Friday, November 12, 2010

Bill C-510 Hits the Blogs

One of my favourite feminist blogs, Feminists For Choice, has printed a great guest post on Bill C-510 by Roxanna Bennett which I encourage you to check out.

What I like about it is that Bennett has focused on the same issue that bothers me the most about the bill - the fact that the true problem with situations like those of Roxanne Fernando (for whom the bill is named) is not abortion, but violence; and that if Rod Bruinooge truly wanted to help, he could at the very least work on anti-domestic violence law (or enforcement of laws already on the books), but better still support social programs that provide preventative steps and resources for women who are at risk.

The fact that this woman wanted to have an abortion is entirely irrelevant; her partner killed her. This happens ALL THE TIME. The most dangerous time in the life of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship is when she is pregnant. Every single moment of every single day, a woman or child is being beaten by a male in their life.

That is the straight dope, friends. Roxanne was in trouble and having a law against coerced abortion was not going to help her. But there is a lot of stuff that could have.

Where I take issue with the piece is actually the line that ARCC seems to be taking on it, which is regarding coercion into childbirth being much more common than coercion into abortion. While I think that's probably true, I don't feel like there's much to be gained by calling for an opposing law (although perhaps this was slightly tongue-in-cheek?). Everybody: coercion is ALREADY against the law! None of these laws or proposed laws are of any use, because the law is already in place.

“It’s not just partners or family members who try to compel women and girls to have babies against their will,” said Arthur. “The entire anti-choice movement has been trying to force women into pregnancy and motherhood for decades, by working to outlaw or restrict abortion. Perhaps we need to protect women from this coercion by criminalizing anti-choice activism!”

Really I think it's ridiculous to try to introduce new law to confront a problem (or perceived problem) in our society. Perhaps it's a little anarchist-y of me, but I really feel these things are better solved (or at least examined) on a community level. We need to support women who are pregnant, to give them the resources they need to leave (or never enter) abusive relationships. And we need to teach young people how to have healthy relationships and to treat each other with respect. And I wasn't kidding about handing out condoms!


Serena Freewomyn said...

I agree - the law needs to be opposed simply because it would give legal status to a fetus. Once that precedent is set, you can say goodbye to women's reproductive rights.

Stephanie Ruth said...

How does it give legal status for a fetus? I've read the law in the entirety, and it doesn't change the fact that the criminal code still doesn't call a fetus a human being until it is born. You need to do your research on this one, Serena.

This law is all about reproductive rights. We don't have reproductive rights at all if we don't have the right to choose to have a baby without the threat of coercion. The men who killed Roxanne were not charged with coercion. They couldn't be. There's no legal precedent, and no law to define it. No one has ever been charged in this type of case. And yet we all know it goes on, especially in certain immigrant communities where boys are valued higher than girls. You really think all those women are happy to have an abortion every time their ultrasound shows it's a girl?? I have a baby girl and I must say this disturbs me greatly.

It's one thing to say you're pro-choice. But if you don't support the protection of both choices, you aren't really pro-choice at all.

I would suggest you re-read the bill, find out more about Roxanne and then see if you're still against it.

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