Apr 28 2008

Fetuslove, Canadian-style

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.


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  1. DeNatured

    Oh, Fuck Harper. Fuck him, fuck him, fuck him! And fuck all of my neighbours and fellow citizens who elected the bastard. This is the third article today to pass through my Google reader that has made me ashamed of and righteously pissed at my country.

    And fuck the Opposition, who can’t seem to see over their differences to KICK HIM OUT OF GOVERNMENT. It’s a minority government. A minority. They’ve held countless non-confidence motions since he was elected, and the opposition parties, in their wisdom, always seem to split just so, so that he gets the votes to stay there. Meanwhile, his agenda consists of pointing at insignificant tiffs and yelling “LOOK! A SCANDAL!” so that the opposition is too distracted to notice that his caucus is passing a bill to legalize spousal abuse (okay, I exaggerate, but not by much) behind their backs. That’s what happened with this bill, by the way. The opposition neglected to read it, first of all, and then neglected to inform themselves of when the vote was happening.

    I hang my head in shame that my supposedly Liberal hometown MP voted for that bill. Not the MP where I currently live that I voted for – she kicks ass. No, my parents’ MP. They didn’t vote for him either, but they do seem to think he’s too stupid to be dangerous. Here’s the thing – nobody is too stupid to be dangerous.

  2. Panic

    Where the fuck does a profoundly fucked up idea like fetal personhood come from?
    The USofA. Thanks, guys!

    Okay, that was totally glib, but this bill is based around the laws in several states regarding this sort of thing. Harper would very much like to be an American. He currently resides in Alberta (Texas with Snow), though he’s actually from the east (though he hides that, lest he be seen as some sort of pinko commie). He would very, very much like to be GWB and is a dangerous whackjob.

    There’s been a lot of email and letter writing within my circle over the past couple of months on this, and a lot of silence in return. Cuz, you know, the people who have to carry those fetuses humans aren’t human enough to deserve a response (except from those pink commies the NDP, whom I always vote for, being a pinko commie myself).

  3. Cass

    “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.”

    Violence against women? Isn’t that one of those “women’s issues”? B-O-R-I-N-G!!!

  4. DeNatured

    Violence against women? Isn’t that one of those “women’s issues”? B-O-R-I-N-G!!!

    Know what one of his governments early acts was? To declare that Status of Women (a government department) was no longer to concern itself with “equality”, and to slash almost 40% of their budget.

    It’s not this government doesn’t care about womens’ issues. It’s that it’s actively afraid of women.

  5. CLD

    For some strange reason, the term “meat bags” keeps making me giggle like an idiot. But it’s just so disgustingly true that that’s exactly what we women are considered by men: “fetus-incubating meat bags”.

  6. Hippolyta

    “If a fetus is a person, a woman isn’t.” This just blew my mind. Of course, and yet, I’ve never heard it more concisely stated.

  7. Belle O'Cosity

    I guess it’s time for me to give up on the idea of finding a Canadian man or woman to marry so I could live in a country that’s not totally crazy and maybe even kind of progressive. Sigh. Time to look for a Swede or Norwegian maybe?

  8. Cass

    “Know what one of his governments early acts was? To declare that Status of Women (a government department) was no longer to concern itself with “equality”, and to slash almost 40% of their budget.

    “It’s not this government doesn’t care about womens’ issues. It’s that it’s actively afraid of women.”

    I had no idea they were that bad. How thoroughly fucking disgusting.

  9. Laura the Explora

    Unfortunately for people in Canada who care about this stuff, it gets hidden under the carpet – our MPs are oblivious, the media doesn’t report it, and so nobody knows what’s going on. That’s all compounded since Canadian media (and individuals) would rather point out how the US is going to the dogs, rather than critique our own burgeoning conservatism.


  10. Laura

    DeNatured said: “Oh, Fuck Harper. Fuck him, fuck him, fuck him! And fuck all of my neighbours and fellow citizens who elected the bastard.”

    Fuck do I ever fucking agree with you. Fuck.

    And Cass, they are more than that bad, they’re worse. Harper is a control freak and a smart one. It’s not about making big sweeping changes; it’s about chipping away, cutting funding, sneaking things in to bills. I’m fully aware that it was the Liberals who slashed social spending in the ’90s, but the Harper government is interested in slashing rights and sovereignty.

    Also, DeNatured, I like that bit in the story you linked where Bev Oda declares the Status of Women Commission unnecessary because women are already equal. I mean, it’s so true! There’s never been a problem with a serial killer murdering women for years before anyone took notice. We don’t have women being trafficked in to Alberta where oil workers pay to rape them. We’ve never incarcerated a pregnant teenager so she’d testify against her abusive partner. This must be because the Conservative party, and Parliament itself, has an equal number of men and women MP’s.

    Wait a minute.

    Now I can’t hold Steve (as the cheeky Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador likes to call him) responsible for everything shitty that happens in Canada, but I can blame him for a lot of it and I can certainly blame him for making things worse.

    Also, I must say I live in Alberta (I’m still not over the election), where the patriarchy is loved almost as much as beef, oil, and big trucks. And jacking up and reving those big trucks. To prove the men are manly. Not sissy commie environment lovin’ hippies. Puke. IBTP.

  11. Veronica

    So, I’m assuming that upon the passage of this law, pregnant women are entitled to use carpool lanes?

  12. angie

    Yep, they’re pretty awful, and it continually boggles the mind that these self-important gas-bags managed to get elected. DeNatured pretty much sums it all up.

    If you’re interested, here’s an article from the Toronto Star about it from nearly two months ago:

    And a piece from rabble.ca (a fist-shaking Canadian journalism site):

  13. lily dustbin

    Here’s the petition:

    Oppose Bill C-484

    Here are the Talking Points

    Harper maneuvers with Rovian-like genius – it’s a scary time in Canada…

  14. brainiac9

    Firstly I need to say how excited I am that there is a posting about this here. We were talking about this in the women’s centre at my University (located in the lovely capital of the frozen north) and about how totally screwy it is, and seeing it here? Yays for the internet.

    Secondly? Par for the Harper golf course. Having grown up in Alberta, I am intimately familiar with the attitudes espoused by the Conservatives. Hell, I played piano recitals at the church Harper attends in Calgary – and as Panic mentioned above, Alberta is indeed Texas with Snow. I have fond memories of discussing with my Conservative MP such issues as global warming (not our fault!), the death penalty (we should get it back so we can kill murderers!), oil (which is inexhaustible!), and his dissenting vote that cost Nelson Mandela honourary Canadian citizenship (“He’s a communist and a terrorist!” was his actual reasoning, word for word).

    Canadians like to forget that our government, given the opportunity, would like to be just as bad as the Republicans. We get all cozy with our diminishing universal health care and our decrepit welfare system and convince ourselves things are fine and dandy.

    When sh*t like this is being passed, clearly things are not all fine and dandy.

  15. RKMK

    Thanks for the heads up, Twisty, just wrote my MP. He purports to be concerned with human/women’s rights, at least, though my predominantly-Portuguese neighbourhood has had a history of squeeving me out with their unpredictably on the issue (not to mention the near-constant evangelism at my door and as I walk down the street) so I’m not sure exactly where he stands. But I let him know how *I* stand, at least.

    I knew Harper would start this shit as soon as he could, that slimy-ass weasel. Growl.

  16. Chiroptera


    Brilliant! And of course tax deductions start at conception. And date of birth should no longer matter.

  17. Kay

    Yeah, that’s the shiny happy liberal land o’ love I live in. Fucking Harper and my parents who voted for him. The idea comes from certain states in the US, where, although there has been no change in the number of pregnant women being murdered, women have been charged with harming their fetuses by doing such terrible things as not jumping at the chance to be sliced open. I’m terrified to think this could happen in Canada.

    DeNatured: I agree with you that the opposition needs to get its act together, but I share their concern that an election would result in a Conservative majority and they could pass all the anti-woman/anti-gay/anti-Aboriginal legislation they wanted unopposed. Step one is to get an opposition leader with a backbone.

  18. Panic

    RKMK, looks like you live near me! Though when you were talking about Portuguese neighbourhood, I assumed parts of Trinity-Spadina. :)

  19. DeNatured

    Step one is to get an opposition leader with a backbone.

    Yes. Any opposition leader. Say what you will about Bob Rae (seriously, my parents worked for his Finance Minister – I’ve heard it all) but the man is an outspoken, unapologetic socialist. There’s no way he would be standing there right now, going, “Uh?” the way Dion has been. And I wish Alexa McDonough were still NDP leader. She’s still my MP and she still rocks, but she rocked harder when she was up front.

    I’m just sick of all the thumbing of noses across the floor and acting as though it’s accomplishing something. I’m sick of legislation like this, and like this and this, not getting laughed out of the Commons. I’m sick of 20 year old “news” about random German businessdudes dominating the airwaves at the expense of things that really, really matter. And most of all, I’m sick of this man. How can anybody look at that attempt at a human emotion and not recoil in horror?

  20. Lt. Rev. B. Dagger Lee

    I’m sure the idea of fetus-Canucks is an evil clone of an evil idea born here in the U.S.A.!

    Here in Amerikka, an organization called the Center for Reproductive Rights (www.reproductiverights.org) is fighting the good and valiant fight. These women are superhero lawyers, who fly around from state-to-state, to the Supreme Court, and fairly often to courts in other countries. In the States, they track, advise and fight laws granting personhood to fetus-Coloradans, fetus-Texans, fetus-Oklahomans, etc.–as well as fighting for the right to contraceptives, adolescent access to contraceptives, women-in-prison’s access to reproductive services, and the rights of pregnant women with drug/alcohol problems; the latter are increasingly being faced with state legislatures trying to pass laws that would throw them in jail for stuff like ‘attempted murder.’

    I’m listing only a little bit of what they do, but if you’re thinking of making a donation somewhere, check out their website; they’ve been effective, and those superhero capes aren’t free.

    By the way, I wanted to let everyone know that God has started impregnating me every month, but every month in protest of That, Everything Else, and solidarity with Certain People, I drink an herbal cuppa and abort it, while Miss Patsy sings ‘God Bless America’ and pretends to be Ethel Merman. Anyone who menstruates can do this; chamomile tea works really well to abort the Holy Spirit (but only the Holy Spirit).

    But I’m really looking forward to menopause.

  21. Ron Sullivan

    Nice epithet, Veronica. Good to see it from someone saddled with that many syllables.

    Careful, BDL; certain people’s seeing stuff like that might start the ball rolling for a fetalocitizensoldiers’ Geneva Convention and I’m pretty sure that anything involving Ethel Merman would be Right Out.

    Ron, waving an encouraging hankie from the other shore of menopause

  22. ate

    Fantastic that he’s an AC/DC fan. Known rapists and active perpetrators of violence against women! I know several women who were raped or assaulted (back in the day) by members of AC/DC. One took it to court and the dude recieved a $100 fine, a slap on the wrist and no conviction. Grrrr, the rants I could make about AC/DC and their glorification at the expense of women.

  23. Twisty

    “But I’m really looking forward to menopause.”

    Menopause should come with a swimming pool and a cabana boy who brings you blocks of ice and fizzy drinks and watermelon, and who fans you with a palm frond. Otherwise it’s not really worth looking forward to.

    My hot flashes start at 7 am and continue until 7 am.

  24. Bird

    As a socialist woman in politics in said Texas with Snow, I must say that being a feminist politician in this damn province is like beating my head against the wall.

    Harper’s government sneaks all sorts of nasties into Parliament under the cover of omnibus bills. Out of fear of an election, the federal Liberals prop up the Conservatives because the Grits are short on cash and charismatic leadership and they fear going to the polls.

    This leaves the NDP and Bloc frantically but futilely voting against horrible legislation while the Liberals worry more about winning the next election than about doing something right.

  25. Anna

    While we’re at it, some Yahoo in Winnipeg is trying to allow medical practitioners to refuse to perform medical procedures on religious grounds.

    Obviously this is about not performing appendectomies, right?

    DeNatured, you must live in my neck of the woods – Alexa’s my MP as well. And unlike my MLA, her office actually answers my emails.

    The Unborn Victims of Crime Act was a bloody freaking travesty that I have not forgiven the Liberal MPs that stood up and voted for it to go to committee. Bill C-10, which apparently is all about banning teh_ebil_gay_movies, is in the bloody Senate waiting rubber stamping, we’ve got this STUPID Immigration Bill that the PCs are basically DARING the Liberals to call an election over, and I’m just sitting here thinking “So, I have dual citizenship. I hear Europe is nice this time of life.”

  26. Chai Latte

    *urge to kill rising*

    “If a fetus is a person, a woman isn’t.”

    Or, to quote Amanda Murcotte, “Your Rights Offend My Religion, So They’ll Have To Go.”

    I am furious.

  27. Magdalena

    I’m a long time lurker, but very infrequent commenter. I’m delurking to alert all to an article I recently read for a class (Medicine in Latin America) that specifically explores the weird U.S.-style of social construction of fetal personhood. The author juxtaposes this idea with notions of fetuses in the Andes, in which fetuses occupy an odd space not defined in terms of personhood or identity. Pregnancy is also defined in terms of the pregnant woman, not the end result of the fetus, either. It’s well worth reading for evidence that alternative visions to U.S. ideas of fetuses as people actually exist.

    I don’t know how to italicize things here, so please forgive the incorrect citation:
    Morgan, Lynn. “Imagining the Unborn in the Ecuadorean Andes.” Feminist Studies (

  28. Magdalena

    The citation mysteriously disappeared after I clicked “blame.” Apologies all around.

    Feminist Studies is the name of the journal. Issue and volume are 23.3, respectively. Special Issue: “Feminists and Fetuses” (Summer, 1997): 322-350.

    Best blaming to all.

  29. ElizaN

    Damn, I could have been shopping at the liquor store 3 months after my 20th birthday! I must go alert my college student neighbors.

  30. Lara

    “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.”

    Holy shitkabbibles that makes so much sense! I have been, for a long time, convinced that it’s men’s fear of death and their fear of women’s control of life and death that has stimulated the patriarchy into being (in addition to the creation of early forms of capitalism). Men cannot deal with the fact that they are nothing but reproductive specimens who provide sperm, and that women are the ones who control life and death (can bring a fetus to term, or can terminate it if they wish by inducing miscarriage by will or herbs/medicine) so they try to control women’s bodies with written laws and all sorts of other bullshit ideas.
    It’s so scary how such pathetic and stupid beings as men have so much fucking political, economic, and social power over us. It’s really scary.

  31. Lara

    Thanks for that citation Magdalena, that sounds really interesting! I will try and check it out ;)
    Is there anything I can do about this if I am not living in Canada? I still have my Canadian citizenship, along with my U.S. citizenship ::gasp:: I’m an evil anti-American commie!!

  32. Magdalena

    You are quite welcome for the citation. I hope you find the article useful. I study Latin American history and constantly deal with the social construction of this or that, but the idea of the social construction of the fetus as a person took me quite by surprise. The author details how this construction gets reinforced through various cultural practices, like the big, glossy posters on the walls at the doctor’s office that illustrate the stages of fetal growth (called “human development”) as well as more obvious tactics, like naming the fetus.

    It was also quite pleasant to realize that while feminists in the U.S. have long objected to personification (anthropomorphizing?) of the fetus, women in some other cultures also regard fetuses as, well, just plain fetuses devoid on any sort of personhood.

  33. rootlesscosmo

    Lt. Rev.:

    By the way, I wanted to let everyone know that God has started impregnating me every month, but every month in protest of That, Everything Else, and solidarity with Certain People, I drink an herbal cuppa and abort it, while Miss Patsy sings ‘God Bless America’ and pretends to be Ethel Merman. Anyone who menstruates can do this; chamomile tea works really well to abort the Holy Spirit (but only the Holy Spirit).

    Congratulations! You now have a Fine Arts degree from Yale.

  34. Kay

    Whoa, there are this many Albertans that comment on IBTP? Not to mention all the Albertan readers that haven’t commented, and the patriarchy-blamers who have not yet been blessed with the discovery of Twisty Faster. We should have some sort of get-together. That kind of shindig would make me feel better about having to move back to what my Saskatchewanian friends call Purgatory for the summer.

  35. DeNatured

    Is there anything I can do about this if I am not living in Canada? I still have my Canadian citizenship, along with my U.S. citizenship ::gasp:: I’m an evil anti-American commie!!

    Hey, that’s something. Our government doesn’t require renunciation of allegiance to be a citizen. Unless it does, now. Hmm.

    I wish I had an answer for you, Lara. The only thing I can think to do is to stay on top of this stuff (via the blogosphere, because we all know the mainstream) and let Canadian friends, and sympathetic MPs, know as soon as there’s proof. But the CRAP* machine is so committed to sliding this stuff in as quietly as possible, while keeping focus on other things, that it’s really hard.

    I’m happy to see all the Canadians who read Twisty, too. Also, Anna: Sociable!

    *Conservative Reform Alliance Party. Yes, I still think it’s funny.

  36. Twisty

    If Alberta really is “Texas with snow” I should think there would be many things to recommend it.

    I have consulted SiteMeter, and it appears that 235.6 Canadians click on this blog every day. Whether they just come to point and laugh, or were misdirected by a Google search for BDSM gone horribly wrong, or what, would require more research to reveal.

  37. cypress

    from rural British Columbia.

    Lara, I’ve long thought that there is a near atavistic male fear of women because of our apparent capacity to bleed for days and not die.

    As for Steve and the Harperists, they are such a familiar brand of patriarchal knee bending idiots, many of them engaged in trying to undo the 1988 decision to remove abortion from the Criminal Code of Canada [a federal matter, with provinces responsible for administration and enforcement, so by golly, what is a crime in Prince Edward Island, is also a crime in British Columbia and Alberta].

    People who believe [and I think that’s the right verb] in the ‘personhood’ campaign are the people who finance the Harperists’ election expenses, and so bills of this idiotic stripe appear and disappear with alarming frequency. And scary as it might be – such bills generally don’t go anywhere in the end, because the supreme court has ruled on these matters. But they sure are distracting everyone from the body bags coming home from Afghanistan.

    It seems to me, too, that the reluctance to actually cause the fall of the federal government is some kind of strategy – if it can be dignified by that name – to wait to have a federal election in Canada until after November when there will be some greater clarity about who is going to appear to be running the show over there on the other side of the border.

    IBTP for all of it.

  38. Dr. Steph

    Another Canadian happy to see you writing about this. I did a while back when the bill passed first reading (FUCK!).


    Thankfully my MP (NDP leader) is against this, but I’m saddened by the completely lack of attention this bill is receiving in the media and that the NDP isn’t shouting about this misogyny from the roof tops.

    I also hate how the abuse of pregnant women is seen as so much more tragic than the “run-of-the-mill” abuse of women and children because a pregnant woman is fulfilling her womanly duty by breeding. Fuckers.

    Canada overturned the law criminalizing abortion because there is no recognition of fetuses as persons. I don’t think this law will withstand a court challenge, but that’ll also mean a man who beats a pregnant woman will be the one to overturn the law.

    Hey Government fuckers–why not just enforce the statutes that already exist.

    I hate Stephen Harper and his ilk and IBTP.

  39. Lawyer/scientist

    Thanks, Twisty, for bringing this up – I will now emerge from my self-imposed isolation (final exams and papers) long enough to figure out if my MP voted for this and get in touch with her. I’m not sure if it is said isolation or the lack of Canadian media coverage of these issues that made me previously unaware.

    By the way, I find it amusing that I, a feminist, Canadian law student, do not receive email from LEAF, and you do. I would blame the patriarchy for this if I could, but I’m pretty sure it’s my fault for not getting myself on their mailing list.

  40. TwissB

    Now that’s real right thinking, Victoria.

    I suppose that I should know better than to disagree with the formidable Lt. Rev. B. Dagger Lee, but I’ve got to say that I regard the Center For Reproductive Rights to be part of the problem that they help perpetuate by validating with their expert attention every malintended piece of nuisance anti-abortion legislation that the twisted brains of these misogynist politicians come up with. CFRR is both more opportunistic and less brave than they claim to be. As lawyers, they know that every law that treats abortion differently from any other medical or surgical procedure is SEX DISCRIMINATION and that sex discrimination is not unconstitutional and Roe v. Wade is a cruel lie. Those rotten lawmakers can keep this game up forever as long as women – and “feminist” lawyers in particular – keep playing along with them instead of calling their bluff. These lawyers need to stop battling dragons’ teeth laws and start informing women about their lack of constitutional protection against sex discrimination and what they need to do to fix it. Instead they just keep on repeating the same cowardly mistake that led them to refuse to include legal barriers to abortion as sex discrimination when defining what the Equal Rights Amendment would do. Sexual orientation discrimination was also excluded for the same cowardly reason – that these icky issues would defeat the ERA. Well it was defeated anyway and we were left with the betrayal of two issues that should have been advanced by ten years of being identified as plsin sex discrimination. So I don’t appreciate the Center for (non-existent)Reproductive Rights for maintaining the cover-up and letting pregnant women continue to be harassed.

    But in the meantime, when I hear about a new Fetal Personhood proposal in the US, I call the sponsor and inquire sweetly whether a baby born female will have her personhood taken away and become a non-person just like her mother. And if the fetus is revealed to be female, will personhood be withdrawn at that point? Just asking.

    By the way, the Canadian constitution has two statements on women’s equality, one of which, as I recall, weakens the other, so Fetal Personhood laws may be more than just scare talk there too.

  41. Bushfire

    Another Canadian regular reader here, just sayin’ hi for now. I have actually heard a lot about this issue from my NDP commie peeps, and I don’t have my notes with me because I am on a trip to Europe. Feminists across the country have heard of this, which is maybe 300 people, and I’m sure that nobody other than hard-core NDPers have heard of it. Harper has a sneaky way of never letting anyone in the country know what he is doing. Hardly anyone noticed when the government arbitrarily decided that gay men could no longer donate organs (even though no one has ever contracted HIV from an organ in Canada and gay men donate more organs, percentagewise, than any other group). As someone on this thread mentioned, another bill is sneaking through right now that would end funding to any Canadian movie that godbags feel is offensive, which means they want to censor Teh Gayz.

  42. Intransigentia

    Hi, another Albertan here.

    Bushfire – WTFnF? No organ donations by gay men? You’re right, that one totally slipped under the radar. I’m sure the people dying while they wait for an organ are thrilled to be protected from teh gay.

    Bill C-10 scares me almost as much as this fetal personhood crap.

  43. brainiac9

    I hadn’t heard about the organ donation thingy. That’s awful! The conservatives must be trying to reduce the organs available for transplant so our remaining doctors don’t get too overburdened doing surgeries /snark. But seriously, you’d think that when there’s already a fairly large movement pushing for the allowance of blood donations by gay men that it’d be counter-intuitive to make organ donations by gay men illegal. Gah.

    @DeNatured: I still get a kick out of the acronym too. I think it’s right up there with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade – DFAIT, or défait (defeat) in French. XD I think our government needs a couple of 8 year olds on staff to tell them when they develop stupid acronyms. Apparently they’re REALLY bad at that.

  44. Amananta

    Please forgive me for this question. I recognize that something is fundamentally wrong with my thinking here and I suspect it is patriarchal brainwashing but I can’t quite seem to ferret it out.

    I am, of course, highly disturbed by any implications that arise from this bill – if killing a fetus becomes the crime of murder, that is one tiny step away legally from criminalizing abortion and sending women to death row (well I guess they don’t have death row in Canada? I am unsure) for having one.

    But – I’ve been pregnant and had a child, and if someone had, say, shot me in the stomach (as happened somewhere here in the States recently) at about 6 months along, thus killing the fetus I had put up with carrying along with the attendant morning sickness, raised blood pressure, stretch marks, back pain, and all the other miseries I went through during pregnancy, I would want them to be punished not only for harming me but for taking something from me. Surely there must be some way to frame a law that it doesn’t then punish pregnant women? Or maybe there isn’t and I’m just being clueless in some way I don’t recognize?

    Having been abused while pregnant myself, I am well aware of the way that our culture pretends to have a high regard for the pregnant woman, putting her on a pedestal, while actually hating her. Pregnant women are at higher risk of violence, especially from their partners, than non-pregnant women. I would like to see the Ev Psych people try to explain that one away.

  45. RKMK

    Hey, my MP’s office wrote me back!

    Dear Ms. R[KMK],

    Thank you very much for taking the time to contact us on this important issue and for offering your personal concerns.

    For many of the reasons that you have provided, Mr. Silva cannot support Bill C-484. While violence against women is a serious issue that is very deserving of public concern, Mario does not feel that this bill is effective in addressing these concerns.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact this office. Should you have any further questions or concerns. Please don’t hesitate to contact us again.


    Braden Root-McCaig
    Special Assistant
    Office of Mario Silva, MP Davenport

  46. Panic

    There are in fact many wonderful things about Alberta, as there are about Texas. I miss things about it every day of my life. The political climate and most of the population excluded.

  47. slythwolf

    How come LEAF isn’t saying “to stop violence against women, make men stop beating up women”?

  48. hysperia

    Hi. Glad to see you covering this miserable Bill. LEAF is an organization that looks at cases before the Courts only. Though they certainly do say things like “stop violence against women”, their actions are somewhat curtailed by their self-definition and by their charitable status – they can lose it if they go too far. Given the very limited amounts of money that are available for this kinda thing, I can’t blame them too much – most of the time. If you are interested in what action is being taken in Canada to stop this ridiculous conservative-law-and-order-but-who-cares-about-the-women Bill, check out the website at the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/c484.htm They have a petition to sign and they need money for the struggle, of course. I’m no patriot but Canada’s abortion laws are still more secure than US’ and you can come here if you’re a woman who wants to marry a woman or a man who wants to marry a man! Come on over and pay us a visit sometime.

  49. Artemisia Maude

    “I’m no patriot but Canada’s abortion laws are still more secure than US’ and you can come here if you’re a woman who wants to marry a woman or a man who wants to marry a man! Come on over and pay us a visit sometime.”

    Hehe, this is pretty much my plan after I graduate…

  50. firefalluk

    Oh Twisty, silly, silly Twisty: you know that fetuses are only human until they are born, unless they have the magical Penis Power to retain the humanity. Otherwise, they’re just disposable incubators.


    It’s just a matter of time before this hits the US statehouses, I suppose. Time to start buying shares in the coathanger manufacturers.

  51. zooeyibz

    blimey. is there something in the water in North America? the US govt is currently hard at work trying to figure out ways to stop women accessing “abortion” — where “abortion” is defined as termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation”

    forget fetus=person… apparently free-floating sperm=person too…

  52. Megan

    “If a fetus is a person, a woman isn’t.”

    This is the most succinct and honest statement I’ve ever read concerning the “abortion debate.” Thank you.

  53. Bonnie Gembey

    Weighing in on the LEAF issue – I’m no longer a member, not that it’s not a very worthwhile organization. I was out in the wilds of Northern Manitoba and couldn’t get to meetings or fundraisers. Having moved back to Winnipeg, I plan to rejoin. LEAF does take action against domestic violence (partners hurting partners in any arrangement, but mostly the the most common one, male violence against women). They also advocate for female prisoners’ rights. They cover the spectrum in criminal and other areas of law, identifying “women’s” issues – (if we are all people, are they not then just issues? Kind of like I’m a “woman lawyer”, I guess). I can’t say enough about the good work they do, and the awareness that they raise. And guess what? Stephen Harper’s government is about to undergo its second non-confidence vote since his first term (we’re now on #2, thanks so much, Canadian electorate)! It is not, of course, a “women’s issue” that brings about a coalition bid to overturn the Conservative Government, but who am I to complain if he’s voted out of office – bring it on, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois!

  54. Richard Jeffrey Newman

    Just a quick note to say that the essay of mine to which you linked, Know Thine Enemy, is now at my new blog, which is here</A.

  55. Richard Jeffrey Newman

    Oops! Wrong link. The essay is here.

  1. Not even Canada can help us now | eb

    […] after reading this post on I Blame The Patriarchy today, I realize I am a Canadium informatus ignoramus. Alas, I apologize to our northern neighbors […]

  2. A bit of what I read today, theater edition.

    […] days I hate my country as much as the next one… http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2008/04/28/fetuslove-canadian-style/ Anyway, what’s got LEAFer Bonnie Gembey’s oysters in a pot is a bill working its way through […]

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