Still don’t believe me when I say elite opinion in Canada is pro-choice? Here, we read about a federal bureaucracy that can’t tell the difference between abortion and miscarriage. Come one, come all–maternity benefits for everyone! This has to be a bad day in the employment insurance office… who allowed this policy to stand?
Rebecca adds: I suspect that maternity benefits for women who have late term abortions come from a decision to extend benefits to women who have a stillbirth, which is in itself a fine decision. (Anyone dealing with the physical and mental anguish of losing a baby late in pregnancy should have some help from EI, whether or not it’s provided as maternity leave.) This reflects something that has long puzzled me about modern feminism: the denial of women’s capacity to make educated, responsible choices about their own lives, in other words to be fully enfranchised adults.
The difference of course between losing a baby in the third trimester to stillbirth and aborting a third trimester pregnancy is that one represents a choice made by the mother. Shaping EI policy to ignore this choice is very bizarre. This reminds me of the cries of protest that arise whenever it is suggested that assault that causes a pregnant woman to miscarry be treated as two crimes, the assault against the mother and the homicide of the baby. If such a law is passed, we are told, then women who get abortions will be charged with murder!
Well, no. It is easy to differentiate between the termination of a pregnancy by a medical procedure to which the mother consents (often arguing that without an abortion she will suffer great mental anguish) and the termination of a pregnancy by a criminal assault on a woman, that itself causes her anguish. Why the reluctance to look at the choices made by women, what motivates these choices, and what the consequences are? Isn’t it really infantilizing to strip women of their agency in this way, to pretend that an abortion is for all intents and purposes the same as a stillbirth, that an assault that causes a woman to lose a baby is essentially the same as any other miscarriage?
As for me, I think it’s tragic whenever a pregnancy doesn’t ultimately result in a healthy baby. But not all tragedies are the same. It’s always dreadful when a building burns down, but a chance electrical fire is not the same thing as arson, and it would be madness to make policy as if there were no difference between the two.