In reply to Stephen Woodworth

If you’re not living in Canada you probably haven’t heard of Stephen Woodworth. He’s my MP. He’s also apparently decided to make a name for himself by re-opening the abortion issue in Canada.

A recap: currently there’s no abortion law in Canada, and there hasn’t been since the 1980’s. This has been fine, really. There’s also a section of the criminal code which says “A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state from the body of its mother…”. Stephen Woodworth, along with various pro-life groups, has been making a big stink about how that’s a “400-year old law” and is proposing a parliamentary motion to “study” it.  It’s only a study, they claim. You can’t possibly object to a study, can you?

At which point I say: pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

Woodworth’s motion got a sound tongue-thrashing from the whip of his own party during the first round of debate. But now the actual vote is coming up…June 13…and I guess Woodworth wants to march into the House of Commons claiming his constituents have his back, because I’ve just gotten a survey in the mail. And I quote:

“Do you agree Parliament should study our 400 year old definition of human being with available 21st century scientific information?”

I hardly know where to begin.

There was a tiny little “Comments” box on the survey. Here’s my reply so far:

It’s disingenuous to claim you’re only after debate when the subject evokes as much passion as this. Furthermore we’ve seen where this “debate” has taken the U.S.A. and it’s a dark place. The existing law is fine. Keep your government nose out of it.

There’s just enough room left in the comment box after that for a shortened URL. So let me expand on my reply, and then I’ll add a URL to my reply to the survey. Who knows, maybe he’ll read it.

So, to the Honourable Stephen Woodworth, MP:

Just a study? Who do you think you’re fooling? Is there anyone in the country with the sense of a cabbage who thinks that the definition of human being is a scientific question? I’m a 38-year old skeptic atheist with a Ph.D. in mathematics and a healthy respect for the Age of Reason, and even I don’t think this is a scientific question. By any scientific standard, the definition of human is an arbitrary human construct. You’re just trying to move the goalpost from one arbitrary standard to another one you like better.

What’s more incredible, you apparently expect me to believe that you and your allies will be satisfied with just a study. Except that I have decades of history of this same debate in the United States to use as a guide, and it’s painfully clear from that history that you and your allies will never be satisfied with just a study. There’s a slope leading from “just a study” to Scott Roeder and coat hangers and people like you and your allies have greased that slope to within an inch of it’s life.

But don’t take my word for it.

If the legal definition of when one becomes a human being were to be adjusted so that a fetus is declared to be a legal person at some earlier stage of gestation, then the homicide laws would apply.

As a necessary consequence, aborting fetal development anywhere in the potentially new adjusted period would be considered homicide. Thus the ultimate intention of this motion is to restrict abortions in Canada at some fetal development stage.

That was your party’s whip, Gordon O’Connor. Remember?

It’s not “just a study”. To claim otherwise, on this topic of all topics, lies somewhere between naivety and an outright lie. It’s you sticking your nose into one of the most tragic situations a woman can face.

Let’s talk about your endgame, the Honourable Stephen Woodworth. What, in the end, do you think you’re going to accomplish?

Do you think you’re going to put an end to abortion? You’re not.

Do you think you’re going to put an end to the tragedy of unwanted pregnancies? You’re not.

Do you think that you’re going to make some women’s lives miserable? Do you think you’re going to drive desperate women into back alleys and medically dangerous folk remedies? Do you think you’re going to compound existing tragedies by heaping shame onto women who’ve done nothing wrong?

What’s your goal, the Honourable Stephen Woodworth, MP? What’s your brass ring? Because you’re never going to convince me in a million years that it’s just a study.

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