By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 - 0 Comments
Support for unrestricted abortion has apparently increased over the last eight months.
A Forum Research poll for the National Post recently asked 1,735 randomly selected Canadians 18 years of age or older when abortion should be legal. A full 60% of Canadians said always. That’s surprisingly high. Even more surprising: That number’s skyrocketed in recent months. In a similar Forum poll conducted last February, only 51% of Canadians took that position…
But why the blip? Forum president Lorne Bozinoff has a theory: “In the absence of anything else happening, it appears [Conservative] MP Stephen Woodworth’s attempt to re-open the abortion debate had the effect of hardening opinion in favour of legal abortion.”
In a recent print edition of the magazine, Charlie Gillis looked at how the anti-abortion movement is trying to shape its message. At a conference in Toronto last month, Mr. Woodworth explained it this way.
But Woodworth does not completely blame the failure on those MPs pre-occupied with abortion — pro-lifers are at fault too for not being able to adapt how they communicate their message. “If you simply go in with your truth and you fail to recognize the truths that others are concerned about, you won’t make that connection, you won’t develop that relationship and you won’t be listened to,” he said. “If you cannot convince someone that a child is a human being before birth you are not going to convince them about abortion.”
By Emma Teitel - Friday, November 2, 2012 at 6:04 PM - 0 Comments
It was hard to imagine at the height of Todd “legitimate rape” Akin’s mass pillorying, that the Missouri congressman would survive his senate race. The Republican establishment all but abandoned him, Romney asked him to step down, and even Ann Coulter called him a “selfish swine” for his annoyingly strong convictions. What his decision to remain in the race will do for Romney’s chances is unclear, though his name–and now, Richard Mourdock’s– is pretty much synonymous with the dreaded “War on Women.” Akin’s own chances at victory, however, aren’t as damaged by his bogus science as everybody thought they’d be.
According to a post on The Hill today,
“Akin went from a low of 38 per cent support in one poll, conducted in the days after his comments drew national scrutiny, to just a 2-percentage-point deficit in one independent poll released last weekend. One Republican internal poll has Akin and McCaskill tied.”
It’s also rumoured that a number of his old friends (the National Republican Senatorial Committee perhaps?) are slithering back just in time for the election, with some last minute millions. And the Missouri Republican Party recently helped him out with a $300,000+ ad buy:
See below, one of the weirdest campaign ads ever made (though not as weird as this one) in which a multicultural/multi-generational group of women gush about how much they love Todd Akin, and one of them, about how much grocery shopping sucks in communist Russia…
The United Colors of Todd Akin
If Akin does manage to win the race, the joke is on the Democrats: In August, the Washington Post argued that the Democratic party was instrumental in Akin’s Senate GOP Primary victory. The Dems assumed his opinions were so out there, that were he to win the primary, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill would be a practical shoe-in for the Senate. So according to the Post, the Dems “spent $1.5 million trying to help Akin win his 3-way primary.” In other words, they created their own political version of the Producers. Apparently, they ran anti-Akin ads like the one described below, that deliberately made the candidate more appealing to conservative voters, and more likely to win the GOP primary in Missouri. From the Post:
“‘Todd Akin calls himself the true conservative, but is he too conservative?’ asks the narrator of the ad, which is approved by McCaskill’s campaign and paid for by the DSCC. The narrator goes on to note the negative posture Akin has taken toward President Obama, before concluding, ‘it’s no surprise Todd has been endorsed by the most conservative leaders in our country – Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee.’”
That’s not a mild attack ad. That’s a full on endorsement for Akin, which means that if he does in fact beat McCaskill next week, he’ll have some thanking to do across the aisle. And Planned Parenthood will at least in part have its own party to thank for the impending “War on Women”
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
The Etch A Sketch is back in full force, only this time the interval between Mitt Romney’s abortion flip-flops is getting smaller and smaller–to the point at which it no longer exists at all. Romney’s official campaign website, for example, touts pro-life Mitt Romney, the kind of Romney who would like the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. All the while, moderate Mitt Romney gave this comment to the Des Moines Register yesterday: “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
Except, of course, this one…
(from the Values page on his campaign site)
“Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
Mitt supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood. He will protect the right of health care workers to follow their conscience in their work. And he will nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the law.”
What this means then is that not only was Mitt pro-choice before he was pro-life, he is both pro-choice and pro-life at exactly the same time. Far out, man.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
The hot story in U.S. politics this week is a Republican Senate nominee’s folk belief, expressed in a television interview, that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape”. Missouri Congressman Todd Akin told a TV interviewer:
First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Akin’s use of the phrase “legitimate rape” is attracting a lot of catcalls; maybe he ought to have used Whoopi Goldberg’s famous formulation “rape rape” in order to be better understood. The funny thing is, if Akin meant “violent rape” when he referred to the “legitimate” kind, his weird legend is probably slightly higher on the ostensive believability scale than, say, “Organically grown vegetables are better for the environment”. It’s quite demonstrable that plenty of mammals undergo spontaneous abortion under stress; when it comes to sheep, rabbits, and rodents, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” is a 100% accurate statement.
Unfortunately for Akin, we belong to none of those species, and the evidence from medicine says that thousands upon thousands of human pregnancies result from rape. I don’t advise you to take it to the bank, but it may even be the case that rape is more likely than consensual sex to induce pregnancy in humans.
Everybody in the media thinks it is interesting that a Republican candidate got tripped up in being challenged on the abortion issue by means of a philosophical edge case. No one seems to take much notice of how big a deal we make of these cases themselves. It is fine that Akin got humiliated and may lose his political career, since a political campaign is, in part, an IQ test. He failed the test by letting it slip that he may think some species of sexual assault are less “legitimate” than others. He might as well have added a “heh heh heh” and waggled his eyebrows salaciously while he was at it.
In some contexts there are valid reasons to distinguish violent rape from other kinds, just as we distinguish murder from manslaughter. But the officiousness with which Akin is being belaboured is appropriate to our time in history: we have only lately blown up the methods of social control once used to protect women from non-consensual sex, and a few generations of men are having to have it drummed into them that sex without consent always has the essential nature of rape, whether you paid for dinner or not. This awkwardness is part of the price for the transition from an ancient social regime of patria potestas to one of ultra-individualism and contractual relationships.
Still, it’s interesting that we have made the poor little rape-baby so central to the debate over abortion—that this is the test we apply to men like Akin, even though Akin had already made his extreme pro-life position clear many times over. He thinks that abortion is wrong, and while rape is also wrong, two wrongs don’t make a right. This position has an attractive consistency when contrasted with the fudges some people come up with in confronting abortion. If you want to make an exception for rape because in that case the woman did not choose to get pregnant, will you make one for the broken condom and the forgotten birth-control pill? For a “natural family planning” calendar calculation gone awry? For a makeout session that gets out of hand?
To the degree that a “pro-life” position respects a woman’s choice, it becomes a “pro-choice” position very quickly in practice, as the “exceptions” naturally expand to cover nearly every conceivable situation in which a woman will want to seek an abortion. Women don’t get abortions because they’re laugh-a-minute thrill rides. They get them, and pardon me if I’ve buried the lede here, because they’re pregnant and they don’t want to be pregnant anymore.
The real function of the rape hypothetical is to force the Todd Akins of the world to make their premises explicit. The fertilized ovum being sacred, and having all the entitlements and endowments of a fully formed human being, its mother must inevitably be assigned the attributes of a heifer and made to carry the child to term at all hazards. (Indeed, her conduct could conceivably be policed to ensure that the fetus survives to term in good health.) The pain, inconvenience, danger, and expense to be experienced by the mere vessel count for nothing; the principle that the child’s existence is in no sense subservient or incomplete must be upheld, even if we never in any other way behave as though this principle were true, and even if no one really thought it was true until about 1965, and even if the implications are somewhat ridiculous.
That is the pro-life proposition, and the details of the child’s origin are ultimately tangential. But it’s not a coincidence that pro-lifers have, within their cultural cocoon, concocted a myth that deflects the rape issue—the edgiest of all the edge cases.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
Stephen Harper has apparently succeeded in angering both sides of the abortion debate.
“People who call themselves Christians need to take another look at what Christianity means to them and what it means to life,” Ms. Kearney said, standing with her friends under a light drizzle and cloudy skies. The Prime Minister calls himself a Christian, she said. “I’m not judging him because I don’t know the man. But, if you call yourself a Christian, then you should believe in life from conception.”
More on today’s rally from the CBC. Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’s issued an invitation today to anyone who would like to contact him about his motion. He has also put together this video to explain his initiative.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The New Democrats have said they will unanimously oppose Stephen Woodworth’s motion—which, as private members’ business, would generally be considered a free vote—and Jeff Jedras argues that the Liberals should whip their vote.
If this issue is as fundamentally important as our messaging makes it out to be (and I believe it is), why are we not whipping this vote? If Harper not killing a private members bill is evidence he supports it, what does it say when the Liberal leadership lets its members vote for it? How are we any different? And worse, we’re launching petition drives and releasing pious press releases while pretending to be different. It’s ridiculous, and we’re setting ourselves up to look like hypocritical idiots.
As noted last night, the government’s chief whip spoke against Mr. Woodworth’s motion during the first hour of debate. During QP, the Prime Minister said it was “unfortunate” that the motion had reached the House floor. The NDP sent out a news release yesterday calling on the Prime Minister to prevent Conservative MPs from bringing forward initiatives related to abortion.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 7:39 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly before 5:30pm, Stephen Woodworth was on his feet from the back row. Close around him sat eight other Conservative MPs.
“Motion 312,” he said, “simply calls for a study of the evidence of when a child becomes a human being.”
He wondered aloud what opponents of his proposal had to fear. Staring directly at the dozen NDP MPs seated across the way he called on them to hear the evidence.
Fourteen spectators watched and listened from the south gallery. Four Liberals joined the New Democrats on the opposition side of the House. The Conservatives numbered somewhere in the neighbourhood of 24.
Mr. Woodworth spoke loudly and gesticulated dramatically, as if addressing the nation at a moment of great significance. He invoked rights and humanity and science and parliamentary duty and he damned a “dishonest law.” When he was done, a dozen Conservatives applauded. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
At 5:30pm this evening the House will hold an hour of debate on Stephen Woodworth’s proposal that a special committee be struck to study Section 223(1) of the Criminal Code. That portion of the Code states that “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 it has breathed; it has an independent circulation; or the navel string is severed.”
The motion will receive a second hour of debate before being voted on, but this evening might offer the first indications of who will be supporting Mr. Woodworth.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:47 AM - 154 Comments
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada apparently figures there are 124 “pro-choice” MPs and 120 “anti-abortion” MPs in the current Parliament, with 64 votes unaccounted for (a “pro-life” rally on Parliament Hill last week drew approximately 20 MPs). Though given the divergent views on the topic—as noted by Chris Selley—those titles might be overly simplified.
By Kate Lunau - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 12:50 PM - 5 Comments
‘The Abortion Monologues’ premiered last year in Portland
A new play set to open in Calgary is stirring up controversy before the actors even take the stage. The Abortion Monologues, which will be performed on Feb. 4 at Mount Royal University, features dramatic monologues from 23 fictional female characters “at all ages and stages of reproductive life” speaking about their experiences with abortion, says author Jane Cawthorne.
Cawthorne, who left a job teaching women’s studies at Mount Royal a couple of years ago to pursue writing full-time, spent two decades volunteering with not-for-profit groups in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights; the play was inspired by some of the stories she heard. “I felt that the public discussion on abortion was polarized, and didn’t reflect what goes on in the real lives of women,” says the Calgary-based writer, who describes herself as pro-choice. Last year, The Abortion Monologues premiered in Portland, Ore., to a crowd of almost 400 people; roughly 300 are expected at next week’s performance, with tickets almost sold out.