Green Party leader Elizabeth May weighs in on abortion

Green Party leader Elizabeth May
weighs in on abortion

The new leader of the green party has
upset the pro-choice crowd when she shared her view of abortion. You
can read all
of it here

Her position is simple. She believes
that “all life is sacred” but that if Canada criminalize
abortions “women would seek out whatever butcher they could
find…and they would die horrible deaths.” She goes on to say
“I’ve talked women out of having abortions. I would never have
an abortion myself.” Her approach would be to “have a
different kind of conversation? What kind of programs and strategies
do we need to reduce the number of legal abortions take place?”

I think this the approach the
anti-abortion folks should take. I think criminalization of abortion
is a poor strategy. It is unlikely to happen, it comes with serious
baggage, and ‘m not sure how effective it would be.

Some of the pro-choice zealots are
having a fit over May’s comments. I picked these up in the comments
over at Abandoned

“I think I was most disgusted
when May bragged about giving medical advice to young women she’s
totally and completely unqualified to give.”

According to this person abortion is a
private medical issue.

“I am not just expressing an
opinion, and you are not just debating my opinions. You are
questioning my civil rights; you are inviting a discussion on your
blog of of women’s right to the full personal autonomy that is due
any human being by virtue of being a human being.”

Notice how this person chooses to frame
the issue one way. This is a discussion about womens rights only.

“Elizabeth May is a garden tool
and an embarrassment to womankind. An abortion is not a tragedy, it
is a medical procedure. Nothing more and nothing less.”

“The zygote does not have the
same rights as the pregnant woman. No. The zygote has no rights. It
doesn’t even get last rites. It doesn’t have citizenship. Most
are flushed before there is anything anyone in their right mind would
call “life”. The zygote is a parasite living off the body
resources of the hostess. And if she is unwilling to be the hostess
the parasite has no rights at all.”

Keep in mind this person isn’t
referring to an actual Zygote (fertilized egg before becoming an
embryo). This person is calling an unborn human a parasite.

These commenters are sure that woman
have an inalienable right to an abortion and an unborn human has
none? How can they be so sure? What criteria can be used?

How does one determine what is a
human right?

According to the preamble of the
Declaration of Human rights
they are a recognition of the
inherent dignity and equal value of all people. Another example, the
declaration of Independence
finds that human rights are
self-evident truths. If human rights are inherent or self-evident
one would have to establish that a right would be commonly
acknowledged by multiple cultures and societies. If that is the case
it would be difficult to say that an unborn human has no rights after
6 months of gestation.

There is a general consensus that
humans have some rights in the last term of gestation

Most countries have laws restricting
late term abortions. Some
have indicated that more than half of Canadians believe
that the unborn have some value and should be protected under law.
According to a Gallup Poll in 2001 over half of all Canadians
believed that abortion should only be legal in certain circumstances.

An October 2005 Environics poll found
that a majority of Canadians favour legal protection of unborn human life. To be
fair the results of these types of polls seems to change with the
question. A Nov 2002 National Post poll found that a majority
believed women should have complete freedom on their decision to have
an abortion. In a really strange finding a Gallup poll taken in April 2005 found 20% of Canadians want
abortion laws to be “less strict”. Odd because

Canada doesn’t have any laws
restricting abortion.

The right to an abortion has not
been determined to be a “charter

The Canadian Supreme Court struck
down an existing law
restricting access to abortion but never
explicitly determined a woman’s right to an abortion. The court has
never ruled whether an unborn human has rights either.

I see two major social issues that have
arisen because the unborn are treated as if they have no rights.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

is caused by women who drink during pregnancy. FAS causes a number
of complications. The rate of FAS is very
high among aboriginals
and has become issue for the health system
and law enforcement. If an unborn human has no rights, and a woman
has full rights over her body, then it would be logical to conclude
that a pregnant woman has every right to drink during pregnancy
regardless of the dire long term consequences.

Sex-selective Abortions

In Chinese and Indian cultures males
are preferred to females. In Chinese
and Indian communities an imbalance has a occurred the the male to
female birth ratio. Males are born significantly more frequently
than females. The social complications of this are readily apparent.
If abortion is only a private medical issue then what right does
society have to stop sex-selective abortions?

I think the idea that the unborn have
absolutely no rights is short sighted. It hasn’t been proven to me.
It is the product of a society that willing to sacrifice others on
the altar of individualism.

  1. #1 by BD on December 10, 2006 - 2:32 am

    …and you’ve decided to go here because…?

  2. #2 by LT on December 10, 2006 - 10:27 am

    When I was reading the thread over at Saskboy I was really surprised at how people were reacting. I think May has a perfectly reasonable position.

  3. #3 by beck on December 10, 2006 - 11:56 pm

    Abortion is a very important issue to me, but I’ll be the first to admit my opinions on the subject are almost entirely ruled by my emotions. So thanks for the post… It’s given me some stuff to think about.

  4. #4 by M.K. on December 12, 2006 - 10:48 pm

    Interesting post.

    I’m glad to read that the leader of the Green Party has actually talked women out of having an abortion.

    It goes to show that issues that affect life at the most basic level can even cross political party lines.

  5. #5 by Paul Johnston on December 13, 2006 - 12:54 pm

    Moderate voices within mainstream/traditional churches are going to have to unite, at least politically, if we ever hope to effect some sort of legal protection for the unborn in this country.

    Allowing the debate to be primarily “framed” and engaged in, by those whose feminist principals inhibit concern for the unborn and those whose religeous principals inhibit compassion towards the human suffering of unwanted pregnancies, has only made a tragic situation, worse.

    Another sad reminder that when the moderate many choose weakness, the radical few grow strong.

    Excellent post, Leighton. Well done.

  6. #6 by Paul Johnston on December 13, 2006 - 3:16 pm

    …hmm…is it better to say, “when the moderate many choose silence, the radical few gain voice”…less judgemental, anyways.

  7. #7 by Ryan Androsoff on December 17, 2006 - 2:43 pm

    Leighton – as usual you do an excellent job of taking a reflective look at a controversial issue and not cloud your analysis by rhetoric and emotion.

    This is such a difficult issue for many reasons, not the least of which is because all the arguments revolve around two questions that can not be resolved to a common agreement: When does life begin? What is the relative balance of rights between the unborn (un-alive?) and the born?

    But in the same way that the far right can go way beyond the realm of what is reasonable in this debate, so can too the far left as you point out. To claim that abortion is not a tragedy…well I just don’t understand that. I know a number of women who have had miscarriages, and in every instance it was a tragic event for them. Of course I have no first hand experiance, but one can only assume that if a woman makes the decision to end a pregnancy it would be equally if not more tragic?

    Life sometimes is about tragic choices and decisions, and that is okay. But we shouldn’t pretend that it is anything other than that.

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