Whether your summer involved staying around home visiting the local swimming holes or travelling great distances, the chances are most of us will have seen Canada geese at some point. And, if not the geese themselves, certainly their ill-placed feces scattered across lakeside beaches.
Though majestic in flight, these large fowl have become a nuisance in recent years, and with a birth rate hovering around 5 goslings per year, new methods of population control are being explored. One such method is egg addling. This practice, which is detailed on Environment Canada’s website as well as The Humane Society of the United States, is a process whereby geese eggs are gently removed from the nest, coated in vegetable oil and then returned to the nest. The purpose of the oil is to prevent the embryo from developing any further. Essentially, it blocks the transfer of oxygen and other gases through the shell. The reason this practice is highly successful is because the female goose will continue laying on the eggs for a lengthy period not realizing they will never hatch. Alternatively, if the eggs are removed and destroyed, she simply will lay more eggs nearby and nullify any attempt to decrease the population. In both the United States and Canada, anyone wishing to engage in the practise of egg addling must first retain a permit from authorities. Seriously.
One of the steps in the process of addling is to place the eggs in a bucket of water. If the egg sinks it is considered humane to coat it with oil. On the other hand, if the egg floats it is understood to be past 14 days of incubation which means the embryo is now viable and it would be inhumane to kill it. Regardless of your views of Canada geese, it is understandable there are some guidelines on when and how their pre-born goslings can be killed.
Juxtapose these regulations with the complete lack thereof when it comes to unwanted humans. The contrast is difficult to ignore. We have rules based on compassion to prevent people from killing a viable pre-born gosling, but no rules whatsoever when it comes to people killing unwanted pre-born people.
In Canada there are multiple ways to legally end the lives of viable fetuses; some of which are barbaric and cruel. In 2010 there were over 10,000 abortions past 13 weeks gestation in our country. These pre-born children suffered through the inhumane procedure of being torn limb by limb from their mother’s womb. Almost every other civilized nation and the vast majority of European countries provide fetal protection after 13 weeks gestation. Is this because these countries are paternalistic and oppressive? No, it’s because they care about human rights.
Modern technology allows us to observe a fetus in the womb with incredible clarity. By the thirteenth week of development the fetus is fully formed, his bones are becoming harder, the sensory system is developing (meaning pain can be detected), and hair begins growing on his head. These physiological facts are not rooted in religion, rather they are based on science. Canadians need to ask themselves, if we can implement life-saving measures for a developing goose based on information gathered through a bucket of water, should we not be able to do likewise for developing humans with all the options available in a civilized society? If we are a truly humane and compassionate society then it’s time for Canada to implement laws reflecting respect and dignity for pre-born humans.