For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Random thoughts

Just a few thoughts to throw out...

In politics, Michael Ignatieff is now the official leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Which means our Liberal leader of the opposition is a man who:

  1. spent the majority of his adult life living outside of Canada, had said he never intended to return to Canada, and while in the US, use phrases that showed he thought of himself as an American, not a Canadian.
  2. came back to Canada and ran for leadership of the Liberal party. He lost. To Dion.
  3. after Dion was sacrificed to the wolves (I didn't think much of Dion, but at least he seemed more or less genuine), he ran for Liberal leadership again and won. Because no one else ran against him.
I would like for the Liberal Party of Canada to have a good, strong leader. I think it's important for our system of government of have a competent opposition. It didn't take long for me to realize that Ignatieff isn't going to be it. Better him than the coalition chimera, though. Would Rae have been better for Lib. leader? I doubt it. The Lib. party members didn't have much to choose from. Some are pushing for Justin Trudeau to run, but I don't think being PET's boy is quite enough to qualify, and he hasn't been involved in politics enough to have proven his own worth. I have to admit, having read some of his speeches, I don't have much hope for him.

Time will tell.

The European Union has voted to ban Canadian seal products. The price hunters would get for seals has dropped so low, many haven't bothered to launch their boats this year. Many are saying this is the death knell of the seal hunt entirely. Animal rights types are seeing this as a great victory, but it's a hollow one. The seals' populations are being kept in check by the hunt. Already, the Canadian government is having to talk about a cull to keep the numbers in control.

Here's the deal. With the hunt, people living in the area gain a much needed income, as well as food and raw materials for their own use. You know, that whole "back to the land," sustainable and traditional living thing that's supposed to be such a good thing. A quota system prevents over hunting, with the quota changing up or down as needed. Keeping the seal population relatively constant helps protect the seals themselves, as well as their food stocks, which also just happens to be shared with humans. The fish stocks are kept relatively safe (barring overfishing from European factory fleets. Oops. Did the EU forget about their own dirty laundry?).

Without the hunt, there aren't enough predators to keep the seal populations under control, even with the increases in polar bear populations. A burgeoning seal population will decimate fish stocks, as well as increase risk of disease, injury and violent death - overpopulated carnivorous species tend to turn on their own kind, and seals are not exactly docile creatures in the first place. Heck, even herbivores will kill and cannibalize each other when there are too many. I've never been able to look at a bunny or chicken the same way again, having seen this for myself. Loss of their food due to overpopulation will hurt human fisheries, of course, but will also lead to increased deaths due to starvation in the seal population, until their population dies off enough for the fish stocks to replenish themselves: a process which can take years. Somehow, I think a quick death with a bashed in head is less traumatic than slow starvation, illness and killing or being killed by their own species.

Keeping the numbers under control, then, will mean a cull. Since a cull is not a hunt, that means that the seals will be truly wasted. Their meat will not be used for food. Their pelts will not be used for furs or other items. Their omega 3 oils will not benefit any one's health.

But hey - there will be no more images of mean, nasty hunters using hakipiks on cute little baby seals to disturb people's consciences anymore.

Toronto's hospital for sick children made Canadian history recently, performing heart surgery on a fetus. The surgery was done in utero in March, giving her an extra month's gestation before her birth in April. She's since had more surgeries and should soon be going home. It was interesting to read that this type of surgery MUST be done in utero, as waiting until after birth has never succeeded. What I've yet to find anywhere is at what stage of gestation she was in when they performed the surgery. She couldn't have been too far along that they needed to giver her an extra month's gestation before birth, but it couldn't have been too early, either, or she would have been too weak and underdeveloped to have survived it.

The surgery itself was pretty amazing to read about. The things we can do with modern medical science! Stunning.

I can't help but think what many others have already pointed out, however. How can anyone justify abortion by saying the fetus is not human, not a person, or 'just a bunch of cells,' like a tumour or something? Now, I'm not talking about the embryo or zygote. Most women have no idea they're even pregnant in those early stages. Those who argue for abortion as a rights issue, or a women's issue, insist that until a baby is actually born, it's not really a baby - it's not a "person" - so killing it through abortion is acceptable.

I'm willing to concede that there may be medical reasons for an abortion even at later stages of development, and I am conflicted when it comes to the earlier stages before a fetus is viable, but there is no logical way to argue that a fetus old enough to survive, even if only through medical intervention, outside the womb isn't a baby. That this isn't an individual being, dependant on his on her mother, yes, but unique from her. A person. With medical technology pushing back how early "viable" really is, even that argument can be questioned.

There's no argument that what happens to us in utero can and does effect us, sometimes permanently. In some, it means permanent damage due to the mother abusing drugs, being in an accident, being on a prescription, not having enough money to eat properly - the list is long.

For others, it means actually having the hope of living beyond their 10th birthday, thanks to life saving surgery performed before birth.

This doesn't even touch the research that shows how stressed the mother is, what sort of music she listens to, what foods she eats, etc. all leave their marks on the developing fetus, possibly with life-long effects. Legions of women who want their babies will read out loud to their growing bellies, talk to them, listen to certain kinds of music, analyze every bite of food, avoid alcohol and cigarettes, all in the firm belief that these things are benefiting their growing child. Not their tumor. Not their non-person lump of cells. Their child. Their baby.

But if the mother doesn't want that child, suddenly the language changes. It's just a fetus, never a baby. It's not a person, it's a part of her body, so she can do whatever she wants to it. It's most definitely not anything the father has a say in. His DNA helped create that lump of cells. If he wants the resulting baby, even willing to take over the raising of that child without the mother, but she doesn't want to continue the pregnancy, he has no say. After all, we can't have a man "controlling" a woman's body. On the other hand, if the mother has the baby, he's expected to be financially responsible for it, whether he wanted it or not.

The whole thing smacks of hypocrisy.

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