When Justice, the dog from Windsor was bound at the mouth, neck and legs with electrical tape and left to die, discussions about added legal protections for animals were once again welcomed with open arms. On the other hand, discussions about protecting a women’s choice to carry her wanted child to term, as in the case of Cassandra Kaake who was seven months pregnant with her daughter Molly when she was killed, rarely make the news. That is because there seems to be an innate fear among Canadian political parties to talk about anything to do with pre-born humans, and the brave Canadians who attempt to start these discussions are often vilified.
Jeff Durham, Molly’s father, identifies as pro-choice and has been campaigning for changes in law that would see justice for women whose choice to carry their baby is violated by a third-party perpetrator. His attempts to initiate a public conversation about why the choice of Molly’s mother was not protected have been met with a completely different response than those advocating for Justice (the dog). Why do conversations such as the one Durham has initiated seemingly paralyze Canadians, and more importantly, political parties?
In late February, Jeff Durham and other members of his family, together with Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall, announced the introduction of Bill C-225, the Protection of Pregnant Women and Their Preborn Children Act. His activism was prompted by the tragedy that resulted in his daughter’s death. When he found out there was no charge – and thus no justice – for the death of Molly, he decided to launch a campaign to fill this legal void so that no other family will have to experience something similar.
Upon the introduction of Bill C-225, Durham immediately faced opposition. Not from pro-lifers, who may have been understandably upset that this legislation does nothing to restrict abortion, but from self-proclaimed women’s rights activists. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, led by Joyce Arthur (whose Twitter bio describes her as a “Writer, feminist, atheist, and an activist for abortion rights and sex worker rights”), was quick to announce their disapproval by posting links on their Facebook page saying that the bill could be used to grant rights to fetuses – this, in spite of the bill’s intention to protect the choices of women that Ms. Arthur purports to speak for. Not to be outdone, anonymous blogger and social media activist Fern Hill tweeted, “Molly’s Law does not “protect” anyone. It is another backdoor attempt at #personhood, aka assault on abortion.”
No Canadian is under the illusion that a discussion about protecting pre-born human rights, even of children that women have chosen to carry, will be simple. But does that mean we should allow certain individuals to polarize the conversation with the result of censoring it all together?
What about the choice of Cassandra Kaake? If we are serious about protecting women and the children they choose to carry, we do well to take a close look at the legislation Ms. Wagantall has tabled.
Bill C-225 would make it an offence to cause the death of, or injury to a child that has not yet become a human being while committing an offence against a woman that the accused knows is pregnant. In addition, Wagantall’s bill adds pregnancy as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing, sending a strong message that anyone who abuses a pregnant woman will experience the strong arm of the law. The bill also excludes any possibility that a pregnant woman can be criminalized in any way for harm done to her pre-born child as the new offences can only apply when the pregnant woman is the victim of a crime.
The reality is that Bill C-225 does not give fetuses rights, which is why some pro-lifers are indifferent towards it. Ms. Arthur’s assertion that the bill grants personhood and protects fetal rights brings to light her fixation with abortion rights rather than women’s rights. Her extreme position should not be what sets the stage for a difficult but necessary conversation about the Molly’s of our country; the children whose mothers have decided to carry them.
The Criminal Code has laws that protect dogs, and rightfully so. However, if we are going to talk about defending the vulnerable by way of legal protection, we need to talk about all of the vulnerable, and we should start with our own kind. Pre-born children have no legal standing in the courts due to a fear of what that might mean for the women who carry them. That fear is our shame, as it means that Molly’s life doesn’t matter.
It’s time this country has a hard look at priorities and logic to ensure that we have a proper understanding of true justice.
LifeNews Note: Mike Schouten is the director for WeNeedaLAW.ca, a public awareness campaign building support for the protection of pre-born humans.