Friday 2 May 2008

Anti-VAW Expert: 'Pregnant women don't need C-484'

A couple of weeks ago, we at Birth Pangs called out to supporters of Bill C-484, aka The Kicking Abortion's Ass Bill.

OK. So. Here’s the challenge. Find one reputatable, established organization working against violence against women that publicly endorses this bill and we’ll shut up.

Well, they didn't/couldn't.

But today in The Western Star there is an editorial by Vyda Ng, co-ordinator for the Coalition Against Violence — Avalon East, St. John’s, which looks to us like a reputable, established organization.

Ms Ng says pretty much what we at Birth Pangs and everybody else with more than one working neuron has been saying.

It would have been nice if Ken Epp, the MP behind Bill C-484, had consulted women’s and violence prevention groups before trying to push it through Parliament. We would have pointed out that the bill misses the point entirely.

Not only misses the point but adds extra legal jeopardy for pregnant women.

Many U.S. states have adopted fetal protection laws, like Bill C-484. Yet these have not reduced violence against women. Instead, the laws have become tools for punishing and victimizing pregnant women. In those states, many pregnant women have been sentenced for behaviours not criminalized for others, such as drug or alcohol use, or mental health issues.

Mr. Epp says Bill C-484 exempts pregnant women from prosecution, but those exemptions have been ignored in the U.S.

After a similar bill was passed in 2003 in Texas, a district attorney informed physicians they were required to report pregnant women using illegal drugs.

As a result, doctors turned in over 40 women. In 1991, the state of California charged a 36-year-old woman with second-degree murder after she suffered a stillbirth.

The prosecution argued that exceptions were only meant to protect women who had abortions, not those who suffered stillbirth as the result of acts such as drug use. In 2004 in Utah, a 28-year-old woman was arrested after she gave birth to twins by caesarean section; one was stillborn. The mother was charged, based on her decision not to have the operation on an earlier recommended date.

OK, so this is just one anti-VAW group. Just like the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists is just one medical federation (with 8,000 members). And just like the Quebec National Assembly is just one provincial legislature (that voted unanimously in opposition to C-484). ;)

Here's how Ms Ng winds up:

Pregnant women don’t need Bill C-484. They need the men in their lives to stop being violent.

And women, pregnant or not, need the lying liars who march to the Kristian Kriminalizers' drum beat to mind their own business.

(First published at Birth Pangs.)

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