Saturday, October 12, 2013

When Logic Does Not Factor Into Policy

Yesterday, Canada's Minister for the Status of Women spoke on the recent decision for Canada to restrict funding related to War Rape and Forced Marriage victims to organizations and programs that exclude abortion.

As a pediatric surgeon, she said she's confident Canada has chosen to target its aid where it will do the most good. 
"We have to pick a targeted area, where we're going to be able to have an impact," Leitch said in a phone interview from New York. 
"As a physician, I'm very confident in saying that we have chosen the right one, that pre- and post-partum care is the place where we'll have the most meaningful impact to save the lives of children and their mothers." 
She noted that childbirth is one of the leading causes of death among young women between the ages of 15 and 19 and blamed that largely on the appalling conditions in which they're frequently forced to give birth.
The logic of this is beyond ridiculous.  As a doctor, she should know damn good and well that maternal health includes contraception and abortion.  Excluding these from the discussion does nothing more than reduce women to the role of baby machines.

The issues of the conditions in which women are often forced to give birth are no different than the issue of the conditions which women are forced to deal with when seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy.  Period.  Anybody who thinks that because abortion isn't being funded/supported/provided that women don't seek out such solutions has wool where their brains should be.

What the Harper Government is really doing is using this issue as a piece of red meat for their squirming base of religious fundamentalists.  Make no mistake about it, the religious far right desperately wants to regulate sexuality in this country, and their beach head is abortion.  They think that they can justify slamming the door shut on abortion in Canada, using many of the same revolting tactics that we have seen used in the United States, where progressively more invasive laws have been pushed through at the state level which have rendered access to abortion virtually impossible in some states.

Ms. Leitch should also be quite aware that forced marriage regularly includes forcing girls into marriage before they are physically mature enough to carry a child safely to term, and war rape in general does not respect age at all.  In both cases, access to abortion is a legitimate need for the women affected by these atrocities.  A girl who has had her first period is capable of becoming pregnant, but that doesn't mean that she is able to carry the fetus to term safely, and the injuries from early sex can be fatal.   That she is a paediatrician and takes a position that excludes a particular treatment option for the victims of these practices is disgusting.  She should be fully aware of the dangers involved in such situations for the young woman.

Turning to the question of "War Rape", and pregnancy which could result from such activities, the position she is taking effectively revokes the notion that woman has autonomy over her body in all circumstances.  Once again, we find the ridiculous "pro-life" trope surfacing that denies women autonomy over their bodies.  Pregnancy is not without consequences for the mother, no matter how much we might idealize it as a "wondrous time" in life.  I can only imagine the psychological trauma that someone who is raped in a war zone, and then obliged to carry the resulting child to term would face.  In effect, we are not only rewarding the rapist with offspring, but for the remainder of that woman's life, she has to face a recurring trauma resulting from knowing the origins of that child.  (worse, in some countries, the rapist is actually granted rights with respect to that child, which would spawn still more recurring trauma for the mother)

Logically speaking, there is no way that you can claim to be helping the health of women in these situations and exclude access to abortion.  Doing so is logically inconsistent, and exposes the victims of these crimes (and both are criminal acts in my opinion, regardless of the local laws in other countries).

Once again, the Harper Government is making policy decisions based on ideology, not on facts and reason.  I shudder to think what Harper is going to do on the home front between now and the next election.

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