Legitimate what?

Over the past couple of days, the regina mom has read a number of pieces, some humourous, in response to a statement by US Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri,  regarding the medieval concept of legitimate rape.

How long has this no-pregnancy-in-rape theory been around?
“The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant has long roots,” says Vanessa Heggie at Britain’s The Guardian. Think 13th century. One of the earliest British legal texts — Fleta, from about 1290 — has this familiar-sounding clause: “If, however, the woman should have conceived at the time alleged in the appeal, it abates, for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.” Samuel Farr’s Elements of Medical Jurisprudence, a treatise from 1785 (second edition 1814), elaborates: “For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant.”

What’s the medical underpinning of this theory?
From medieval times until the 19th century, doctors and laypeople alike widely believed that women only conceived if they had an orgasm, since the presumed female “seed” — needed to complement the male sperm to achieve pregnancy — was thought be secreted only during sexual climax. “By logical extension, then,” says Heggie, “if a woman became pregnant, she must have experienced orgasm, and therefore could not have been the victim of an ‘absolute rape’.”

Interestingly, and in stark contrast to what the right wing nut jobs (RWNJ) in the US have been saying, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon recently shared their findings into a hormone that’s present in semen. They now believe it “nudges a woman’s body to ovulate.”

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Saskatoon-based researchers and their colleagues in Chile went sleuthing in llamas and cows for the identity of a seminal fluid protein they’d previously found sends a signal to a female’s brain. That signal prompts the female brain to release hormones that stimulate ovulation.

Veterinary biomedical sciences Prof. Gregg Adams, who is with the university’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says he expected to find a brand new protein in the seminal fluid. Much to their surprise, they found this poorly-understood protein (called ovulation-inducing factor or OIF) is the same molecule as an old friend in the nervous system that’s critical for normal neuron function.

the regina mom cannot wait to see how the RWNJs respond to this piece of legitimate science!

#M312’s birth into Parliament and a personal response

the regina mom knows that Mr. Harper clearly stated, numerous times, that a Conservative government would not re-open the abortion debate. Yet, on Thursday, April 26, she watched Members of Parliament debate Motion 312, which ultimately seeks personhood rights for fetuses which would enable the re-criminalization of abortion, as well as deny the constitutional rights of all pregnant women.  In other words, it is yet another backdoor attack on women’s Charter rights.

And, the regina mom knows that the Prime Minister is not a stupid man, well, not unless power has gone to his head, that is. He must have known that Motion 312 was an attack on women’s rights. And, contrary to what some in the mainstream media and elsewhere have said, there are at least a couple of ways the Harper government could have stopped the abortion debate from being re-opened.

The blogger, Dr. Dawg, has clearly described how the Prime Minister and the all-party Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs could have stopped Motion 312 from making it to the floor of the House of Commons.  Basically, there was not political will within either the Conservative Party to either further investigate it or stop it.  And so it proceeded.

A harsher way of stopping it could have been for the Prime Minister to expel MP Stephen Woodworth from the CPC caucus when he first got wind of Motion 312. Doing so would have sent a very strong message to Canadians, a message which would have indicated that he really meant what he said when he said, “No debate.” But the Prime Minister did not do that.  He lacked the conviction to demonstrate that strength.

Granted, when under pressure in the House of Commons he did say that he would oppose Motion 312. That, to the regina mom, was a small relief.  She was a tad more relieved when the government whip, MP Gordon O’Connor, Minister of State, spoke very eloquently against Motion 312.

Perhaps the greatest relief to the regina mom came when she was reduced to tears.  Perhaps it was not relief, but sadness, anger, appreciation, respect or perhaps a mixture of all.  But when  Niki Ashton, the NDP Critic for Women, delivered her speech in opposition to the motion the regina mom‘s tears started to roll. Perhaps upstaged by O’Connor on some points, Ms Ashton spoke to the heart of the issue for the regina mom.

The reality is that the issue of abortion was settled in 1988. In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law, ruling that it was unconstitutional. The justices found that the law violated Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because it infringed on a woman’s right to life, liberty and security of person. That was 1988, almost 25 years ago, a generation ago.

This decision came about after years of work from women who, from across the country, sent the message that women ought to have the right to choose, that women ought to have the right to decide their future, that women ought to have the ability to define their destiny.

That fight also took place in the House of Commons. Our leader in 1987, Audrey McLaughlin, spoke out clearly, saying:

—limiting the right to the “personal care and control of one’s body” is a violation of a most “basic and fundamental right”, that of “reproductive choice.

As Ms. McLaughlin and others have pointed out, abortions, if they are not performed legally in medical facilities under the direction of a physician, will happen in much less favourable circumstances. As ugly as it may seem, women must not be forced to return to those ugly circumstances of using coat hangers, vacuum cleaners or putting themselves in the hands of quacks. “It is an ugly reality”, Ms. McLaughlin said, “but it is a reality.”

There were caravans, protests, lobby meetings, speeches and debates, and the issue was settled in 1988. When Canadians have been asked, time and time again a majority have supported a woman’s right to choose. Here we are in 2012, seeing the government reopen the debate on abortion. It has not been truthful about it either. Time and time again the Prime Minister and members of his party have said that they will not reopen the abortion debate. The Prime Minister declared:

As long as I am prime minister we are not opening the abortion debate…The government will not bring forward any such legislation and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated as long as I am prime minister.

That comes from an article in the Globe and Mail, from Wednesday, December 21, 2011.

An article written around that same time quoted the Prime Minister as saying, “As long as I’m prime minister we are not reopening the abortion debate”.

This is the Conservative Party’s Trojan horse agenda. During an election, and even here in the House of Commons, the Conservatives tell Canadians one thing. Then, as a minority government and now as a majority government, we see what they truly mean.

If the Prime Minister did not want a woman’s right to choose to be debated, we would not be here tonight. What is interesting is the Conservatives felt the need to tell Canadians something else so those same Canadians would vote for them. They waited until they won a majority to then uncover their hidden agenda.

Indeed, the hidden agenda is hidden no more.  the regina mom saw it right here on her computer screen.  She watched Members of Parliament debate a motion about abortion, a motion that was introduced by a Conservative Member of Parliament.  Perhaps it could be called the No Debate Debate.

It’s a war on women

the regina mom collects links and writes blogposts.  She had it in mind to do a series around abortion because Motion 312 will be debated in the House of Commons on Thursday.  Not surprisingly, the links she’s collected do in fact have to do with abortion.  What has become exceedingly clear is that there is not only an attack on women’s reproductive rights in North American, but one that is global.

 

Many of you will already know about many of the ridiculous pieces of legislation passed or being considered in the USA.  17atHeart has compiled a list of links to pieces of anti-woman legislation in the US states.  Read it if you’d like to know a little more about how bizarre it is.  Life begins at conception?  Hullo?  the regina mom posts it here because it provides a window to what Canadian women could face should the anti-choice faction in the House of Commons have their way with us.

 

Women in the Ukraine are also seeing their right to reproductive choice attacked.  In response to the apparent collusion between the church and the state in preparing a draft law that would restrict abortions, some brave feminists of the group Femen climbed the bell tower of St. Sophia’s cathedral in Kiev. They barricaded themselves in, bared their breasts, dropped a black banner saying, STOP, and rang the bells to assure attention to their action.

 

Femen’s slogan is “We came, we undressed, we conquered.” The group specialises in topless activism, supporting women’s rights and fighting prostitution and trafficking and it travels widely, recently appearing in Davos, Milan and Minsk.

 

There’s an interesting map of the world which gives a glance at the world’s abortion laws. and the restrictions, if any, in each country.  Interestingly, however, even though abortion is legal in South Africa, unsafe abortions are on the rise there.  Dr. Mhlanga, an abortion rights advocate there, claims that’s because

 

the society remains patriarchal and religiously conservative. Many health workers will not provide abortion care because it conflicts with their religious views, and those who are willing to provide care often are stigmatized and marginalized by their co-workers and managers.

 

The story goes on to give some hope that religious zealots can indeed change. Mhlanga is one of the most ardent abortion rights activists in the country, but he used to be opposed to abortion.

 

Mhlanga himself was once a self-described “ardent born-again Christian with conservative views about sex and women.” In the early 1980s, however, he witnessed the death of a colleague who suffered complications from an incomplete abortion. He attended her funeral and there saw the four-year-old son she had left behind. That moment was his turning point. He felt that no child should ever be left motherless as the result of an unsafe abortion, and he began doing research and getting active on the abortion issue. At the time, South African law required women seeking abortions to get signatures from three doctors—none of whom could work in the same facility. That effectively kept many women from getting legal abortions, especially poor women in rural areas where there were few, if any, doctors.

 

Perhaps the ProLife (sic) caucus in the House of Commons would be interested in speaking with Mr. Mhlanga before insisting that we regress to a time where women died from unsafe abortions.

 

I know.  It’s wishful thinking, especially since the Harper Conservative government has slashed yet more funding to women’s health initiatives. The Women’s Health Contribution Program provided financial support for information and services across the country.

 

And then there’s the previously mentioned Motion 312.  Go read what the Canadian Labour Congress has to say about it.  Then, print out a copy of the petition opposing the motion, pack it in your purse or pocket and pull it out whenever you meet up with other people.  Invite them to sign it.  Once you have 25 signatures, send it to the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.  The folks there will forward it to a prochoice Member of Parliament who will, in turn, present it to the House of Commons.

 

 

Who’s Who in the Religious Right?

A friend has done up a couple of excellent lists based on her reading of The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald.

The first is a names index filled with names familiar to those who have read McDonald’s book or who have been watching the rise of fundamentalist xianity in Canada:  McVety, Landoldt, Manning, Harper are but a few of those listed.

The second list is the organization index with info about such organizations as the Canada Family Action Coalition, the Centre for Faith and Public Life and the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada.  (Sorry, no links from me to them!)

These should prove to be useful lists for my research needs.

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