by Barbara Kay. May 8, 2013.
Top court backs new trial for woman accused of hiding dead baby in trash bag
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a woman accused of hiding her dead baby in a plastic bag must once again stand trial.
In a unanimous 7-0 decision Friday, the Supreme Court upheld an appeal court decision to order a new trial for Ivana Levkovic.
Levkovic said she was alone in her Mississauga, Ont., apartment in the spring of 2006 when she fell and delivered a baby girl, which was later determined to have been at or near full term.
She placed the child’s body in a plastic bag and put it out on her balcony, where a building superintendent later discovered it.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a retrial for Ivana Levkovic, who’d been acquitted in a lower court. The Mississauga, Ont. resident abandoned her infant’s corpse in 2006, claiming it had been born dead. Although it is a crime to dispose of a child’s dead body with the intent to conceal its delivery, whether it died “before, during or after” birth, the word “child” is not defined in the Criminal Code.
In this context, the Supreme Court understands “child” to be defined by the gestational stage at which a baby “would likely” have been born alive. But Parliament has declined to set a “fixed threshold based on gestational age” (as the Supreme Court put it in its judgment). And so one can appreciate the lower court’s confusion. How did we come to this muddled pass?
At the height of radical feminism’s influence in the 1970s and ‘80s, it became the received wisdom, to which all Canadian political parties have since deferred, that a woman’s right to abortion for any reason, and at any point in gestation, was absolute.
Any public opposition to this position sparks censure from absolutists. That some of the least patriarchal and most sexually sophisticated nations in the world — the Netherlands, the U.K., France and Finland — have sensible gestational limits governing on-demand abortion does not sway them.
Pro-choice absolutists also are impervious to scientific research and technological advances, especially ultrasounds, that have dramatically altered public perception of the unborn baby’s humanity, as well as to disturbing abuses of abortion freedoms. Most notably, burgeoning sex-selection abortion rates in certain cultural communities have become a game-changer for all but the most militant pro-choicers.
Many Canadians believe that we’re stuck with this abortion free-for-all by virtue of the Supreme Court’s 1988 decision in R.vs Morgentaler. But that’s not true. Justice Bertha Wilson, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, wrote at the time: “The so-called ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ approaches