Monday, February 25, 2008

One person, one body, one count

Who has fought hardest to prevent violence against women, if not feminists? And it is advocates for women, like the beleaguered Status of Women Canada, who have been working to alert the public to the prevalence of violence against pregnant women.

From the SWC publication, Assessing Violence Against Women: A Statistical Profile:
Women are particularly vulnerable when they are pregnant and when they take steps to leave their violent partners. With regard to pregnancy, the Violence Against Women Survey found that 21% of abused women were assaulted during their pregnancy, and in 40% of these cases, this episode was the beginning of the abuse.
The public also has relatively low awareness levels of prenatal violence with 20% [of a survey taken in New Brunswick] undecided on whether physical abuse of a woman often starts during pregnancy and 44% who disagree that violence often starts at this time.

Without the constant hard work of feminists and organizations like the SWC, domestic violence - including violence against pregnant women - would likely drop off the public radar. Who researches reports, creates policy recommendations, organizes programs for abused women, and builds women's shelters? I'll give you a hint: it isn't the anti-abortion movement.

So for them to claim that opposing the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill (Bill C-484) is somehow demonstrating a lack of care for these women is pretty ridiculous. One could note that being so keen to abolish the SWC displays a callous disregard for all the women, including the pregnant sort, that it works so hard to help.

A woman who has chosen to give birth, who wants and welcomes her baby, has invested the fetus with her hopes and dreams. Indeed she comes to think of the fetus as a baby before it is born. Nobody denies this. It doesn't follow that the fetus should be enshrined in law as an unborn child, and a human being with the same status as the mother. Harm to the fetus that she has come to care for is a tragedy, particularly when it is caused by violence to her own body. If we want to protect pregnant women, then let's enact effective policy and write meaningful laws to protect pregnant women, not disingenuous laws for fetal rights.

Other comments on here, here, here, and here, and especially here - among many others today


Kuri said...

Great post - this covers off another angle that I hadn't fully considered.

Red Jenny said...

Thanks Kuri. Nice job on your posts too.