There’s a lot of sound and fury, understandably, about Stephen Woodworth’s attempt to reignite the abortion debate.
It’s hard not to be struck, right off the bat, by the disingenuous bullshit surrounding it. Woodworth likes to characterize his initiative as an honest inquiry about when life begins. The Harper machine insists that Woodworth is acting on his own, and that this isn’t official government policy.
Yeah, right. This from an operation so obsessed with message control that backbenchers dare not even fart without clearing it with the the PMO.
And let’s be clear about what this is: it’s not a simple intellectual exercise or an attempt to update the state of scientific knowledge. It’s an assault on reproductive autonomy — a transparent and disingenuous attempt to reassert patriarchal control over women’s bodies and take away the freedom of choice that took decades to achieve.
To suggest that this “debate” isn’t welcome is not, as some misguided voices would argue, the same as advocating censorship. It’s an assertion that some debates are simply not worthy of consideration in public discourse.
It’s inconceivable that in 2012, we would even discuss whether women have the right to control their own bodies. That question was settled by the Supreme Court of Canada more than two decades ago. Do we really have to go through all that again? Are we really prepared to put the basic human rights of our fellow citizens in issue? Seriously?
Framing it as a matter of free inquiry and intellectual exchange allows its proponents to posture as reasonable people and dismiss their opponents as angry, irrational and hysterical. Condescending? Ya think? What next? Are we going to have calm, reasonable, mature debates about whether black people should have the same rights as white people, or whether LGBT people should have the same rights as straight folk?
No. And saying “we’re not going to debate about it” isn’t censorship. Woodworth and his hangers-on — so-cons, misogynists, fundies and assorted intellectual wankers — are welcome to have as many of their little debates as they like. Fill yer boots, boys.
Just not in the Parliament of Canada, let alone any forum that bills itself as “progressive.”