The murder of Candice Rochelle Bobb from Etobicoke, ON is a tragedy complicated by the fact that she was 24 weeks pregnant with her third son. Since 2000, at least twenty-four Canadian women have been victims of violent assault or murder while carrying their child to term.
The well-documented events of Bobb’s murder on May 15, 2016 have been under the microscope of legal experts across the country due to the emergency C-section which resulted in the live birth of her son. Now, three weeks after Bobb passed away, her little boy has died as well.
Toronto police are deciding whether or not a suspect could be charged with the baby’s death. Obviously Bobb’s son died as a result of the criminal act perpetrated on his mother. But if only he had died on the other side of the birth canal, the decision to charge or not would be much simpler.
After all, the Criminal Code in Section 223 is clear about when a child becomes a human being: “A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.” Never mind that this contradicts everything we’ve every learned about the science of embryology – from sixth grade onward. Or that animals and white picket fences have more protection in the Criminal Code than a child that is moments from being born.
I digress. The reason the Toronto police are grappling with what to do about the death of Bobb’s son is because the significance of this case will be felt nationwide. Canadians see that our current criminal law defies common sense and scientific fact. They know that it is absurd that, had Bobb’s child died mere moments before birth, the law would have refused to recognize his existence.
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In Section 223(2) of the Criminal Code, the law is clear: “a person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.” This applies to the death of any child who could live outside the mother, even for a brief time.
But what about the families of those who have experienced nearly identical tragedies and their child didn’t make it past the birth canal? What about the case of Molly, who had lived for 30 weeks in the safety of Cassandra Kaake’s womb and then died after her mom was brutally murdered and left in her burning home? Unlike Bobb’s son, no one was there to deliver Molly after her mom had been murdered and because of that, Molly doesn’t count in the eyes of the law.
Canadian law and policy-makers continue to bend over backwards to make sure we deny the pre-born child any possible protection, but does that mean criminals who violate a woman’s choice to carry her child to term should be allowed to do so without consequence?
The tragic case of Cassandra Kaake was the genesis for a private member’s bill that is currently being debated in the House of Commons. Bill C-225, or Cassie and Molly’s Law, will create a legal mechanism that enhances the safety of Canadian women and recognizes the safety of their family by adding new offences in the Criminal Code for injuring or killing a pre-born child while committing an offence against a pregnant woman. Bill C-225 will protect a woman’s choice to bring her child to term safely and protect the life of her child, through criminal law. Canada needs stronger deterrents to committing violence against pregnant women; Cassie and Molly’s Law is a step in the right direction.
Perhaps, out of the ashes of these tragedies, Canada will wake up to the terrible injustice that our criminal laws perpetrate against the youngest and most vulnerable members of the human family.
LifeNews Note: Mike Schouten is director for WeNeedaLAW.ca, a public awareness campaign building support for legislation that protects children in the womb.