As a Texan lesbo spinster aunt, I am the world’s leading authority on Canadian abortion law, so when I got an mass email from Bonnie Gembey at LEAF Manitoba that said, “Ladies, the Harper government is up to its usual shenanigans again,” I knew just what to do.
I went straight to Google and looked up LEAF Manitoba and “Harper government.”
It turns out that Canada has a Prime Minister named Stephen Harper, and has had since 2006! I must’ve slept through that election.
Like all Prime Ministers, Stephen Harper is a peach of a guy. He is an AC/DC fan, belongs to an evangelical church in Ottawa, bribes MPs to change their votes, and opposes spousal benefits for same-sex couples.
No, it’s true! I read it in Wikipedia.
LEAF Manitoba, on the other hand, is not only not favored with a Wikipedia blurb, it doesn’t seem to have a website at all. I finally found what I believe is their parent organization, though, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. Here is their mission statement:
* To ensure the rights of women and girls in Canada, as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are upheld in our courts, human rights commissions and government agencies; and
* To take actions to reveal how factors such as race, class, Aboriginal status, sexual orientation, ability, and religion compound discrimination against women.
LEAF doesn’t mention anything about overthrowing the social order per se, but it appears that they grasp the general idea that women are human. In fact, the second part of their statement, wherein they vow to “reveal” how the social order facilitates women’s oppression, sounds suspiciously similar to patriarchy-blaming. Can I get a hell-yeah!
Anyway, what’s got LEAFer Bonnie Gembey’s oysters in a pot is a bill working its way through Parliament, Bill C-484. This bill would grant legal personhood to — say it with me — fetuses. The sentimentally-titled “Unborn Victims of Crime Act” would allow authorities to press additional, more bad-ass charges if a fetus (the “unborn child”) is aborted concurrent with a violent crime perpetrated against a woman (the “mother”).
Jiminy crickets! you are undoubtedly thinking. Where the fuck does a profoundly fucked up idea like fetal personhood come from?
It comes, O young onion, from a cabal of dudes indoctrinated from the cradle with magical misogynist thinking. This cabal of dudes arbitrarily decides, based on their self-identification as patriarchs, on their fucked-up interpretation of a 2000-year-old text written by fucked-up barbarians, and on their insensibly passionate love for their own sperm (which they appear to believe are mini-men), that a clot of cells is precisely, qualitatively, philosophically, even phenotypically the equivalent of any old autonomous being sauntering through the town square.
But why? Why ignore science and common sense and one’s ethical obligation to half the human race to perpetuate this quaint but destructive fiction?
As poetical blogger Richard Jeffrey Newman (whose excellent essay on the godbag origins of the anti-choice movement I recommend, not least because it reminded me of the hilarious little homunculus idea) sez:
If I am […] essentially no different from the bundles of cells that result from the coming together of egg and sperm, then protecting the children-to-be growing in the wombs of pregnant women from the “capricious” choices of free-willed women is a kind of retroactive self-preservation.
That’s right. It’s male ego, male fear of death. Fetal personhood places the status of women right where it belongs: firmly in the cytoplasm of a parasitic growth containing dudely mini-me DNA.
Fetal personhood is fucked in many ways, but relevant to Bill C-484, it is fucked because whereas it purports to remedy violent crime against pregnant women, it does nothing to address the factors that actually contribute to violence against women, and will certainly erode abortion rights (which, I think I can say without fear of contradiction, is the bill’s real purpose).
The LEAF press release suggests all manner of proposals that could help achieve the purported purpose of Bill C-484, without quite so much of the antifeminist fetus-loving godbagism. Such as
adequate financial security for women and children trying to leave abusive situations, more stable funding and education opportunities for women with children, and better training for police, lawyers and judges and better [funding] for transition houses and women’s groups serving the needs of abused women.*
LEAF goes on to call out the government for what it is: the above-described cabal:
If this or any other Canadian government was serious about addressing violence against women, including pregnant women, it would look to the wealth of recommendations made over the years by a range of community-based organizations with expertise in assisting women and children victims of violence.*
And maybe it wouldn’t endeavor write into law the psychopathic notion that women are nothing but fetus-incubating meat bags. Jesus tap-dancing Christ. If a fetus is a person, a woman isn’t.
* Sorry, no link; I quoted this text from Bonnie Gembey’s email, and was unable to find it anywhere on the LEAF website.