourage vigilantism.

Unborn children are human beings.

Of course they are. But you are using that statement to make your argument for State expansion and give that argument a veneer of logic.

Unborn children are not separate legal entities, which is what the law is concerned with.

Therefore the state should interefere.

No, it should not.

There is no purpose served for society by outlawing abortion.

It does not remove a threat to my life, nor does it prevent vigilantism. So it does not make me in any way less likely to revolt against those at the top.


It may potentially reduce abortion doctor murders though. But this kind of vigilantism is not what the State was designed to stop.

Normally, vigilantism only comes into play where someone has been personally and directly affected and there is no legal system for redress.

Abnormally, vigilantism comes into play when someone wants to control unrelated other people, because they don't like something the other people do. Examples are abortion doctor murders and eco-terrorism.

Do you support the execution of abortion doctors by self appointed judges?