Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fetus rights part of SoCon chess game

PERSONAL POLITICAL / Trends in women's political issues not looking good

Ariel Troster / Xtra.ca / Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If I hear another "socially progressive, economically Conservative" homo defend Stephen Harper again, I'm going to lose it.

You might remember the refrain from after the last federal election in 2006: He's not so bad. This is a minority government. The free vote on re-opening the same sex marriage was only about pandering to the Western base and was meant to fail. Harper's committed to right-wing economics, but he's no religious zealot.

We all know Harper's been careful to micromanage all government communications, in an effort to paint himself as a middle of the road, fatherly kind of guy. But just last week, even the propaganda department at the PMO couldn't keep a lid on Charles McVety, president of the ultra-right Canada Family Action Coalition.

McVety couldn't contain his excitement over a controversial few sentences buried deep within Bill C-10, a broad ranging piece of income-tax legislation. The Bill allows self-appointed censors from the Departments of Heritage and Justice to yank tax credits away from film and television productions deemed to be "contrary to public policy."

All three opposition parties missed this stealth manoeuvre, until the bill hit third reading in the Senate, and McVety gloated to the Globe and Mail about how this bill represents the government's — and Canadians' — true "conservative values."

This came in the same week as a private members' bill from Conservative MP Ken Epps that puts a significant dent in women's reproductive freedom by establishing legal "personhood" for fetuses passed second reading.

The so-called "Unborn Victims of Crimes Act" will now go to committee hearings, where you can bet every religious whackjob will testify about the "rights" of the unborn. Shamefully, neither the Liberals or the NDP whipped their caucus to vote against the bill.

If anything, it's been a banner year for religious wingnuts, and with Harper approaching majority territory in the polls, we can only imagine what actions he would take if he didn't have to rely on the Liberals nor the NDP to get laws passed.

It's useful to take a close look at some strategic initiatives that the Harper government has pushed through over the last two years. When you line them up, you see the escalation in tactics and the rather brazen moves by the Conservatives to silence queer and women's rights activists.

Read the rest over at xtra.ca.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2-minute action for reproductive freedom

Tomorrow, the House of Commons will vote on Conservative MP Ken Epps “Unborn Victims of Crime Act." The bill is problematic to say the least … it would effectively confer legal status on fetuses, violating pregnant women’s rights in the process. It’s the kind of legislation that the religious right has successfully passed in the U.S., leading to arrests of pregnant women for actions that are not considered criminal for anyone else. It also does nothing to address the real pressing concern for pregnant women: domestic violence.

For an excellent analysis of why the bill is problematic, check out Joyce Arthur's recent editorial in the National Post.

I think this tidbit really sums it up:

Under state "fetal homicide" laws pregnant women are more likely to be punished for behaviours and conditions that are not criminalized for other people, such as drug or alcohol abuse. Women have also been charged or jailed for murder for experiencing a stillbirth after refusing a Caesarean section. Some states have proposed punishing pregnant women in abusive relationships who are unable to leave their batterers, and desperate women who resort to unsafe self-abortions. The worst offender is South Carolina, where dozens of pregnant women with drug abuse problems have been arrested under fetal protection laws, even though they had virtually no access to drug treatment programs.
Usually private members’ bills have no chance of passing, but apparently only the NDP and the Bloc have agreed to whip their caucuses to vote against this measure.

You can click here to send a message to Stephane Dion, urging him to impose some party discipline, and make sure that this frightening initiative fails.

For more analysis on why this bill is terrifying, check out what Vicky Smallman and Andrea Zanin have to say.

And also, check out the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's talking points on Bill C-484.

Take action now!