Thursday, March 06, 2008

Against C-484: Conservatives Believe Life Begins At Conception.

There is currently a bill being considered in our government, it's stated aim is to make it a crime "to injure, cause the death of or attempt to cause the death of a child before or during its birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother." And though Bill C-484 sounds quite common-sensical, it's substance is at odds with common scientific understanding.

First let me make clear the Conservatives are using untrue and false representations of the substance of this bill. Though C-484 does not directly affect the debate on making abortion illegal, it does affect the basis for it.

Consider the current law in Canada in this section of the Criminal Code of Canada:

238. (1) Every one who causes the death, in the act of birth, of any child that has not become a human being, in such a manner that, if the child were a human being, he would be guilty of murder, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.
Now that current law allows for lawyers, judges, and juries to consider the devlopment of the fetus in determining punishment. For if in an attack was conducted on a woman who was 6 weeks pregnant, where the embryo is just a collection of cells, and was terminated as a result, the penalty would not be as grave as if it was a fetus that was 10 weeks and further developed.

This current law embodies the scientific fact that no one can identify the precise moment when a Unborn Human Child (UHC) becomes alive. Thus just as in the medical field, the legal stance is that becoming alive is a process, and thus the stages of development must be considered in making a judgement determining the degree of punishment.

However Bill C-484 disregards this scientific view of human life, and instead it states development stages do not matter and termination of the UHC at any stage deserves at minimum 10 years in jail. This is evident in the first section of C-484:
"238.1 (1) Every person who, directly or indirectly, causes the death of a child during birth or at any stage of development before birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother of the child, who the person knows or ought to know is pregnant,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10 years . . ."
By stating in this new Bill, that if a person kills a woman at any stage of pregnancy that person would have an additional minimum 10 years added to their punishment, even if the UHC was in its embryonic stage and thus by most, if not all scientific accounts, not alive; this bill is saying that an embryo is just as much alive as an UHC that is 9 months old. With that conclusion, the implication of this Bill is that life then must begin at conception.

The problem is, beyond the philosophical invalidity of that implication, Science would heavily disagree. It is impossible to suggest that an embyo, without a nervous system, without major organs, without any form of a developed brain, without any cognitive abilities whatsover is the same or has an equal claim at being alive as a 9 month old Unborn Human Child that has a nervous system, functioning and fully developed organs, a further developed brain, and elementry cognitive abilities.

In conclusion when one considers the scientific understanding of becoming alive as a process, and therefore the viability of Section 238(1) of the Criminal Code, it is evident that Bill C-484 is actually at odds with common scientifically held views and attempts to establish that life begins at conception which cannot be defended.


Anonymous said...

Apparently over 20 Liberals voted to support the bill as well...hardly exclusive Conservative territory. And Dion's absence is hardly worthy of a leader IMO...

Anonymous said...

A majority of the party determines Party policy, therefore with almost all Conservatives voting for something, and only 20 of 90 Liberals voting for it, I would have to say you are mistaken.

Koby said...

Of course life begins at conception. When else would life begin? You have fallen for the "pro life" line and you did not even realize it.

When it comes to abortion the question is not when does life begin what rather when does personhood. Personhood is the criteria we as a society use at the end of life (think of the notion of brain dead), it should be the category we use at the beginning.

Anonymous said...

26 Liberals voted for it. Almost 1/3 of the Liberal caucus.

The Liberal Party allows free votes on Private Member Bills.

One NDP MP voted for this bill.

THis is not a 'conservative' bill. The question was asked about this bill in a recent Angus Reid poll in which 74% of respondents agreed with it.

Majority rules.

Anonymous said...

Koby: If life begins at conception, then the philosophical implications would be that everything can be considered alive. You would then have to suggest that your argument is based on the potential of the zygote in becoming a full fledged person. Well then why isn't a sperm and an egg when they are seperate given that distinction? It's quite clear you can't argue in that line. I would ask to present an argument that suggests life begins at conception.

Anonymous said...

Anon: It was a Conservative Bill, it was proposed by a Conservative. And as you said Majority rules, so 26 Liberals does not mean a majority.

If you could point out this angus reid poll I would really like to read it.

foottothefire said...

Anti-abortionists are like flies on shit, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Foot: Well you have to respect that they are passionate. I just wish the ones that comment provided reasons.


Koby said...

That is some weird ass pantheism you are ascribing to me Scott. I would love to be in the room when you tell a stupefied pro life advocate that needs to be careful the next time he wanks off because according to his way of thinking each one of his little guys has the same status as a fertizerlized egg, viz., all are human beings.

Anyway look saying that the one can potentially make muffins out of muffin mix does not commit me philosophically to saying that sugar and flour and whatever else goes into making the muffin mix are also potential muffins.

Anonymous said...

Koby: I have no clue what you are referencing. In my post I said that development stages matter in determining when life begins. Life does not begin at conception. Life does not begin in the sperm and egg. I repeat, I never even implied that life begins at conception or at any time before