by Steven Ertelt
August 2, 2007
Dartmouth, Canada (LifeNews.com) — The actions of a Canadian man are bringing forth a renewed debate in Canada about whether or not there are two victims when a pregnant women and her unborn child are attacked. In this case, 43 year-old Alan Bryan has been accused of attacking his pregnant girlfriend with a sword.
The unidentified woman, who was three months into her pregnancy, was found by authorities on Tuesday with multiple stab wounds.
Bryan was apprehended and appeared in court on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a sword.
However, the charges only apply to the attack on the woman and not to any potential death or injury to her baby, because Canada doesn’t have an unborn victims law similar to the one in the United States and 35 states.
Those laws allow prosecutors to hold criminals better accountable for their actions by charging them for two crimes against two victims.
That’s something Shirley MacDougall of Nova Scotia’s Catholic Women’s League of Canada says should be the case in Canada.
"From our point of view, a fetus is a life. It should be a double attempted murder," she told the Chronicle Herald newspaper. "There has to be some charge."
Canada’s law only allows charges to be brought for crimes against people after birth and Alberta Conservative MP Leon Benoit was denied a vote on his 2006 bill to have Canada’s law recognize both victims as victims.
In June 2006, a parliamentary committee ruled the private member’s bill "non-votable" in a closed-door committee hearing. Benoit said the committee’s position on C-291 was out of step with what other people say about the legality of the bill.
"They believe it clearly contravenes the constitution, which is just out of line with what everybody else says," he said at the time.
The measure became embroiled in the abortion debate after pro-abortion groups complained about protecting both mother and child from assaults.
Theresa Brien, a Halifax Regional Police spokeswoman told the newspaper that the woman’s injuries in this case "continue to be considered life-threatening" and there is no word on the condition of her unborn child.