Over the past several months, one has heard the litany of complaints over Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP Ken Epp's private members' bill, Bill C-484 -- the Unborn Victims of Crime bill.
According to Canada's pro-abortion lobby, the bill is an outrage -- nothing but a back-door "attack" on women's abortion rights.
Unfortunately for Joyce Arthur and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, many opponents of the bill have reached this conclusion by intentional misreadings of the bill in question -- often refusing to acknowledge the existence of entire passages of the bill that don't fit the narrative they're so desperate to push.
Like many demagogues, Arthur has often pushed this particular narrative by promoting it in the places where it will receive the least possible scrutiny. What all too often emerges is a portrait of the pro-abortion lobby's fantasy version of the legislation, instead of the real deal.
"It’s very sneaky," says Arthur. "[Epp] is trying to rewrite the Criminal Code definition and allow a fetus to be treated as a person."
Which, of course, would be just awful -- that is, if you're a member of the pro-abortion lobby (more on this shortly).
When one examines the entirety of Arthur's complaints -- regarding both the bill and the government -- what quickly emerges is a portrait of an ideologically-constructed fantasy world in which Arthur, and those who share her opinions, are entitle to force their views on other people, often to the detriment of those she was supposed to be trying to help in the first place.
One particular point Arthur is stewing over deals with recent changes to Status of Women Canada -- transforming the organization from one that engages in lobbying, advocacy and research to one that provides funding to actual services for women in their community.
Arthur insists that the move was a blow to women's equality, and was intended as such -- despite the fact that the moves were largely managerial in nature. For example, the closing of a number of regional offices -- rendered less necessary by the access granted through the organization's website -- freed up $5 million for community-level services and support for women.
Arthur's objection to this really demonstrates a purely ideological view of how women's equality can be achieved, and what that represents.
To individuals like Joyce Arthur, women's equality demands that women be treated as equal in all respects, even in situations where they may not be. Certainly, women should be considered equal in all formal aspects -- and according to the letter of the law, they are.
But there's a difference between legal equality and practical equality. The test case for this always seems to be a hiring process wherein a man and a woman are competing for the same job. The principle of formal equality insists that, the two being equal in practical respects -- skills, capabilities and experience applicable to the job, the man should not be hired over the woman by simple virtue of being a man (nor should the woman be hired over the man by simple virtue of being a woman; this should go without saying, but all too often, is left unsaid).
However, if the man's skills, capabilities and experience exceeds the woman's, it should absolutely not be considered discriminatory to hire the man over the woman.
What ultimately emerges is a rather simple fact: legal equality is not necessarily practical equality.
The funding changes to the Status of Women that Joyce Arthur opposes, meanwhile, provide for many such things as job and skills training for women, to make them more competitive in the job market. If one favours practical equality between men and women, this is something they should certainly support.
If one favours legal equality over practical equality -- or believes that a woman's qualifications shouldn't have to match or exceed that of a man's in order to be hired over him -- than one would certainly oppose the changes. But it could be considered quite ironic that a group so preoccupied with equality would want to advance such a comparatively hollow definition of the concept.
They also seem to have a fairy-tale imagination for what such equality would mean for women -- that it would represent some sort of magical panacea for women, protecting them from all forms of violence so effectively that no further legislation would ever be necessary to help protect them.
"Ensuring women’s equality will go a long way to making them more safe," Arthur insists. "If the woman is safe, however we do that—through social supports or whatever—then the fetus is going to be safe too."
But Arthur reserves her finest vintage of rhetoric for espousing the threat that recognizing any fetal rights would allegedly pose to women's rights (actually a threat to Arthur's ideologically-driven world view).
"The bill basically gives fetuses a form of personhood," says Arthur. "It’s giving them a separate status apart from the mother, and the moment you do that, whatever else you say about that, you are setting a very dangerous precedent."
Dangerous for the pro-abortion lobby, perhaps. The distinct challenge posed by the concept that unborn children should have rights has been detailed elsewhere, but reiteration is necessary.
The recognition of the scientific fact that an unborn child -- or fetus, as preferred by the pro-abortion lobby -- very much is human life represents a devastating threat to the pro-abortion lobby's characterization as "nothing more than a clump of cells".
If one recognizes an unborn child as human life -- as more and more people are -- it becomes increasingly apparent that Canadian law needs to put measures in place to help protect it.
Furthermore, the implications of the pro-abortion lobby's attempts to dehumanize unborn children become more and more apparent, as the organization's own rhetoric begins to undermine it. The house of cards built on the fundamental principle that that unborn children are not human quickly collapses.
Of course, there are, as Arthur herself notes, portions of the criminal code that explicitly define an unborn child as "not a person". This is established both by Section 223 (1) of the Canadian Criminal Code, wherein it reads:
"When child becomes human beingThen again, Canadian law once failed to recognize women and ethnic minorities as people, too. The explicit and counter-scientific establishment of unborn children as not human beings is no less an injustice, but unfortunately for the pro-abortion lobby, it's an injustice they're interested in perpetuating, not resisting.
223. (1) 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, whether or not
(a) it has breathed;
(b) it has an independent circulation; or
(c) the navel string is severed."
Unfortunately, Arthur does have some allies in her ideologically-driven quest to deny unborn children what is indisputably already theirs by virtue of simple biology.
"In my almost 40 years in the women’s movement," said former NDP leader Alexa McDonough. "I have never had a single woman, a single advocate, a single representative of a single organization or an individual family member come to me and say this is a law they would like to see implemented."
Of course, it's unlikely that McDonough would tolerate her staff allowing any woman who did favour such a move through the front door. The hostile treatment by left-wing women's groups of organizations such as REAL women, or of individuals such as Mary Talbot -- the mother of the slain Olivia Talbot and grandmother of Lane Talbot Jr, and supports Bill C-484 -- is evidence enough of that.
The more one examines Joyce Arthur, the more sorry one feels for what the so-called "women's movement" has become. All too often, an extremely exclusive club of like-minded individuals. As some individuals have noted, membership in the so-called "women's movement" has all too often become more about what politics one believes in than what gender they belong to.
But that's another story for another time.
The women's movement has foresworn its time-honoured legacy of resisting social injustice. The same lack of personhood that was once vehemently rejected as it regarded women is now equally vehemently embraced as it regards unborn children.
And all the while, Joyce Arthur clicks her ruby slippers together telling herself "there's no place like home, there's no place like home". Sadly, not even the Wizard of Oz can give individuals like Arthur the courage to face legitimate challenges to her ideology, the intelligence to recognize they need to do so -- in cooperation with of all the people who favour legalized abortion (this author included) -- or heart enough to care.
Better to live in an Oz-like fantasy world.