Monday, April 23, 2007

Elizabeth May Not Anti-Choice but Not Pro-Choice Either

In a letter to the National Post, April 19, 2007, Elizabeth May reacted with fury at having her views on abortion variously characterized as regressive, conservative, and, most incendiarily, “anti-choice.” So strong was May’s indignation that she thought it worse than being associated with a nominated candidate who described the 9/11 attacks as “beautiful”. In her attempt to set the record straight she wrote:
“I am strongly in favour of a woman's right to access a safe and legal abortion. However, I think the polarization of the issue does our society a disservice.”
However, based on her comments during her run at the by-election in London North Centre, she confirms that she is vehemently against abortion, believing that a woman doesn’t have the “frivolous” right to choose. Although, she concedes that “therapeutic abortion” is necessary to avoid women dying during illegal abortions.
Still, her personal views are to me of less concern than the position of the Green Party of Canada, about which Canadians know very little. “The party’s position,” says May, “is that we must maintain access to therapeutic abortions.” The Leader of Green Party speaking on behalf of its policy says:
“what I'd like to do in politics is to be able to create the space to say, "Abortions are legal because they must be to avoid women dying. But nobody in their right mind is for abortions." I've talked women out of having abortions. I would never have an abortion myself, not in a million years. I can't imagine the circumstances that would ever reduce me to it.”
It mustn’t be missed that what she is strongly in favour of is access to therapeutic abortion, not strongly in favour of reproductive freedom. A woman’s choice is not a matter of morality, right, or principle. It is not about the right over her own body (incidentally one of the fundamental rights of liberalism, Greens consider this “frivolous”). The Green Party seems to support abortion not as a matter of reproductive freedom, but out of reluctant necessity. Abortion is a pragmatic, not a principled choice. Abortion must be made legal solely to circumvent the possibility of a woman dying while performing an illegal abortion. Any other reason is “frivolous” or crazy.

Is this grudgingly conciliatory stance simply one Christian person attempting to reconcile her faith with a contentious moral issue, or is this about a Party taking a position that could possibly placate the religious right or the morally conservative down the road? I have yet to be convinced that the Green Party is not composed of right-wing Libertarians who posture as environmentalists either to obfuscate their ideological core and make themselves more palatable or to overcome white middle-class guilt. Granted this last statement is a bit of a cheap shot, but I am really interested in the Green Party revealing its ideological core and its stances on social, political, economic issues. We know so little. A perusal through their blogs reveals a fractious, disorganized picture. Nominated candidates too seem to be all over the place.


Cerberus said...

Pro-choice means someone is pro-choice, in favour of women having the option to terminate their own pregnancy.

"I am strongly in favour of a woman's right to access a safe and legal abortion."

That seems pretty clearly a pro-choice statement to me.

In all my years, I've never read anywhere that to be "pro-choice" one had to be more than "pro-choice", but one had to have the proper reasons for being "pro-choice".

derrida said...

Cerberus: Pro-choice doesn't exist in a semantically empty field. It’s not like wanting consumer choice in shopping. Pro-choice is an ethical, social, and political position. Note that May never herself says she is "pro-choice." For good reason, she's not. But it also wouldn't be fair to call her "anti-choice" since she is partially in agreement with one part of being "pro-choice: access to legal and safe abortion.

I say partially since from the point of view of reproductive rights, the access to safe and legal abortion stems from a right to control one’s reproductive functions (including the right not to reproduce). For May access to abortion stems from the possibility of a woman dying accessing an illegal abortion.

Not only out of haste, but because it summarizes the issue well. I'll quote wikipedia:

Pro-choice describes the political and ethical view that a woman should have total control over her fertility and pregnancy. This entails the guarantee of reproductive rights, which includes access to sexual education; access to safe and legal abortion, contraception, and fertility treatments; and legal protection from forced abortion.

Reproductive rights or procreative liberty is what supporters view as human rights in areas of sexual reproduction. Advocates of reproductive rights support the right to control one's reproductive functions, such as the rights to reproduce (such as opposition to forced sterilization), as well as rights to not reproduce (such as support for access to birth control and abortion), the rights to privacy, medical coverage, contraception, family planning and protection from discrimination and harassment.

p.s. beginning to doubt how classically liberal you are and I know it’s partisan but I do see not supporting “organizing” in the workplace as socially regressive. I’m not a big fan setting up union free zones to attract multinationals to wantonly exploit the workplace.

janfromthebruce said...

new poll out and all is not well in greliberal fantasy spin land.
Angus Reid Poll: Dion-May pact rejected by Canadians
Only 29% of Canadians approve of the recent agreement between the Liberal and Green parties
04.24.07 Tuesday

[TORONTO - Apr. 24, 2007] – Most Canadians have a negative opinion of a recent agreement reached by Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion and the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, a new Angus Reid Strategies poll has found. In the online survey of a representative national sample, 45 per cent of Canadians disapprove of the leaders’ decision of not running candidates in each other’s ridings in the next federal election, while just 29 per cent approve.

At least four in every ten respondents in each region is against the Dion/May agreement. In Atlantic Canada, the number of people who reject the deal reaches 50 per cent. People in Alberta are the most inclined to reject it (52%), while those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the most prone to support it (34%).

Among Liberal voters, 37 per cent disapprove of the pact to support May, while 52 per cent think otherwise.

The controversial deal will not encourage many people to vote for the Liberals in the next election. Two thirds (65%) of respondents say the agreement does not make them more likely to support the Liberals in the future. However, in Atlantic Canada about one-in-five (22%) do say the pact makes them more inclined to vote for the Liberals.

The agreement has not helped the Greens either, with 72 per cent of respondents saying it does not make them more likely to support the ecological party—which currently has no representation in the House of Commons—in the next federal election.

The Dion/May pact is perceived by many Canadians (44%) as a sign of weakness on the part of the Liberals and their leader. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents who voted for the Liberals in the last federal election agree with this perception. Respondents in Atlantic Canada feel particularly strongly about it, with 56 per cent of them saying the deal projects weakness.

Asked who they would vote for in the next federal election if they resided in Nova Scotia’s Central Nova riding—where May is to run without Liberal opposition—35 per cent of respondents across Canada say they would support Conservative candidate Peter MacKay. May is second with 22 per cent, followed by NDP candidate Louise Loriface with 16 per cent. Support for MacKay is highest in Alberta (69%), May is popular in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (27%), and Loriface leads in Atlantic Canada, with 30 per cent. Liberal voters would be more likely to support the NDP candidate (53%) in this riding than the Green leader (41%).

Finally, on the wake of the Dion/May agreement, Canadians dislike the idea of a possible merger between the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens. More than half (52%) of respondents think these political parties should not unite.

Stephen LaFrenie said...

I would like to state unequivocally that the Green Party is Pro-Choice. Ms. May has stated her personal position which we can argue about. However there is not a single sign of proof anywhere that the Green Party is anti-choice. There is no intent in the Green Party to reverse abortion access. There is no Green Party stance to obstruct access to abortion and in fact access needs to be expanded. You can argue that there is a difference in the meaning of what it means to be pro-choice but to imply that all political parties and movements think exactly alike is wrong. There is not unified belief in why or how someone comes to support pro-choice. It is simply recognized that the NDP and Liberals support pro-choice officially. The same should apply to the Greens. I can't stop you from trying to impose the personal beliefs of Ms. May on the Party membership and make us appear to be one in the same but you're wrong.

janfromthebruce said...

Ms. May made headlines today in the London Free press - May preaches green gospel

Nows she mixing her fundamental christian beliefs with "Green Prophecy."