by Steven Ertelt
May 22, 2006
Ottawa, Canada (LifeNews.com) — A member of the Canadian parliament has introduced legislation similar to laws in the United States that protect pregnant women and their unborn children from acts of violence. The measure would make it a second crime when an assailant attacks a pregnant women and kills or injures her baby.
Alberta Conservative backbencher Leon Benoit, a pro-life MP, has introduced a private member’s bill, C-291, that is expected to be the second measure parliament will consider after it resumes its session next week.
"To me it’s all about protecting, especially, pregnant women against violence, and where they’ve made the choice to keep their child, of protecting that unborn child," Benoit told the Toronto Star newspaper.
The measure is expected to be strongly opposed by pro-abortion groups who say the bill, even though it has nothing to do with abortion, would give rights to unborn children they don’t support.
Benoit said he filed the measure because he was moved by the death of 19 year-old Olivia Talbot of Edmonton last year.
An assailant shot Olivia, who was six months pregnant at the time, once in the head and three times in the stomach. The gunman faces one count of first-degree murder in Olivia’s death but is not charged with the death of her baby.
That’s upset Mary Talbot, Olivia’s mom, who says she favors legalized abortion but wants to see unborn children protected in cases of violence.
She has been campaigning for a law like Benoit is proposing and met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper before he was elected to urge him to allow a vote on a bill. Harper has agreed and said MPs will have a free vote on Benoit’s legislation.
"I felt that there was something wrong with the law, that the fellow who had murdered my daughter and grandson wasn’t being charged with two murders," Talbot told the Star.
"He was 27 weeks’ gestation," said Talbot of her grandson, who she was able to briefly hold after he was removed from Olivia’s womb. "He was just barely nicked by a bullet, which was horrible, but he was perfect. He had long black hair and 10 fingers and 10 toes, and everything about him was perfect."
"To me, this person deliberately wanted the two deaths. So I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being charged for both," she told the Star in an interview.
Benoit’s bill would charge the assailant with a second crime, even if he didn’t know the woman was pregnant or intended to kill the baby. That’s consistent with criminal law which holds criminals accountable for killing people whether they meant to or not.
Pro-life groups support the measure and Mary Ellen Douglas, of the Campaign Life Coalition, told the Toronto paper that Benoit’s legislation is a "common sense" bill and says "in the way it’s worded, I don’t think the Supreme Court would have a problem with this. They shouldn’t."
"I would think pro-abortion women would find this bill something they would absolutely want to bring forward because it relates to the mother and the fact that a mother has accepted this child in that sense," she said.
C-291 will be debated for an hour on May 30 and is expected to have a second debate and vote 15 business days later.