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In the midst of life we are in death

HELLO, pro-abortion people. Any comment on the Katrina Effert sentence? And the judge's words from the bench? Oh, unless you're deep in pro-life or so-called prochoice, you probably never heard of it. Now hear. In 2005 Effert, of Wetaskiwin, Alta.

HELLO, pro-abortion people. Any comment on the Katrina Effert sentence? And the judge's words from the bench?

Oh, unless you're deep in pro-life or so-called prochoice, you probably never heard of it. Now hear.

In 2005 Effert, of Wetaskiwin, Alta., aged 19, a tender age to be sure, strangled her newborn son with her underwear and threw the body into a neighbour's yard.

You can imagine the horror, the sympathy this caused. Hold your imagination.

"What seems like a straightforward case of 'girl murders baby' . . . turned into anything but," Vancouver writer Susan Martinuk wrote in her Calgary Herald column.

Juries (one with eight women and four male jurors) twice found Effert guilty of second-degree murder. But, with the higher wisdom of trained legal minds, Alberta appellate courts overturned the decisions of these lesser mortals. In May a court reduced the conviction to the much lesser crime of infanticide. And this month Court of Queen's Bench Judge Joanne Veit laid on the punishment: a three-year suspended sentence.

Said Veit, who, by the way, on her reasoning shouldn't be presiding over dog court: "While many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support. . . . Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant's death, especially at the hands of the infant's mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother."

"Gotcha," commented the unapproachably brilliant Mark Steyn. "So a superior court judge in a relatively civilized jurisdiction is happy to extend the principles underlying legalized abortion in order to mitigate the killing of a legal person - that's to say, someone who has managed to make it to the post-fetus stage. How long do those mitigating factors apply? I mean, 'onerous demands'-wise, the first month of a newborn's life is no picnic for the mother. How about six months in? The terrible twos?

"How smoothly the slick euphemisms - 'accept and sympathize . . . onerous demands' - lubricate the slippery slope."

Steyn never lets an opponent's jugular ungone to. He smartly milks the judge's premise: "Speaking of 'onerous demands,' suppose you're a 'mother without support' " - Effert in fact lived in her parents' home - "who's also got an elderly relative around with an 'onerous' chronic condition also making inroads into your time?"

Bombs away! That's what I call great collateral damage - to the "right-to-die" death merchants, feared not only by the frail and often affluent old but above all by the disabled.

I rejoiced when CKNW's Philip Till, interviewing Russell Ogden, executive director of the Farewell Foundations, asked about possible coercion by the family on the person to choose assisted suicide. "That's always a concern," Ogden blandly replied. Yeah, I guess so, I mean death being what it is and all that.

. . .

While still hot on the justice system: As if there isn't enough disillusionment - now this.

The Vancouver Sun recently recited the saga of Satpal Jhatu, hired at age 18 by Jagra Toore to kill his wife, Ranjit Toore, in 1987.

Jhatu beat Ranjit to death with a baseball bat. Then he doused the body with gasoline and burned it.

He got a life sentence - which, thank God, in Canada does not actually mean life, as it does in barbaric nations like the United States. In fact in 1989 Ottawa got an order to have the supposed lifer Jhatu deported to India on his release.

In the land of the Charter of Rights and pity for criminals, who clearly deserve more than their victims, in 1995 the Immigration Appeal Board stayed - junked - the government's order because the enlightened board found Jhatu was genuinely remorseful and deserved a second chance.

The National Parole Board was not to be out-enlightened by the appeal board. These institutions have their pride. So the parole people released Jhatu.

Of course the parolers were not so naive as to just open the cell door unconditionally. After all, they deal with quite a number of untrustworthy people. No, they prudently did so on the understanding that Jhatu would leave Canada voluntarily. Deport himself, so to speak.

And on Jan. 4, 2004, Jhatu received full parole with the agreement he would go to Vancouver airport on Feb. 16 to fly home.

Seven and a half years have passed and, in the rather unkind words of the Sun story, Jhatu "has remained on the lam" ever since. Didn't show up, as he promised!

What the hell is the world coming to - if you can't even take the word of a man who beats a woman to death, burns her body, and sincerely looks into the eyes of the authorities and tells them he's repented?

. . .

A shy Whytecliffe resident wonders why, if there's a shuttle bus from Caulfeild to Lions Bay, there isn't one to Whytecliffe. Good question.

tlautens@telus.net

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