Huffpost Canada ca
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Stephen Woodworth Headshot

Woodworth #2

Posted: Updated:

Thank you for this opportunity to reply to Ms. Arthur's comments.

1) Ms. Arthur suggests that using the word "child" is begging the question since she assumes that a "child" is a "human being."

I recommend reading the statute mentioned in my Motion. It really does say "a child becomes a human being when...". If I did not use the language of the law I would be accused of misrepresenting it. However, the statute is not "begging the question" in using that language, and neither am I.

I conclude that science will show a child is a human being at some point before the moment of complete birth. However, far from "begging the question" on that, I propose to expose that proposition to the evidence and principles which apply to it.

Ms. Arthur's commentary not only begs the question (by assuming that a child is not a human being until complete birth) but is adamantly opposed to exposing that belief to the cold light of scientific evidence and sound principle.

2) Ms. Arthur's comments include unfounded speculation instead of comment on the agreed upon question. Here are just two examples:

a. The claim that the proposed Committee will apply "a forgone conclusion" is incorrect. In fact my Motion instructs the Committee to merely report options. This will encourage fair reporting of all possibilities flowing from the evidence.

b. Ms. Arthur's comments assume that all Conservatives favour recognizing the human rights of children before birth. Sadly, this is not true.

3) Ms. Arthur addresses a supposed logical fallacy. Here are two included in her comments:

a. The Ad Hominem Attack. By attempting to distract the reader with comment about the author of the motion, and his phantom motives, one avoids dealing with the merits of the agreed-upon question.

b. The Straw Man. By conjuring up a host of concepts which are not found in the question being debated, one can avoid dealing with the merits of the agreed-upon question. The agreed-upon question simply proposes a study of the scientific evidence about when a child becomes a human being. If you remove from Ms. Arthur's response all personal imputations and comment on other issues, there is very little left.

4) The courts have not said that Canadians may never recognize that children are human beings before the moment of complete birth. The courts have simply recognized that our existing law does not do so. Many jurists, including Justice Bertha Wilson in her decision rejecting Canada's last abortion law, have invited Parliament to revisit our view of children before birth.

5) One idea about which Ms. Arthur and I clearly disagree is her notion that if a person or group has enough power, they can sweep aside any human being's inalienable rights by having them declared a "non-person." I will concede that the powerful are capable of this, but not that it is ever legitimate.

6) Ms. Arthur really advances only one main basis to oppose a study of the evidence about whether a child is a human being before the moment of complete birth. That idea is that if evidence discloses that a child actually is a human being before the moment of complete birth, it would make all abortion impossible.

First of all, even if children are recognized as human beings before the moment of complete birth, one could still honestly assert that the child's life should be taken in the service of a higher purpose. An honest assertion like that would be preferable to any law which dishonestly misrepresents the facts.

More importantly, we should never accept that it is legitimate to ignore cogent evidence, or refuse to acknowledge any human being's fundamental rights, simply to satisfy some policy or ideology, on abortion or anything else.

Those who believe in the truth will follow the facts courageously wherever they lead. One should always be reluctant to follow those who are afraid to confront the evidence. A definition of human being that is over 400 years old deserves a second look with modern information.