The proposed Unborn Victims of Violence bill is intended, ostensibly, to bring to justice people who commit the particularly unsavoury crime of killing a pregnant woman (and thus ending both her life and the life of the potential baby). However, it is also a very sneaky attempt to discredit the pro-choice position and probably even take steps towards recriminalizing abortion, through giving the fetus 'personhood' status.
Here's my take. When a pregnant woman is murdered, the fetus she is carrying also dies. So, it makes sense to ask for a heavier sentence, since the family loses the woman and the potential child. Correct? Well...not exactly. Because once again, wanted or not, only the woman has a say over the pregnancy, no matter how much emotional stake the family has in it. Her body, her choice - that's the law. It sucks, but the alternative sucks a lot more. Here's why.
When you give someone a heavier sentence for killing a pregnant woman than they would receive for killing a non-pregnant woman, it sends one of two messages: either that the fetus is in fact a legal person, and thus deserves a separate charge; or a pregnant woman's life is somehow more valuable than that of a non-pregnant woman. Both messages are problematic; the first for its undeniable implications in the abortion debate, and the second for its overt value judgement (a woman has more value as an incubator than as a human being).
So that's my problem with it. It's a blatant attempt to get 'personhood' rights for the fetus. There is a clause within the bill that assures us it cannot be used to criminalize abortions, but let's be realistic; muddying the waters around who is a 'person' and who is not is the beginning of a very slippery slope, and it ain't going the way we want to go.
If you are against this bill, there are a few things you can do.
1. Let your MP know how you feel. Go here to find your MP by entering your postal code, then call, email or write to them and let them know that this sneak attack on women's rights is not acceptable.
2. Blog about it!
3. Sign this petition to oppose the bill.
Rock on friends.