In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.
The war against girls is rooted in centuries-old tradition and sustained by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics which, in combination with government policies, accelerate the elimination of girls.
Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl reveals the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.
Hey guys, first of all Happy Holidays from your friends here at UTSFL. Now onto the main topic: a few weeks ago the always brilliant Margaret Summerville made a speech here at U of T on the subject of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, a topic which is of great relevance to us today because, at this moment as many of you know, the Supreme Court is reviewing a motion from British Columbia about whether to revisit legalizing euthanasia, on a flimsy legal technicality that would overrule an earlier 1993 case which held that Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia were constitutionally illegal. Dr. Summerville also mentioned similar cases going on right now in Belgium where they, after legalizing euthanasia a number of years ago, are at this moment in discussion about whether to allow euthanasia in cases of minors below the age of 18, an extremely troubling concept I will get to later on.
However, as I was doing my research for this topic, I found that euthanasia was not a debate that was limited to Canada and Belgium. A brief Google search revealed a powerfully worded article from New Zealand condemning euthanasia on demand (citing, who else, Margaret Summerville) in regards to a euthanasia on demand bill proposed by an MP; a report from the French government’s president Francois Hollande recommending that French law continue to prohibit legal euthanasia, and a newsbyte from Ireland indicating a grassroots movements to challenge those countries’ laws on the subject, and that was without even scrolling to the bottom of the page! It seems that all over the world people and governments are grappling with the issue of whether or not doctors, or anyone else for that matter, have the right to kill other people, and whether or not that decision should be effected by whether they wanted to die or not.
It seems ironic therefore that with all the worldwide debate on this issue that I found the best articulation of my feelings on the issue right here at home in the pages of the Globe and Mail from an article written 2 months ago (I know I am seriously behind on blogging but bear with me). Okay it wasn’t the Globe and Mail itself, but rather the Globe’s recitation of the argument made by the government in regards to the British Colombia case. In it, the government argues the case for the slippery slope that could lead people to taking their own lives in a moment of weakness. We often hear the slippery slope argument maligned in our society, and indeed it is often used irresponsibly, but in this situation, in my mind at least, it rings true.
After all, we all remember those people who said (and still do say) that abortion would, once legalized, be used in the vast majority of cases for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest or those pregnancies that risked the mother’s life, despite the fact that these cases represent the tiniest fraction of the actual uses of abortion. These cases appeal to the sense of compassion that we have, and indeed should have, when we are confronted with cases of people in awful situations that they didn’t ask for, trying to do the best they can. We as pro-lifers know the arguments, we know that the life that is about to be taken is valuable, that an innocent child should not held accountable for the crimes of its father, and that abortion will not undo the incredible trauma the women experiences, but will only make another victim. But for all of this, we should have a hard time being strong in our convictions for that person, just as we should have a hard time holding the hand of a person with advanced ALS and telling them that their life is valuable, that their worth comes, not from what they can do or how much pain they are in, but from who they are, even when the pain in their lives makes that life seem like they are not worth living. These situations don’t mean we are wrong, it means we are human.
However the question to me that this watershed moment of euthanasia debate worldwide evokes is, what next? What will be the consequences of this debate; where are we headed in terms of euthanasia? If indeed we do legalize euthanasia, in twenty years will the average patient asking their doctor to kill them look like a terminally ill patient in great pain with only hours left of life, or will they look like someone else? One of the article I looked at mentioned the possibility of “euthanasia counselling” in Belgium for those over the age of 80, where the government sends people to talk about whether euthanasia is right for them given their advanced age. Will the new face of euthanasia look like a terminally ill person, or an octogenarian convinced that their life has no value by people who don’t want to pay for their medical bills. Such pressure might seem absurd now, but the idea of one person legally killing another person seemed absurd not too long ago.
And then there are of course people with disabilities, particularly those with mental health issues who would, in my mind be particularly vulnerable. One of the key definitions of a person with mental health problems who needs society’s immediate help is intent to harm themselves or others, but what do we do to help these people if harming oneself becomes such a fundamental right that others must help you in your self destruction? Will the new face of euthanasia be a person in chronic unendurable pain or a person with a disease of the mind, a person with clinical depression who, in a moment of weakness brought about by a chemical imbalance, decides to ask a doctor, a person whom society sees as a trusted lifesaving professional, to take their life, but who, with the right medication, could live a normal life like the rest of us. This might seem like something that society would never allow, but are we are really so confident in our justice system and the will of our governments to take on controversial topics, that we can be certain that they will make a legal code so airtight as to remove all the loopholes? Or will the government, as they have done so often before with problems that were made without their consent, ignore the problem and hope it goes away?
And finally there are children: not only is there the disgusting examples of the Gottingen protocol in the Netherlands which allows a grace period to kill disabled children after they are born (believe me I couldn’t make this stuff up) but there is the example I cited earlier on in this post, about extending euthanasia to minors, which to me is a colossal problem in its own right. As of course you all know, children and particularly teenagers have a reputation of seeing the world through the lenses of, shall we say, the melodramatic. I certainly did, and I’m betting that if you look back at your own experiences you will find an instance or two of drama in your teenage years as well. Everything seems like it matters so much more when you are in high school, getting a date can make you feel like you are king of the world, but a bad grade, a stinging comment, a failed relationship, all of these things can make you feel like the world has just come to an cataclysmic end. Now imagine that there was someone there at your lowest moment of in life, someone telling you that there was a way to end it all, that death wasn’t a big deal and that the romance of dying young would teach everyone who had laughed at you how wrong they were. Now imagine that person was a doctor, someone whose job and status made you trust them implicitly, a person for whom your life long attendance at his appointments and your disclosure to him or your most personal medical secrets made you feel that you had a deep personal connection with them. Quick what would you do?
Because that’s the dirty little secret about the face of euthanasia if it was made legal on demand, it’s all of us. All of us have moments in our lives when we are low, not just those with incurable excruciating physical diseases. And that’s why we don’t as a society have doctors who make their money from providing the service of murder, convincing those among us who feel low that they have nowhere to go but down. We are at an unprecedented watershed, my friends, a point where we decide internationally the value of human life and whether those who help save it should also have the power to end it. The choice, like all choices in a democratic society inevitably falls to you.
Anyway this is my opinion about the issue, but I’m infinitely more interested in yours. What do you think the new face of euthanasia will look like? Will it be confined to only the small number of terminally ill patients in pain or proliferate to others? What do you think of the issue more broadly? Pro assisted suicide? Against it? Somewhere in between? Never really thought about it? Tired of the maniac on the message board asking you how you feel about these things? Please leave a comment in the comment section. Anything you have to say about the issue from any point of view (even if it’s to tell me that I am 100% wrong on everything, not the least of which being my atrocious grammar) is greatly appreciated.
Hey guys. I was reading a great article about Linda Gibbons the other day. We have talked about Ms. Gibbons before. She is an extremely brave women who has spent more than 10 of the last 20 years in prison for violating the temporary restraining order (among the longest “temporary” restraining orders in the country) that surrounds abortion clinics, often physically walking into abortion clinics to take her message that what she sees is wrong directly to the source. As a point of reference, legendary serial killer Karla Homolka was given 12 years for her role in the deaths in the rape murders of two teenagers and the rape of her own sister. Ms. Gibbons and her associate Mary Wagner, who has also found herself behind bars for her counseling of pregnant women inside the restraining order zone, were nominated for the Diamond Jubilee Medal by Conservative MP Maurice Vellacoit, and Ms. Wagner ended up receiving it. The Diamond Jubilee Medals are medals that each MP can give out to a certain amount of people, in this case 30, who have made a difference in the community. Now there can certainly be disagreement about whether or not you agree with these women’s policies. I certainly see the merit in arguments that pro-lifers must always keep their protests within the boundaries of the law, no matter how wrong that law is. Despite this, however, there can certainly be no doubt about these women’s courage and determination, standing up to a legal system that kills that those that it should be protected, even at the cost of their freedoms. This kicked off a very interesting conversation in my head about civil disobedience: how far would I, or anyone else I know, be willing to go to stop something that is as wrong as abortion? How far should we go? Some of the great rights movements of our time have, after all, been accomplished with the very type of civil disobedience that Ms. Gibbons and Ms. Wagner are employing, a point that Mr. Vellacoit made in his speech. It was this point in my reading that I came upon a different point of view, that of interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae. Rae pointed out that awarding an honour to someone who has broken the law crossed the line, and said that this could be used to incite others to break the law themselves. He then went further and said that Mr. Vellacoit had in fact broken the law by encouraging others to break the law. I love descriptions of the pro-lifers, or just people in general, in which politicians treat us as if we hold their opinion in such high esteem that if they gave a wink we would be burning down buildings. If this is how Mr. Rae feels at about this issue, however, I can certainly see where he is coming from. Politicians are, after all, necessarily protective of the laws that they helped to create. That is why I know that Mr. Rae will support the efforts to take the Order of Canada away from one Henry Morgentaler. Dr. Morgantaler was, in 1974, convicted of performing an illegal abortion, and has admitted to performing many more. I of course understand that Mr. Rae had nothing to do with giving Dr. Morgentaler the Order of Canada (for that we can thank the redoubtable Stephen Harper) but I am sure that he would agree that if giving the Order of Canada to a convicted law breaker such as Dr. Morgentaler were to stand, it could lead to encouraging people to break the law thinking it could get them honoured by their country. Such a thing would undermine the sanctity of Canadian law, as we know it. That is why I completely support Mr. Rae’s (implied) campaign to remove orders of prestige from Henry Morgentaler. Or maybe a little consistency really is too much to ask these days. Anyways, this is what I think, but I’m much more interested in what you think. What’s your opinion on abortion, or any of the other issues raised here? Please leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.
Hey guys! This is my first official post as your new co-webmaster and we are starting on a high note here. In our focus on euthanasia I am sure many of you are aware of the Rasouli case. For those of you who are not, this case was started by 2 doctors, right in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, who filed an affidavit because they “saw no medical purpose in keeping Mr. Rasouli on life support” after an infection resulting from surgery for a brain tumour left him in a persistent vegetative state. This case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where many believed it would be a new precedent setting case for euthanasia. The decision to pull the plug however was opposed by Mr. Rasouli’s family, who long said that they saw improvement in his condition. At this point let me say how disturbing I find this. This is not a case of a person asking themselves for the right to take their own life, or even a family member of a vegetative relative asking someone to pull the plug on their relative, but a doctor, with no consent from anyone, unilaterally making the decision of life and death over another human being. I have always had the greatest respect for doctors and their efforts to save the lives of others, but in my opinion and I think the opinions of many others, this puts a troubling amount of power in their hands. But there is good news to report in this case. It seems that Mr .Rasouli is, although not completely, recovering. An article in the Globe and Mail on Tuesday reported that Mr. Rasouli is able to voluntarily control certain gestures, including the ability to give a thumbs-up gesture to communicate (although not yet completely) with loved ones, answering verbal requests from his wife. Doctors report that, at the moment, Mr. Rasouli is conscious of the world around him and suggest that far from being in a persistent vegetative state, only a step away from brain death, he may be, at least partially, conscious but paralysed. This to me is a reminder of the incredible mystery of the human body and medicine, that we can say that someone will absolutely never get better, and that term persistent vegetative state is always one that you hear connected with that, and then the next day someone is communicating with their thumbs to their wife. Who knows what ways Mr. Rasouli will surprise us all if we give him a chance to heal his body. We simply do not know. However, shockingly, this new development have not caused doctors to stop their calls to pull him from life support, saying that they “remain of the view that the standard of care does not require continuation of mechanical ventilation given his condition.” Now there is no doubt that this is a horrible situation for Mr. Rasouli and his family to be in. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be paralysed, with almost no way to communicate with my loved ones. The pain and fear would no doubt be unimaginable. However, like all life issues, to me it comes down to the issue of who has the right to make that call? What right do doctors, who have already misdiagnosed him once and admitted that they are as yet unclear about what his prospects are, have to tell him that his life does not have value, that he does not give meaning and hope to his family and loved ones crouched around his hospital bed. What right does any human being have to tell another living, conscious, feeling human being that his existence means less to the world then the bed he is occupying and that they are better off dead? That’s what it comes down to for me anyway. What do you think my friends? Please comment, whether you are for or against this issue. I would love to talk to others and get their opinions about this issue.
Quite a different stance than this:
We don’t wish to take the country back in time; rather, we aspire to move it forward, beyond a time when women are treated as objects and pitted against their children and their religious institutions — and toward a time when truly emancipated women embrace their intrinsic dignity and, with it, their authentic womanhood.
…or at least that how it seems in Ohio (kind of makes sense since Viagra was first used to treat hypertension, but I digress). Here is this piece of non-sense as reported by the National Post:
Ohio State Senator Nina Turner is taking aim at the multitude of reproductive rights bills that have made waves in the United States this year — 430 thus far, by MSNBC’s count — by sponsoring a bill of her own: One that would force men to meet with sex therapists before being prescribed Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications.
Really, Turner’s beef is with Ohio’s House Bill 125, the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would not allow for an abortion to take place once the heart beat of the unborn child is detected. I guess having guys chat it up with a sex therapist before getting their Viagra is “levelling the playing field” against those neanderthals trying to save babies’ lives. Maybe Turner is also of the same clan who compare vaginal probes to rape, even though they are widely used on women before undergoing an abortion.
This quote was interesting:
“Women should not need a permission slip from government to take care of their own reproductive health.”
And unborn babies should not have the government compare their lives to erectile dysfunctions. This just goes to show what kind of lunacy can be accepted when you deny the personhood of the unborn child.
So, it looks like my post from last week has some critics. I thank Christine for the post and I was hoping for a little discussion on equality and rights for the unborn, but maybe next time (I guess debating the personhood of the unborn is tough?). In the comments section Christine said something interesting:
…and if my side is reactionary, yours is nothing but self-righteous…
That got me thinking. Are pro-lifers self-righteous? Do we feel morally superior to pro-choicers? Are we so absorbed with the rights of the unborn and abortion that we fail to find common ground with pro-choicers and work with them?
First, it is important to note that I am pro-life because I believe the pro-life side to be true. There is no other reason for me to be on this blog unless I am convinced that the unborn are persons and that others need to come to this realization, as well. Therefore, it is not a matter of I am right because I am so smart and wonderful, but rather it is a realization of the truth of the pro-life side and a desire to spread that message of the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.
Furthermore, I am not pro-life so that I can put other people beneath me and tell them what to do. I respect everyone’s freedom and choices because we are all human beings with free will. However, and I think even pro-choicers will agree with me, when that freedom impedes or harms another person, then you have crossed a line. Pro-choicers believe that by outlawing abortion we are impeding and harming women. However, any society that has to resort to abortion has failed women. If a woman has no support, is frightened and has no other alternatives then abortion is not a choice but rather a necessity. The last thing authentic pro-lifers want to do is to put women down or to make them feel even more scared than they may already feel. We understand that an unplanned pregnancy is a difficult situation to face for any woman. Therefore, there are pro-lifers who run crisis pregnancy centres so that women can have the support and care they need to ensure they choose life for their children. Crisis pregnancy centres have gotten a bad rap recently but, minus the media bias, they do more than Planned Parenthood when it comes to taking care of mothers and their children.
Now, I will grant the pro-choice side the fact that they truly want choice. I just want to ask a question: What are pro-choicers doing to ensure that pregnant women actually have a choice? I do not know of any pro-choice pregnancy centres but if they are helping pregnant women in any way, please let me know.
I think pro-choicers may also believe we are self-righteous because there are some pro-lifers, although not all, who disagree with birth control. Not only are we taking away a woman’s right to choose, but we are telling her what to do in the privacy of her own bedroom (nevermind the fact that there are pro-choicers in the States who would like to keep us out of their bedrooms but pick up the tab, but that will be for another post). The University of Toronto Students for Life has no opinion on birth control (unless, of course, they can act as abortifacients) but you cannot deny the link between birth control and abortion. In fact, the United States Supreme Court had this to say in the 1992 ruling of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey:
But to do this would be simply to refuse to face the fact that, for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.
In other words, abortion has to remain legal because for the last few decades it has been available as “back-up birth control”. It is quite logical once you think about it. However, pro-lifers bring it up because it is true not because we are so wonderful at self-control and we think that women who use contraception are heathens.
In addition, pro-lifers are not trying to solely work through the courts to get rid of abortion. We are, primarily, trying to raise awareness on the ground level through dialogue and education. We do this in sun or rain and whether it is warm or freezing cold. We realize that raising awareness for the rights of the unborn is something that needs to be done not for our sake but for the sake of those who do not have a voice.
Finally, the reason pro-lifers usually do not try to find common ground with pro-choicers is that we believe in the personhood of the unborn and they do not. If you truly believe that the unborn are human beings who have rights then abortion can never be a choice. How can you justify murdering someone when you acknowledge that they have rights like you and me? Does that mean it is okay for someone to murder you for any reason? If pro-choicers, for example, want to help at crisis pregnancy centres that is great. However, we will not allow anyone to tell a woman that if all else fails then it would be alright to murder her child. That should never be a choice. The most bogus claim is when a person says that they believe that the unborn are persons but they themselves should stay out of the woman’s “choice”. That is not acceptable. If your neighbour was beating his wife every night would you say to yourself, “spousal abuse is wrong but I am going to stay out of it.”? I would hope you would have the courage to call the police. All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing. Again, it is truth that drives us to speak up against abortion, not that it makes us feel good and mighty.
I hope I have done a good enough job at pointing out why pro-lifers are not self-righteous. If I have missed anything, please comment
Really? I thought that’s what pro-lifers have been saying for the last little while, but don’t trust us! Trust the experts!
Seriously, though, this article in the British Medical Journal is callous. It really goes to show what kind of mentality arises when there is no respect for life. What stood out for me is that for a medical journal article there is a lot of talk about “personhood”, which is really a philosophical issue instead of a scientific one. And in terms of verbal gymnastics, check out this little somersault on the issue:
we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’,
to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.
Disgusting. In order to feel better about the killing of a newborn they use the euphemism of “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide”. Not only does it lessen the personhood of the newborn, it sounds nicer too. Win Win! Again, I ask why is there talk of moral status of an individual in a scientific journal? How can you perform experiments in a lab regarding personhood?
Science already has a term to describe a fetus, a newborn and a child: Human life.