Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Within These Walls

Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star gets it right in her column today about the legal rights of fetuses, reacting to the recent murder of Aysun Sesen, 7 months pregnant who's fetus could not be saved after several knife wounds to the abdomen. Ms. Zerbisias acknowledges that the recent law signed by Mr. Bush in 2004, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, excludes "the prosecution of any provider of consensual abortion, those attempting to treat a pregnant woman, and the woman herself." The debate did drag on for months and indeed, regardless of the exclusion, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is a paving of the way to make abortion in the USA illegal with the simple strike-through tool of an amendment. Dialogue in Canada about the rights of fetuses is opened in cases like Sesen's, and I appreciate that Zerbisias doubts that giving a fetus legal status won't make a difference in the appalling death rate of pregnant women. I appreciate her criticism of pregnant women being objectified as vessels, frightened with media scares like toxoplasmosis.

To take Ms. Zerbisias's position just a little further, I ask the question, "Who benefits from giving the unborn legal status?" A murdered woman? A dead fetus? Not so. Groups that would like to see abortion criminalized in Canada? Ah... yes. You see, writing a law - words on paper - protect and prevent nothing. Women are being murdered. It's illegal, but it's happening. Pregannt women are being murdered. In Canada a woman is raped every 17 minutes. The violence is a problem that is not solved by simply making a law. But the dialogue that surrounds these laws can be significantly positive or become problematic like giving a fetus legal rights. My sympathies to the family and friends of Aysun Sesen, who no longer will hear their sister/daughter/niece/auntie laughing. May we remember Aysun Sesen as a woman with a life, a face, and may we raises our voices against violence against us. The violence of poverty, of inequality, of our sexuality and the violence against our wombs.

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