9/28/2012

Motion 312 and Rona Ambrose

It has recently been suggested by some groups that Conservative MP Rona Ambrose ought to resign from her position as the Minister of State for Status of Women Canada. Ostensibly, the reason for this suggestion is that her vote in support of Motion 312 is necessarily "anti-woman." This post is not really about abortion, but about the sentiment expressed above. Should Minister Ambrose really resign? Was her vote necessarily "anti-woman?" Did her position as he Minister of State for Status of Women require that she vote against Motion 312? I'd like to look at Motion 312:
That a special committee of the House be appointed and directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth and to answer the questions hereinafter set forth; that the membership of the special committee consist of twelve members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair shall be from the government party; that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the membership report of the special committee be presented to the House no later than 20 sitting days after the adoption of this motion; that substitutions to the membership of the special committee be allowed, if required, in the manner provided by Standing Order 114(2); that the special committee have all the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders; and that the special committee present its final report to the House of Commons within 10 months after the adoption of this motion with answers to the following questions, (i) what medical evidence exists to demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth?, (ii) is the preponderance of medical evidence consistent with the declaration in Subsection 223(1) that a child is only a human being at the moment of complete birth?, (iii)what are the legal impact and consequences of Subsection 223(1) on the fundamental human rights of a child before the moment of complete birth?, (iv)what are the options available to Parliament in the exercise of its legislative authority in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm, amend, or replace Subsection 223(1)?

Notice what Motion 312 sets forth. It requests that a special committee be appointed to examine the question of whether or not an unborn child is, in fact, a human being. It requests that medical evidence be examined, that any legal ramifications be examined and discussed and that Parliament consider what its options are with respect to Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. Notice what Motion 312 does not say. It does not call into question the rights of women. It does not even bring up the question of abortion, though certainly that question would come up if the motion had passed. And yet, we are expected to accept the argument that a support of the motion is necessarily "anti-woman" and therefore something to be ashamed of.

I am curious, when did the discussion of difficult topics become "anti-women?" The discussion surrounding abortion is quite complex, dealing with the intersecting rights of both women and their infants, and there are many positions which ought to be considered. Framing the discussion as merely a "anti-choice/pro-life versus pro-abortion/pro-choice" is simply flawed. The issues of sexuality and abuse (especially violence during pregnancy) also run in tandem with the issue of abortion. If, as a nation, we want to take women's issues seriously, then I do not see how we can possibly fail to discuss something as deeply relevant to women as abortion.
To be sure, the discussion will be difficult. However, I am of the opinion that there is no need to fear a difficult conversation. Indeed, I would argue that strong-minded women desire such conversations. They are not afraid of medical facts or of having their opinions examined. An argument, if it is true, will withstand any battering a lie might give it. As Churchill said "The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is."

I would suggest that the demand that Minister Ambrose resign is problematic for feminists. On a more personal level, I find the suggestion insulting. Canadians, be they male or female, vote for those individuals we think will best represent us. We do that by considering both the individual's personal views and also the party's position. If someone is voted into a particular office, then Canadians expect them to act on the principles that they were voted in on. We do not tell our politicians, regardless of the party they run for, that they must for some unthinkable reason, leave their principles at the door. (And, in case you are wondering, this is also why I do not approve of the party whip. I understand why it exists, but I believe it to be wrong.) One cannot embrace democracy and stifle it at the same time. How can women on the one hand desire greater representation in Parliament, while at the same time insisting that the views these elected women espouse should conform to their own opinions? Do you require men to hold your opinions? Do you insist that they resign when they do not? Is this not hypocritical? Women do not all hold the same views on any subject and more women in Parliament will necessarily mean a greater diversity of opinion. This is something to be embraced, not feared.

2 comments:

Alain said...

Oh dear, the poor woman voted in favour of having a discussion with the intent to base our understanding of human life on modern medical science rather than remain with an understanding outdated by four centuries. I was unaware that women or the Left rejected modern science, but they have proved me wrong. There was nothing whatsoever in this bill that proposed outlawing abortion, but then when have facts ever stood in the way of the agenda-driven.

Cheryl said...

And you just keep telling yourself that, Alain. Ms Ambrose knew she was voting for more than an innocent little chat. She knew she was opening a door under false pretences and the end result of said chat would be removing women's choice regarding abortion. Or worse, she wasn't bright enough to see that agenda. Either way- she has proven herself incapable of performing as an advocate for the Status of Women- unless we are talking the status of second class citizen, with no reproductive rights. Hmmm maybe she could go down south and join Romney's camp. They also oppose women's choice because they believe women can prevent pregnancy at will. Backwards thinking. She'd fit right in.

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