Texas abortion bill is anti-woman, not pro-life

How abortion punishment contradicts pro-life claims

Republican Texas state representative Tony Tinderholt has reintroduced a bill that, if passed, would criminalize women who seek out abortions, as well as open up the possibility for those women to be convicted of homicide. In Texas, this means that women who choose abortion could face the ultimate form of punishment: the death penalty.

The basic value held by those who are anti-abortion, also known as “pro-lifers”or at least the value they claim to upholdis that an unborn fetus has the right to develop fully and be born into the world. What’s strange is that, rather than focusing their efforts on this simple idea, a number of those who are involved with the extremist anti-abortion movement use violence to get their point across and make a statement.

There is a long and unfortunate history of anti-abortion extremist violence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Vandalism, arson, assault, abductions, bombings, and shootings—abortion clinics across these countries have seen the worst. Sadly, this is far from being an issue of the past. In 2015 alone, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire was vandalized; a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire; and three people were killed (along with several others injured) in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

If extreme pro-lifers really are pro-life, then why do they use such violent—and sometimes fatal— methods in their attempts to make themselves heard? If one is truly pro-life, should they not value all lives, rather than only the lives of unborn fetuses? What about all the lives lost in these brutal anti-abortion attacks? Moreover, what about the lives of the women seeking out abortions in those clinics themselves?

When it comes to the concept of punishing a woman by death penalty for her choice to have an abortion, the same line of questioning should be used to critique this bill. If someone is against abortion for the sake of the sanctity of human life, but they are fine with implementing the death penalty as punishment for abortion, can their arguments really be taken seriously?

No part of the term “pro-life” seems to track with the concept of imprisoning a woman for life or sentencing her to death for making reproductive choices for her own body. In fact, a belief in the death penalty could be considered extremely “anti-life”.

The proposal of these cruel, sexist bills under the guise of a “pro-life” mindset is misleading at best and—at worst—utterly inhumane. Tinderholt is using this abortion bill as a mirage to veil the truth of the matter: that the extreme end of the anti-abortion movement was never about protecting human life. It is, and always has been, about stripping women of their reproductive and human rights.

Archive Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Just because it’s a law, doesn’t mean it’s right

Last year, during a series of sexual misconduct allegations from within the Creative Writing department at Concordia, two students filed complaints against a professor, alleging that they were harassed in the 1990s. According to CBC News, this professor is still employed at the university and was exonerated by Concordia of all allegations in September 2018. According to the same source, one of the complainants, Ibi Kaslik, only learned of this through a reporter at CBC at the beginning of this month.

Over the past year, Kaslik tried to remain updated about the complaint and was told by Concordia Associate Vice-President for Human Resources, Carolina Willsher, last month that “the investigator collected the information, presented it to the university, and the university reacted […] That’s all I can tell you,” according to CBC News. The university has been citing privacy concerns as the reason behind their lack of transparency. The Concordian has learned that by not informing the complainants of the results of the investigation, Concordia is following privacy laws, specifically the A-2.1 Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information.

Essentially, in this type of case, no personal information can be shared by an educational institution––even to the person who filed the complaint in the first place. However, the institution is allowed to tell the complainants that the investigation ended. Concordia hasn’t confirmed if they did or did not inform Kaslik and the other complainant of the investigation’s closure. But considering that the complainants only learned of the professor’s exoneration through CBC News, it’s clear to us that the university didn’t inform them of this decision when it happened in September.

While we do acknowledge that Concordia is acting in accordance to privacy laws, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the university’s administration wasn’t as transparent as it could have been, especially in its communication with the complainants. These laws are not survivor-centric, as they restrict those who complain from taking part in the discussions and decisions that will ultimately affect their lives. These complainants should have a right to know what happens to those they complain about––and Concordia shouldn’t sit idly by and claim it’s just following protocol. We believe they should step forward and do something to change this situation. Not only will it show that they’re on the side of the victims, but it will also allow those who want to speak out feel supported.

Just because you’re following a law doesn’t mean you’re doing the right thing. Even though Concordia has enlisted a Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence, created guidelines that discourage sexual relationships between educators and students, and conducted a climate review of the English department, its actions are half-hearted, and the administration’s words hold no value. We need to see concrete change taking place at Concordia. We need to see the university respect and uplift victims’ voices. We need to see this institution protect its students, rather than its abusive educators. Stringing together a few words that excuse Concordia’s actions in PR statements isn’t good enough.

We at The Concordian would also like to note that this is a similar tactic used in 1969, when six black students at Sir George Williams University accused professor Perry Anderson of racism. The university didn’t communicate to the students about how their complaint was being handled, and Concordia exonerated the professor after concluding that nothing could support the racism claims, according to Toronto Star. He later continued his academic career. Rodney John, one of the six students, told Toronto Star that Concordia’s failure to address such bias was at the base of the incident: “It was mishandled from beginning to end.”

Mishandled. A key word here. We at The Concordian hope that the fight against sexual assault, harassment, and injustice at Concordia doesn’t end with the recent exoneration of the professor. Concordia shouldn’t be patting itself on the back. Yes, you followed the law and were not required to divulge the details of what happened to the complainant. But you could have informed them of the end of the investigation, at the very least. As a powerful institution, you aren’t doing enough. We demand more.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

Concordia Student Union News

CSU opposes Bill 62 and intends to take action

AVEQ condemns religious neutrality law, Concordia admins uncertain of impact on campus

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) condemned Bill 62—a provincial religious neutrality law—in a motion passed at a special council meeting on Thursday, Oct. 19. The law—which was approved by Quebec’s National Assembly on Oct. 18—requires people to uncover their face when receiving public services or working in Quebec’s public sector.

The special council meeting was originally called to hire a new CEO, however, the motion to oppose Bill 62 was presented without warning and voted upon by CSU councillors.

“Our official position is we reject [the bill]. We demand the Quebec government change it because it’s unconstitutional,” said Ahmed Badr, the CSU’s external affairs and mobilization coordinator. He said it conflicts with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 2a of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone is entitled to fundamental freedom of conscience and religion.

“Normally [at] special council meetings, we don’t pass [a motion] unless we give them a notice beforehand, but we didn’t,” Badr said. However, he said the CSU council was supportive of the motion.

According to Badr, now is time for the union to take action. “We will have a petition and we will write letters to the [members of Parliament] who voted for it,” Badr said. “We need Concordia students to sign these letters, and we will send it to the [MPs] telling them that we denounce [the] new law.”

The letters will begin circulating for students to sign as early as Tuesday, Oct. 24, however, Badr said the petition release date is to be determined.

Over the weekend, Badr presented a motion at the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) congress for the association to condemn the law.

Following the CSU motion, AVEQ officially opposed the religious neutrality law as well. Sophia Sahrane, the AVEQ coordinator of education and research, said religious neutrality laws infrige on values that AVEQ has endorsed since its establishment. She said the organization takes a feminist, anti-racist and anti-discriminatory position.

Kristen Perry, AVEQ’s coordinator of mobilization and associative development, said the association will be releasing a public statement to announce and clarify their position against Quebec’s new law.

Response from administration

“Bill 62 is such a new law, we don’t even have the final text of the law, and we certainly don’t have any of the government’s requirements yet,” Concordia president Alan Shepard told The Concordian.

The bill applies to provincial public-sector services and provincially funded institutions, such as universities and schools, the CBC reported. According to the same source, Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée advised that amendments be added to include municipalities, metropolitan communities and public transit organizations in the bill.

Shepard said the university has not been provided any guidelines or explanation of how to interpret or implement the law. He said he is not certain if the religious neutrality law affects Concordia.

“I’m in no rush to implement a law in which I have no regulations,” Shepard said. “So for now, it’s completely status quo—as if the law weren’t there.”

“The niqab is the first step. They will [eventually] move onto every other religious symbol,” said Bara Abuhamed, a Concordia industrial engineering student and former Muslim Student Association (MSA) executive. He said Bill 62 is likely the first step of many, and he wants to stop it before it starts.

Abuhamed said the fact that the bill is officially identified as a religious neutrality law is problematic. “It’s clear discrimination and a move against religious freedom,” he said.

“We’ve welcomed women before some other institutions, we’ve welcomed religious minorities—we’ve welcomed everybody,” Shepard said. “And we fully intend to keep welcoming everybody.”

Photo by Mackenzie Lad 

Exit mobile version