Women's Bodies and the Law

Posted February 1, 2017 from North Korea

My country has a fraught and tedious relationship with women's reproductive rights. Significant barriers exist for many women to access abortion, especially in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, two small provinces in the so called "maritimes" of Canada.

The United States legalized abortion in1973 but in Canada it was not decriminalized until 1988. It took mass popular activism for women's choice and a courageous doctor named Henry Morgentaler, who survived the holocaust and risked his freedom and career by challenging the Canadian government unjust criminalization of abortion.

Most people don't know that we have a mix of private and public healthcare. Vision, physiotherapy, dental and pharmaceuticals are not considered essential under Canadian health law. Many women have trouble paying for medications including birth control. There are restrictive pre-existing condition clauses that deny people for the most ableist, discriminatory and arbitrary reasons you could think of.

The threat of the so called pro-life lobbying, supported by the wealthy and influential Catholic church. The pro-life movement is a regressive movement promoting the old order of Christian patriarchy. It has been thoroughly debunked as being theistic, right wing and deeply sexist.

As a progressive it deeply saddens me to see the legal rights of female being replaced with transgender legislation. It is pretty rare that a rights movement actually disempowers another group but that is what transgender protection laws do to women. Biological sex ceases to be legally relevant because it is deemed transphobic. Many feminist academics such as Cathy Brennan, Catharine MacKinnon and Sheila Jeffreys have explained the consequences for women and girls.

There are serious implications of gender laws on reproductive rights since this is something based on immutable biological sex. Many male trans activists censor women and say using scientifically accurate language to describe their female anatomy. Trans activists say we should stop saying “pregnant women” and say pregnant people instead because of a very small amount of females who take synthetic testosterone and “identify” as male.

It is worrying as someone who wants to prevent domestic violence that legally allowing the sex on a birth certificate to be changed skews statistics on domestic violence. We need to know the sex of the perpetrators, who are overwhelmingly male, trans or not.

The false feminist movement to fully decriminalize the sex trade is another attack on women's reproductive rights because it is based on the idea that men buying sexual access to women's bodies should be legal and normalized. Meanwhile the women of the Global South, overwhelming oppose the sexist sex trade. They see a booming industry of privileged Western men exploiting the women and girls there who deserve so much more.

Luckily Canada has good laws since they were changed in 2014. They are inspired by the Nordic approach of criminalizing buyers but not those vulnerable people who are forced to sell their bodies to sexist and violent men. Sadly, the Liberals who are in power have mentioned they want to change these laws to appease liberal “sex worker” activists. Even though Justin Trudeau once said that prostitution is violence against women.

Canada has a lot of work to do to not impede the reproductive rights of women.

Comments 2

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Jill Langhus
May 10, 2017
May 10, 2017

Hi there. Welcome to World Pulse:) Thanks for bringing to our attention the lack of progressive reproductive rights in your country. What do you think the best strategy would be to counteract these harmful practices? Are there any organizations there doing anything to educate people on what's going on and try to turn the laws around?

allie shep
Feb 04, 2017
Feb 04, 2017

It is such a pity that the "rights" of 1 group can override the rights of another, and it is so often women who lose out. I'm afraid that the Catholic church has a lot to answer for.