Mueller proposes the following (links added for your ease of reference):
The arguments from Michael Coren, Father de Souza and Thomas Armstrong concerning the rights of fetuses are emotionally stirring, but specious; in all the cases cited, the pregnant woman was attacked resulting in her murder or attempted murder. So whether or not the fetus dies, our criminal endures no greater or lesser sentence with or without any change to the law governing a fetus's status.
According to the Supreme Court of Canada, no one can infringe upon a mother's rights, even to protect a fetus. Yet the law frequently infringes on individual rights to prevent society from paying some bigger bills down the road--i.e., the requirement to wear a seat belt.
Without raising the question of "fetal personhood" setting new legal precedents, it appears obvious that society can and should intervene by legislating against behaviour deemed contrary to society's best interests. Perhaps another kick at this legal can of worms is required-- but from a different angle.
Armstrong's letter has been generating a lot of debate over the last few days in the Post. (Armstrong himself was allowed a rebuttal today, which is normally against the Post's policy. They usually only print letters from the same person once every two weeks.)
Back to Mueller's letter - There is a school of thought that suggests that pregnant women may be more vulnerable to physical attack because an irrational partner may be even more likely to act aggressively if her pregnancy is an issue between them. This was certainly the case in the tragic end of Roxanne Fernando, who was murdered by her boyfriend specifically because she refused an abortion.
So how was her 'right to choose' upheld here? Clearly it wasn't.
Now Mr. Mueller makes the valid point that in our law system as it stands now, an additional murder charge would likely not result in any extra time served, so why bother?
Well, I would respond that perhaps in the case where the woman survived a murder attempt but her wanted baby did not, then an actual charge of murder could be relevant.
The main stumbling block appears to revolve around this issue of 'personhood'. How can we declare that the fetus requires some kind of protection in a civilized country, without compromising the 'rights' of the woman to do anything with her body that she so wishes? (Except to not use a seatbelt to? Oh, and in some areas a bike helmet. Oh, and to not cross the street against a red light.)
In Armstrong's rebuttal letter, he at least admits that the fetus is "alive"; just not a person.
So, can we start there? We have this mass of tissue that is "alive" - presumably different in some way from the co-habiting body organs that are also contained in the mother-carrier, e.g. different DNA.
This mass of alive tissue can, in some cases, pose a physiological threat to the man who started this life along with the mother. Can we call it a 'person-in-the-making' or something a bit less cumbersome?
Could we possibly enact some kind of legislation that would serve as a greater deterrent to protect the mother from someone willfully deciding to abort the child or person-in-the-making against her wishes?
Could we please do something to protect the right of all women to choose, and not just those who choose abortion?
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Friday Update: Excellent discussion going on here via Suzanne.
Lots of great letters in today's Post. Here is my favourite by Dr. Paul Ranalli of Toronto (emphasis mine, as always):
Letter-writer Thomas Armstrong is right that the fetus has no rights. It is his contentment with this that is the problem. The unscientific and anti-intellectual state of Canadian law in this matter leaves us to consider the following conundrum: A premature baby born at 26 weeks gestation is backed by the full power of Canadian law, yet an unborn baby at 40 weeks gestation -- more than three months older -- has no rights, and can be aborted or declared a non-person if stillborn from a birth misadventure (Sullivan-Lemay midwife decision).
Pro-life advocates are often accused, wrongly, of wishing to "turn back the clock." In fact, Canada's legal position on the fetus derives from the "born-alive" element of English common law, and dates from the '80s. That is, the 1480s.
Our Canadian disregard for human life is breathtakingly barbaric.
More noteworthy articles:
British doctors gave skewed evidence to keep 24 week abortion limit.
Previous abortions linked with pre-term birth and cerebral palsy.
Forgetting what it is to be human - Melanie Philips.
Saturday Post - Great letter by Susan Greig, who works with pregnant women:
...Can we not be honest and once and for all admit that if you want your pregnancy you are having a baby and if you do not want your pregnancy, you are hosting a bunch of cells/mass of tissues? That they are in fact one and the same, and that it is the perception of the mother that differs, nothing else...
As in art, the concept of 'baby' is in the womb of the 'holder.