Did we call it or did we call it?
Less than 2 weeks before the final vote on the sleazy, suspect Motion 312, a pleading dispatch from MP Stephen Woodworth to those voting on it confirms its true intentions:
September 14, 2012
Re: Motion 312
1. I am enclosing a copy of Subsection 223(1), the law which is the sole focus of Motion 312. You will see that Subsection 223(1) is a 400 year old law which decrees the dehumanization and exclusion of an entire class of people we know to be human beings, namely, children before the moment of complete birth.
This is a direct assault upon the principle of universal human rights, which insists that every human being has an inherent worth and dignity which the state must recognize rather than merely a value assigned by others based on the utility or inconvenience of that human being.
2. I am also enclosing an extract from the judgment of Supreme Court of Canada Justice Bertha Wilson in her 1988 Morgentaler decision throwing out Canada’s abortion law. Justice Wilson was a woman of impeccable feminist credentials.
You will see from this extract that Justice Wilson left open the question of protecting the rights of children before birth for resolution by Parliament. Subsequent Supreme Court of Canada decisions have also left open this question for Parliament to resolve. Far from “re-opening” this issue, Motion 312 proposes the consensus-building dialogue which is the only path to finally closing it. This is in fact what Justice Wilson suggested.
You will also see that Justice Wilson concluded, like me, that the existing recognition only at complete birth is wrong, suggesting that it ought to be at some point in the second trimester of the child’s development. She did not regard this to be inconsistent with her decision on abortion.
3. Finally, I am enclosing a copy of Motion 312 itself. Please note that Motion 312 proposes no legislation (on abortion or anything else) and insists that the Committee also refrain from doing so. The Committee will merely study the evidence and report all available options.
Please also note that Motion 312 directs the Committee to respect all Supreme Court of Canada decisions. All existing women‟s rights are protected by this provision!
Laws like Subsection 223(1), which decree the dehumanization and exclusion of an entire class of people, deny the principle of universal human rights. That principle, which asserts that every human being possesses equal and inherent worth and dignity is the bedrock upon which all of other our laws rest.
No 400 year old law should be frozen in time, forever immune from democratic review and forever immune from advances in understanding.
Please support the mere study proposed by Motion 312.
Member of Parliament
It’s ironic that even at this point, Woodworth still twists in the wind between truth and lies meant to comfort those who support the right to reproductive autonomy. “All existing womens’ rights are protected”: well, of course. There is no existing, codified-in-law right to the specific medical procedure abortion, only the right to privacy and security of person which in 1988 was deemed to include this doctor-patient decision.
Of course, much is made of the fact that Justice Bertha Wilson was a woman of impeccable feminist cred: she was. But her decision in 1988 assumed there would always be a law in some form or other, because there always had been. In 1988 not even a woman of Justice Wilson’s brilliance could have imagined that Canada would embark on an incredibly successful 24-year experiment in leaving this medical decision to doctors and patients, and the state’s interference proven to be utterly useless.
Being proven right in a contentious dispute is usually occasion for gladness, but this is one time that it would be a far better thing to be proven wrong. I take no pleasure in the fact that prochoice suspicions about Motion 312 are now unequivocally proven right: that the motion is indeed the first legislative step towards regressive and unnecessary abortion restrictions and the establishment of pregnant women as an underclass with less rights than non-pregnant women.
If only Justice Wilson were still around to give us her current opinion on the matter. Right now she must surely be rolling in her grave.