Stephen Woodworth’s Little Toe Debate

7 Jan

There’s been a lot of coverage on the (supposedly) potential re-opening of the abortion debate (yet, again) in the living rooms of the nation (not likely) and in the Parliament (highly unlikely). The latest attempt at igniting bickering comes courtesy of Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth. Badly timed, I think. I attended a family reunion over Christmas and this “news,” which came right before the festive season, did not seem like a suitable topic for discussion over turkey and stuffing. If Woodworth aimed to reawaken the consciousness, that was a fail, at least at my family table.

If there is a new debate, there are old tactics. It’s never about religion. Ever. As much as the pro-life movement in Canada has been attempting to distance itself from religious zealotry, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has voiced their support for Woodworth (even if I wasn’t actively feminist, as an atheist this would be a total turn off for me).

Also, it is not about steering the debate toward emotion. Woodworth claims that  “a child is legally considered to be subhuman while his or her little toe remains in the birth canal, even if he or she is breathing.” Professor Shannon Dea of University of Western Ontario has written an excellent opinion piece, detailing Woodworth’s faulty interpretation of the current state of the law. In particular, she writes, “Ultimately, Woodworth’s release is no more than a superficial attempt to take advantage of the slow holiday news season, and not a serious effort to engage in deliberation and dialogue based on genuine data.”

Pro-lifers really need to figure out a new strategy and get the facts before proclaiming that the debate is renewed.

Update: Even National Post‘s Charles Lewis proclaims that the debate is dead (I say it never happened in the first place).

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3 Responses to “Stephen Woodworth’s Little Toe Debate”

  1. Tim Kenyon January 11, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    “Professor Shannon Dea of University of Western Ontario has written an excellent opinion piece…”

    I’m pleased to say that Professor Dea has been my colleague at the University of Waterloo since 2006.

  2. Joel Casselman January 8, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    MP Woodworth does have a point about the problem with Canada’s abortion laws, which state that an unborn child is not a person until it is fully born. This has serious consequences for any woman who wishes to keep her child. There are at least two Canaduan cases that I know of where, during a delivery, a baby died through the negligence of the medical personnel involved. But because of Canada’s abortion laws, there were no criminal charges laid in either case.
    Even some pro-choicers out there must realize that this is an issue. There are probably many of them who believe that an abortion should not be allowed once the pregnancy has reached the third trimester.

    I think that one of the reasons why many Canadians are unaware of this is because of the attitudes of the pro-life movement, which ties their opposition to abortion to opposing birth control, comprehensive sex education, a proper social safety net, immigration, homosexual rights and so forth. if they toned down this rhetoric, perhaps they would be doing a better job of it.


  1. Woodworth Will Get His Day in the Commons « Pro-Woman, Pro-Choice - March 13, 2012

    [...] Harper said during the election campaign last year. Well, that was one big fat lie, as expected. Stephen Woodworth is an MP who has been agitating to re-open the debate on women’s reproductive rights (what [...]

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