Saturday, January 19, 2008

That bus ad

Only in Hamilton could something like this happen. Well, Fredricton too, as it turns out.

A pro-life group took out a series of bus shelter ads questioning the fact that an abortion can still be legally obtained at nine months in Canada. Nine months. Far as I'm aware, there is no other jurisdiction on the planet that allows open-ended access to abortion from conception to partum. Most other places set a dividing line when restrictions kick in ... generally anywhere from 16 to 28 weeks. Some countries technically "ban" abortions but they are available; the performing physicians simply reclassify them as "miscarriages" to stay out of trouble.

The group raised, I think, an important topic for debate. And at first, the ads when up without question. What happened, you may ask? After just a few "complaints," Hamilton ordered the ad agency that handles the bus ads here, CBS (yes, that CBS), to remove them. (Earlier, Fredricton decided to not go with the ads at all.)

I may be pro-life but that does not shape my opinion about this because I generally oppose many of the tactics of many so called "pro-life" groups. It's censorship, and to call it anything other than that is ignorance.

That does not change the fact that 20 years after the Morgentaler decision which struck down the reformed "John Turner" law, we need to have a debate in the country on where the dividing line should be, and and the same time what steps we should take that no child is ever unwanted in Canada. A general reluctance to do so, since a 1991 attempt to put in a law that would comply with Supreme Court of Canada guidelines was defeated by the Senate on a tie vote, is in itself a form of censorship no less than puling this ad was.

On the flip side, when the worker's comp wanted to run some graphic ads about workplace safety, the city objected only later to back down and accept them. What a blatant contradiction. We're okay with supermarkets and grocery stores putting in your face magazines of very pregnant women like Jamie Lynn Spears and Christina Aguilera; and we're not okay with an anonymous pregnant woman at nine months? Where are our priorities?

I've written on this board and its predecessor about the need for better low income support, as well as to streamline adoption procedures for children in Canadian foster care so they have the same right to a warm loving home as foreign adoptees. Those steps as well as a real day care strategy would make a substantial dent in the number of abortions. And I'd be quite comfortable with the law drawing the line at viability (generally between 20 to 28 weeks).

But the debate should be engaged. Pushing it under the rug does no one -- pro-life or pro-choice -- any good.

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April Reign (aka Debra) said...

I can assure you no woman goes through nine months of pregnancy to suddenly say, fuck it, I'm done..abortion time.

The problem with set in stone "time limits" is that it makes no accounting for the various dangers inherent in pregnancy.

For instance if your cut off is 28 weeks and you find out at 30 weeks that your fetus has anencephalitis should you be forced to give birth?

What if you develop toxemia, a disease of pregnancy of unknown cause and the only cure being delivery. What if, as happened to my friend that kicks in at point in pregnancy where some feel it would 'wrong' to abort. Should the woman die?

You and others who want to legislate what happens in womens wombs are playing life and death with womens lives. And especially as it is not an issue you will ever face, what gives you that right?

Canajun said...

To be honest about it, other than believing abortion to be a decision between a woman and her god/conscience, I haven't given it a whole lot of thought in terms of fetal development, etc. But I do have to respond to your comment: "But the debate should be engaged.".

Is it even possible to have a debate on this subject?

It seems to me that the vocal minorities on both sides of the issue would prefer to indulge in screaming fits and name calling rather than have a quiet, rational discussion of the options, implications and alternatives available for pregnant women. Sad, really.

Gayle said...

I disagree.

Attacking the fact that abortions are legal at all stages of pregnancy is simply a veiled attack on a woman's right to choose. Here is why:

No one, NO ONE, who wants an abortion will wait 9 months to get it. Even if they would (and they won't), no doctor would perform it.

Women who become pregnant and want to terminate that pregnancy will do so as soon as possible. The only reason to terminate a late-term pregnancy is if the fetus is not viable because of a genetic defect, in which case doctors will perform the abortion.

Creating straw-man arguments about the availabilty of late term abortions clouds this question with issues that are not in fact reality.

There is no need to set a time when abortions are illegal, and I do not think from my reading of Morgentaller that the government can do that. This is best left to the medical profession to regulate. There is nothing in the Charter that says a doctor must perform an abortion if asked to do so by a patient.

S.K. said...

The ads are completely misleading and false.

They are twisting the fact that we dont have laws strictly making late term abortions illegal, into saying that abortions happen at nine months in canada, which they do not.

Canada has decided not to have legislation on abortion, specifically, which is fine. Neither does the US by the way. The law is about privacy in the US, where they do, do late term abortions.

There are absolutely NO abortions done on viable foetuses in Canada. Non whatsoever.

Even for a later miscarriage (after 20 weeks) in Canada, the parents have to "make arrangements" with a funeral home, much to the dismay of many women.

If miscarriages after 20 weeks, require funeral services in Canada, I can assure you there are no abortions done at 9 months. This is a complete fabrication based on the fact that there is no law, per say outlawing it. We dont need a law outlawing it because it doesn't happen.

Sometimes non viable pregnancies may be ended late term for congenital deformaties such as anacephalus, but I can assure you, the parents have to "make arrangements"

These are not abortions. These are non viable pregnancies.

Chantal Daigle, whose case struck down the abortion laws in Canada, had to go to the US to obtain a late term abortion, once the case was decided because she could not get one in Canada, not at Morgentaler's clinic, not anywhere.

I'm not really sure what the point of these false ads are other than they are probably accompanied by pictures of late term foetuses, in a grossly mileading manner, in a n attempt to convince people that anything remotely resembling it could be aborted in Canada.

If for some reason these ads were to be taken seriously and move people enough to have a government committee set up, the first thing they would hear is that it doesn't happen in Canada, never has, never will, case closed.

The point of these ads is the photo.

Suzanne said...

There are abortions done at nine months. They're just not counted as abortions. They're coded as "stillbirths" in most provinces and don't make the abortion statistics.

A 2002 report from the Quebec College of Physicians on 1998 perinatal mortality statistics noted quite a few abortions done in the third trimester, including two done at 36 weeks.

The report from the Quebec College of Physicians is here:

You can get the summary on my blog here:

There's also a famous case of an abortion performed at 35 weeks at the Foothills Hospital in 1999.

Not only was the abortion attempted, and the baby survived, and the mother consequently asked for help for the baby. The baby survived and the hospital let him die. No charges were laid. citing StatsCan, says that in 2004, at least 35 abortions were performed between 25 and 33 weeks-- and those were the ones that were counted. Some late-term abortions aren't counted because it would make it easy to identify the mother.

If the baby is going to die anyway, why take the trouble to kill him? France is moving towards perinatal palliative care, which is far more humane.

The process of late-term abortion in Canada is extremely cruel. Much of the time, it consists of a prostaglandin abortion, with feticide. The feticide consists of taking a syringe of potassium chloride and jabbing it in the heart of the unborn child. It takes about two minutes for death to be confirmed. Lawyers in a death penalty case in front of the US Supreme Court argue that potassium chloride causes an excruciating sensation of burning. The unborn child gets no anesthetic. For two minutes the baby suffers excruciatingly from this injection of poison and dies of a heart attack.

Late-term abortions do occur for perfectly treatable conditions such as cleft chin. Margaret Somerville said on CTV's the Verdict that she was consulted for a 32-week abortion for a cleft chin.

It's simply a question of finding a person to do it.

It shouldn't be legal. We wouldn't don't even treat animals that way. We shouldn't treat other sentient creatures that way, either.

As to the idea that abortions are not done on viable fetuses, that is simply untrue.

I have documented an abortion done on a 27-week fetus in Quebec circa 2005. The reason he was aborted was that he was partially missing a 21st chromosome. He did have some malformations, but the thesis from which I pulled the information showed that they were minor:

Down's Syndrome Babies, Spina Bifida babies are usually aborted. These are not fatal conditions. Some of these are late-term.

Even with conditions like Trisomy 13 and 18, these babies are not considered "viable", but that's because so many are aborted, they're not given a chance to survive and beat the odds! It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As a reference, here is a website about Trisomy 13 babies who've lived.

I would also like to add that prenatal tests have been known to be wrong, and unborn babies die because of them.

S.K. said...

I will repeat given the false assumptions and assertions made in the previous post. There are absolutely no VIABLE late term abortions done in Canada. Any doctor doing them would be risking his/her licence. Any non-viable pregnancies that are terminated late term require funeral arrangements, by law.

The only viable trisomy is trisomy 21, Down's Syndrome. The others are non viable. Anacelphalous, missing renal systems, Tay sachs etc could be terminated late term but a funeral home would have to be called for arrangements.

These are not abortions, they are induced deliveries of non viable foetuses. Don't be an ass and don't tell doctors how to do their jobs or women how to care for themselves or their families.

A woman who wanted an abortion late term would simply be told to have the baby and put it up for adoption. At some point in time, certainly by 38 weeks, which is not even considered premature, an induced labour is a birth.

I can 100% guarentee that at 38 weeks a baby is not even premature so to spout garbage like 38 week old foetuses are being aborted in Canada is just that, garbage and lies and deliberate misinformation.

This is why as a previous commentor stated, there is no reason to have a "debate in Canada" because pro life advocates, don't reason, they don't listen to science or fact, or have any concern for anyone but themselves and their own selfish and narrow belief system.

The debate has been had in the medical community and within the Physicians college. Viablility is the standard. Non-viable can be aborted. Viable can't. End of debate. It's called science and medical ethics and medical standards.

I'm sure that Harper would like very much to tell doctors how to do their jobs. I'm also sure the Canadian electorate would vote him out of office shortly there after if he did.

S.K. said...

By the way Suzanne, you don't decide what is viable, science does.

BlastFurnace said...

Great comments from all of you, in particular from Debra, Shoshana and Suzanne.

Just to clarify a few things:

First, while viability is where I'd draw the line for unrestricted abortions it is by no means the point after which all abortions would be banned. Of course, if a pregnancy causes risk to a woman's mental or physical health or if the fetus is itself at risk then of course it should be permitted, no matter how uncomfortable I and many others feel about it. Indeed I have some women friends who had to have a later term termination for precisely that reason.

What I'm driving at is later term abortions done out of convenience. Frankly, I too seriously doubt most women at that stage would do so, but unfortunately there are some.

Second, I wrote this post to point out the inherent fallacy of the dichotomy argument -- that it's an all or nothing position. Because we're so close to the States, we are inevitably influenced by the debate there. There are middle ground positions, ones which could bridge the reasonable camps on both sides.

As well, I recognize that if a dialogue were to occur in this country on the issue, we might very well end up with the status quo. That's all well and good. I'm just saying having a dialogue is something that should be considered. The position taken by the authorities here that because some people are offended there should be no debate at all, has in fact gotten people talking ... as seen by the letters in the op-ed pages of today's local paper and in other online chat forums. That can only be a good thing.

I support freedom of speech. I don't support the attempts by some pro-lifers to stifle dialogue by the pro-choice camp and vice versa. And again, I ask, how is it that a guy's hand getting cut off by a bandsaw at work is not considered offensive but a pregnant woman is?

Third, as I noted in my post, the billboard group that handles the bus shelter ads is CBS Corporation -- formerly Viacom, which decided to assume the name of the network it purchased some years ago. Why can't a Canadian company do it? And doesn't this caving in and kowtowing to a tiny vocal minority go against the network's tradition of going against the grain and questioning authority?

Point being, the ads should have stayed up. If we did that every time someone was uncomfortable, we'd still be stuck in the 1950s -- and none of us want to go back to that era, except maybe for the peace of mind.

Suzanne said...


The abortion lobby say some late-term abortions are done for social reasons. As per the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada:

"Most women who terminate their pregnancies after 20 weeks wanted to have a child, and were forced to consider abortion for medical reasons. Other women may be in desperate social circumstances, such as an abusive relationship, or they may be very young teenagers who have delayed abortion care because they were in denial about the pregnancy."

You can't lose your license for doing late-term abortions because it's not against any law or medical guideline.

"Any non-viable pregnancies that are terminated late term require funeral arrangements, by law."

As far as Ontario is concerned, a funeral is not necessary, only that they be disposed of as any other human corpse. Funerals are not obligatory in this country for anyone.

I forgot the link to the Trisomy 13 website:

As you can plainly see, some people with Trisomy 13 do survive.

"These are not abortions, they are induced deliveries of non viable foetuses."

They're killing of unborn children and calling them "inductions" or "stillbirths" is semantic obfuscation.

The purpose of the exercise is to produce a dead baby. Call it "abortion" "induction" or "stillbirth" it's wrong. These inductions are not your typical labour and delivery inductions. They're not that benign. As I said, they include feticide, which is the injection of a poisonous agent in the heart of the fetus, or sometimes the umbilical cord or amniotic fluid. Then, a violent labour process is begun with a prostaglandin that is intended to kill the baby (if the feticide was a failure). It's not your regular induction.

"Don't be an ass and don't tell doctors how to do their jobs or women how to care for themselves or their families."

Doctors do kill viable fetuses. The abortion lobby says so. Women do not have the right to kill their babies by having a doctor stick a needle full of potassium chloride in the heart. And I would thank you not to lump all women in a category-- many of us women do not want to be lumped in with the pro-choice crowd, and I resent people telling me that's what I really want, because it's not. Women should have the right to speak on their behalves and not have some group claim to speak for all of them.

This is why as a previous commentor stated, there is no reason to have a "debate in Canada" because pro life advocates, don't reason, they don't listen to science or fact,

I carefully researched the issue. Viable fetuses are up for abortion in this country, and I don't just have rhetoric, I have proof, and the abortion lobby says I'm right.

A woman who wanted an abortion late term would simply be told to have the baby and put it up for adoption. At some point in time, certainly by 38 weeks, which is not even considered premature, an induced labour is a birth.

The principle behind the "right to choose [abortion]" is that women should have the right to escape motherhood.

There are cases where women haven't found out they were pregnant until they were in delivery.

In principle, the abortion rights movement supports the idea that if a woman in that situation were to tell the doctors to abort it, she'd have that right, and that the medical professionals should obey that wish. It doesn't necessarily happen that way, but it very well could, and the feminists would support that.

I'm sure that Harper would like very much to tell doctors how to do their jobs. I'm also sure the Canadian electorate would vote him out of office shortly there after if he did.

Poll after poll shows that most Canadians favour banning late-term abortions.