American state restrictions on abortion are anti-secular
America is a nation that prides itself on separating church and state—that is, unless the issue is abortion. Recently, a rash of state restrictions on abortion procedures exposed two fundamental truths about the Christian right: first, its adherents dismiss secular ideals, especially the commitment to evidence-based inquiry; second, they seek to make religion operative within secular law.
When lobbying for abortion restrictions, the pro-life movement all but ignores empirical studies that challenge its harm narrative, namely, that terminating a pregnancy causes women to experience psychological and emotional trauma. The research, however, discredits this post-truth assumption. For instance, in a 2015 American study, more than 95% of women did not regret their abortions. “Women overwhelmingly felt abortion was the right decision in both the short-term and over three years, and the intensity of emotions and frequency of thinking about the abortion declined over time,” the study concluded.
Moreover, influential religious lobby groups, such as Focus on the Family, disseminate propaganda concerning the long-term physical risks of abortions. Yet it is highly unlikely that women will experience severe medical difficulties following a pregnancy termination. A 2018 landmark report called “The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States” found that complications from all abortions were “rare.”
As well, most Americans support the pro-choice position. According to a 2019 CBS News poll, two-thirds of Americans want Roe v. Wade left in place, and if the law were overturned, almost twice as many Americans (48%) would be dissatisfied/angry as opposed to happy/satisfied (26%).
In a 2018 Gallup poll, when asked “with respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?” more Americans sided with the former (49% versus 45% respectively). And according to a 2018 Pew Research Survey, 58% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, whereas only 37% believe that it should be illegal.
If more Americans identify as pro-choice, want open access to abortion, and experience few physical or psychological drawbacks, what then is driving the recent shift towards abolition?
Some politicians defending the pro-life perspective have made no attempt to hide their religious biases. By legislating morality now, they hope to topple Roe v. Wade later, with the help of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
Take, for instance, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. She believes that the sanctity of life ethos, as described in the Book of Genesis, should be the guiding principle shaping the state’s new fetal “heartbeat” law. “This legislation [HB 314] stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” affirmed Ivey.
There are no exceptions to this new anti-abortion legislation—not even for rape or incest—even though 77% of Americans, including 57% of those who identify as “pro-life,” support abortion in cases of rape or incest.
Likewise, Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), the State Representative who introduced the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, admits that Christian norms are foundational to his legislative aims. “God creates children in his own image, regardless of how that child is brought into the world, it’s created in his image, and how can someone want to destroy that?”
In Georgia, HB 481, dubbed the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,” would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically at six weeks’ gestation. After signing the bill, Republican Governor Brian Kemp confirmed that the law was a declaration–“the declaration that that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection.”
The Act’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), maintained the traditional Christian notion that life begins at conception. “That fact that, morphologically, certain organs have not grown or their arms aren’t as visible, doesn’t change the fact that they are living, distinct as human being.”
Other conservative lawmakers who supported the LIFE Act outlined their position in vivid religious terms. “There are many scriptures that make it clear to me that God knew us and had a plan for us when we were still in our mother’s womb. The word abortion is not going to be found in the Bible,” admitted Republican Sen. Greg Kirk.
The religious right promises that those who reject the sanctity of human life will experience divine retribution here on earth. In Missouri, doctors who perform abortions after the cutoff of eight weeks face 15 years in prison. In Alabama, the punishment for doctors who perform abortions is 99 years in prison.
Not only did Texas politicians forbid exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities, but women who carry out an abortion could be prosecuted for murder—and potentially receive the death penalty. Texas pro-life legislators appear oblivious to the irony of such punitive measures.
Americans face an important litmus test. Do they want laws grounded in secular values—specifically, those based on evidence-based reasoning, compassion for women, and equality rights—or do they want laws shaped by religious dogma, faith positions, and blind obedience?
To maintain public support, pro-choice advocates of all stripes must continue to emphasize the importance of secular ideals. That’s because pro-life forces, mainly from the religious right, have already decided that belief trumps truth.
Stuart Chambers, Ph.D., teaches in the school of sociological and anthropological studies at the University of Ottawa.
Contact: [email protected]
Andrew Scheer used money from the Conservative Party to pay costs of private schooling for his children, according to sources in contact with Global News. Some are suggesting this story might have ultimately let to Scheer’s resignation.
Scheer has since stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, but he will not fully resign until the party has a replacement to fill the position.
According to some senior Conservative members, Scheer’s use of the Conservative Party of Canada funds was improper.
While in the House of Commons, Scheer said, “I just informed my colleagues in the Conservative caucus that I will be resigning as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and I will be asking the Conservative Party national council to immediately begin the process of organizing a leadership contest.”
“In order to chart the course ahead in the direction this party is heading, the party needs someone who can give 100 percent.”
Dustin van Vugt, the Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada wrote a statement saying, “All proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”
Van Vugt talked about the party covering some of Scheer’s costs in the statement saying, “As is the normal practice for political parties, the Party offered to reimburse some of the costs associated with being a national leader and re-locating the family to Ottawa.”
Prime Minister Trudeau also commented on the situation tweeting, “Andrew, I wish you all the best in your next steps — in the house and beyond. On behalf of Canadians, Thanks for your service and commitment to building a better future.”
According to the Elections Canada Act, there are not specific rules in place for these circumstances.
Some are confused about the situation seeing that Scheer’s average salary has been approximately $170,000 to $180,000 for the past 15 years.
Michael Spratt, an Ottawa lawyer said, “It may be off-brand for the Conservatives, but I don’t think any reasonable person would say that it’s a criminal offence to spend a salary top-up on personal items.”
Doug Ford also commented on Scheer’s resignation saying, “I wish Andrew Scheer all the best as he undertakes this new chapter in his life, and thank him for his service as the head of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and leader of the Conservative Party.”
Jamie Ellerton–longtime Conservative political strategist and public relations strategist at Conaptus Ltd.–said, “I know that he in more recent weeks had finally started reaching out to caucus candidates, close friends, longtime [party members] and I think he finally realized how tenuous his grasp on the leadership was, and it’s my understanding the family indeed came to the decision to do it this way.”
“But the idea that grassroots Conservative Party donations–$25 and $50 [donations]–is paying for his kids … to go to private school is just beyond the pale.”
Jack Moon, 33, died in a car accident just days after he had lost his house to a fire. The car accident was part of a multi-vehicle pileup on Highway 401 near Brockville.
He was the sole person to lose their life in Wednesday’s crash that came during a blizzard. He was identified by a family member and the OPP.
OPP told the Kingstonist that the collision happened near Brockville and was one of a total of 22 passenger vehicles damaged.
There have been a series of accidents along the highway between the Napanee and Brockville area. A separate thirty car pile-up happened near Napanee earlier this week. Fortunately, there were no fatalities.
Moon leaves behind his three children as well as another child yet to be born with his partner Krystiannah Summers.
Global News had interviewed Moon after his home was destroyed by the fire that killed two pets and left him and his family homeless on Dec. 2.
Krystiannah’s sister, Aisha Summers started a GoFundMe page with hopes to raise money for the Moon family. The Kingston community was quick to rally behind the family with donations. The page also confirmed Moon’s death
Moon’s Facebook page revealed that he travelled to Ottawa on Wednesday to get a passport. It is presumed he was returning to Kingston when the accident occurred.
The OPP is advising everyone to drive with caution over the holidays.
I’m the daughter of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. I’ve also made a name for myself by promoting an all-meat diet (The Lion Diet) for the last two years. This diet, I believe, healed my medically-uncontrollable autoimmune disease. Hence, I know a thing or two about trolls. Trolls are a bipartisan problem, and we need to know how to deal with them.
It started with my dad when he went viral in 2016 due to his stance on preferred pronouns (Bill C16 in Canada). His principled stance led international notoriety and fame. It was the left that first came after him. The onslaught was an attempt to put him in a box—who was Jordan Peterson? We’ve had the terms alt-right, male-chauvinist, free speech warrior, an anti-trans rights conservative thrown around a lot. Some even compared him to Hitler. None of that was remotely accurate—he just thinks people’s lives would be improved if they told the truth. Most manifestations were online, but some were quite real—we’ve had posters put up around our neighbourhood with a “warning” sign and his face on them.
I wouldn’t call the people who did this trolls. While they were certainly out to harm his reputation, their key driver was fear. They were also devoid of a sense of humour.
Trolls use humour, or most of them do. There are funny ones who tease, ones that make memes, satirical trolls (see Titania McGrath), those who push boundaries, but there are also trolls who see someone struggling and take that opportunity to add in a bit more suffering. There are trolls who are really just damaged individuals, and instead of taking that hurt and thinking, “I’ve experienced pain and the world would be a better place if there was less of that,” they think, “I’ve experienced pain and that wasn’t fair, so everyone else should suffer as I did.”
The left is interesting insofar as they claim to discourage bullying, but there are many vicious bullies among them. My father was attacked without an ounce of humour, initially. After the left had their fill, there was backlash from the right when they realized he didn’t really fit into their box, either. Some just poked fun at my dad—particularly with memes which we quite enjoyed. But there were also those who psychopathically hid behind their keyboards and looked for any sign of weakness to exploit, just because they were bored.
The internet has had a field day with my story, and how could it not? “Single Mother—Daughter of the Custodian of the Patriarchy—Touts An All Meat Diet To Cure Disease.” There couldn’t be an easier target. I had a vegan YouTuber send his 300k+ vegans after me at the same time as a former U.S. comedian with a large (legitimately) alt-right audience, sent his. The barrage of malice and ridicule was overwhelming. I reached a point where I couldn’t laugh it off anymore.
Then someone published a book about my diet claiming to be Jordan and I. It was listed in the Toxicology section of Amazon. Definitely a troll, somewhat annoying, but at least it was a little funny, and brought my sense of humour back. I bought one of the books just to have around. That all happened in a two week period, at the same time as my Dad entered rehab (at least partly due to the stress of being attacked from all angles for the last three years). This is what a well-permeated troll culture can achieve.
So how did we get here? Well, a couple of things have led to this troll culture we live in. The first was the uniting power of the internet. Most people are fairly agreeable, or society wouldn’t function. Disagreeable people (mostly men), being a statistical minority, have a hard time getting along with others, and trolling in real life can have very immediate consequences. However, if you say something provocative online, it’s from behind a screen so there really isn’t much danger. You venture out to different corners of the internet, trolling, until you find your little group with relatively few repercussions. It’s these communities of disagreeable, rather malicious individuals that can self-organize towards attacking a particular person or idea.
The far left has—and still is—trying to shut down our ability to tease each other, and joke in real life. One of the reasons teasing is fun is because it is provocative—a safe means for pushing boundaries. However, the logic of the far left resembles something like “if something is provocative, then it is mean, and if it is mean, it needs to be stopped.”
There’s no nuance. Comedians are getting censored, for God’s sake. Comedians. They’re professional jokers and they’re getting censored. What type of message does that send? That you don’t know have a right to judge what is offensive or non-offensive anymore? For example, I was part of a Facebook group where someone demanded a trigger warning before talking about renovations, just in case someone couldn’t afford to do the same renovations. And they were dead serious. How could a disagreeable person, especially one with a support group not attack that? Hell, I couldn’t even help it, and I was a pregnant woman at the time.
I believe that by striving for tolerance and conformity, the left both bred new trolls and made them much more influential by removing real-world competition. When trolling first started it would have been a few disagreeable individuals, but now anyone with a sense of humour can be considered a troll. Since society can’t handle comedians anymore, we now have trolls to poke fun at us and see how far we can be pushed. Some are funny. Some push too far, but, is it because they are, perhaps, getting pushed themselves? At least partly.
This is what happens when people aren’t allowed to tease each other, and discussions are literally banned. Combine that with digital impunity and a loyal fan club for the most vicious trolls… What do we expect? We can’t really fight back. And you know what? That’s okay. Just like a comedian is defined by the response of his or her audience, so is the influence of a troll defined by the attention they can stir up.
So I’ll end with a few suggestions coming from years of experience dealing with trolls.
- Do not engage. They will say anything to get a response. Ignore them. There’s no winning against someone trying to make the world a worse place.
- Laugh it off. Try and see the humour in it. Instead of taking offence. Our culture is more and more devoid of poking fun at stressful situations and we should be trying to increase that wherever we can. How else do you deal with the brutality of life? Humour is key. Even if that’s making fun of my family and my ridiculous diet.
- Support free speech in real life. If we want to limit trolling on the internet, we should make trolling more acceptable in the real world. The more free speech is shut down, the more comedians are censored, and the more disagreeable people are silenced, the stronger this troll culture will get.
Try not to take yourself too seriously. And have a steak.
Public opinion is growing skeptical on promoting more and new economic ties with China, Canada’s second largest trading partner after the US, according to an Angus Reid poll.
The survey polled 1,499 Canadians and found that Canadians’ positive views of trade with China are starting to wane. The now yearlong imprisonment of two Canadians by Beijing was a recent development in the changing attitude towards the super power.
Many Canadians responded with concerns for human rights in China, and seven-in-ten felt the rule of law should take greater precedence in our relationship. That number is up from the last time Angus Reid polled Canadians on the issue back in February 2019, when 62 percent of people said the same.
In 2015, the poll found that 62 percent said that we should increase trade ties with China in the future, that number dropped by 40 percent this year, now only 22 percent of people feel that way.
Two thirds of Canadians now hold an unfavourable view of China, a number that was only 51 percent back in 2018.
Ottawa has had close ties with Beijing in the past due to the country’s roaring economy needing lots of natural resources.
During Chretien’s time as Prime minister he sent many large delegations of cabinet ministers and government officials on trade junkets to China.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited China on a state visit back in 2017 in an attempt to kick-start free trade talks with Beijing but the trip was ultimately unsuccessful.
Trade only looks increasingly bleak with the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Ninety percent of respondents said China can’t be trusted on human rights and the rule of law.
The overall views on trade with China were mixed. While respondents were more likely to acknowledge that trade with China has a negative impact on our economy and communities they also felt it was to Canada’s economic benefit as a whole.
The highest level of negative sentiment towards China’s restrictions on beef and canola export came from Alberta and Saskatchewan, the two provinces affected most by the restrictions.
The future of trade was a close split in terms of Canadians optimism towards the relationship. Fifty-four percent of respondents to the poll said that the current diplomatic spat will sort itself out and things will go “back to normal.” While the other forty-six percent felt the relationship is in long-term trouble.