At the center of the shrieking maelstrom of madness known as “the Motion 312 Masturdebate” (because it’s really about one side not knowing when to quit) is the now-infamous Criminal Code Subsection 223(1), which among other things, defines when a “child” becomes a “human being”:
The use of the phrase “human being” is unfortunate because it has two distinct meanings, one legal, as in Subsection 223(1), and one biological. One correct, and one incorrect (in this context) and just waiting to be exploited. I can’t ask the Legal Eagles who crafted the statute, but I’m as certain as I’ll ever be about anything that what they meant by “human being” in the context of the Criminal Code was “legal person”, not “member of the species Homo Sapiens”. As old as Subsection 223(1) might be, it’s not so old that the legal minds of the time didn’t understand the biological reality that humans give birth to humans, not dogs or cats or hammerhead sharks.
But imagine Stephen Woodworth’s frenzied joy when he realized that the meaning of “human being” in 223(1), taken the wrong way, could be misrepresented as a Bad Law driven by Bad Science. Bad Law that needed to be investigated by a Parliamentary Committee. Bad Law that would eventually have to be changed to expand the legal meaning of “human being” to include even the lowly fertilized egg.
And so began the sordid tale of Motion 312, built on a disingenuous and self-serving misinterpretation of legal jargon, with its full intention the ushering in of the Beginning of the End of Abortion Rights in Canada.
Supporters of Motion 312, and Woodworth himself, bend over backwards with assurances that it’s nothing of the kind, but I know better. Not just because fetus fetishists let the cat out of the bag ages ago, and not just because they use Twitter to barf out scads of abortion-related tweets all over the Motion 312 timeline, and not just because they hashtag those tweets with “#FetalRights”, and not even just because Woodworth is committed to pushing anti-abortion legislation. All that stuff is meaningful, but the slam-dunk is a lot simpler.
If the only problem is a few words in Subsection 223(1), surely there’s an easier fix than launching Parliamentary investigations and expanding the legal meaning of “human being” to include zygotes, setting womens’ rights back about 50 years in the process. If the only problem is the phrase “human being”… then why not just change it? Amend the statute to say ”person” or “legal person” instead of “human being”? Seems reasonable.
Reasonable to anyone whose “To Do” list doesn’t prominently feature the abolishment of reproductive rights.