Canadian Pro-Life Advocates Seek Law Protecting Pregnant Women, Babies

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 3, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canadian Pro-Life Advocates Seek Law Protecting Pregnant Women, Babies Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 3,

Ottawa, Canada ( — Pro-life advocates in Canada have been pressing for a law similar to one in the United States that offers both justice and further legal protection for pregnant women and their unborn children. They want a law that holds criminals accountable for killing on injuring both mother and child in an attack against the mother.

The case of Alan Bryan is prompting more members of the Canadian parliament to take a new look at the idea.

Bryan, 43, has been accused of attacking his pregnant girlfriend Charlene Knapp with a sword. Knapp, who was three months into her pregnancy, was found by authorities in August with multiple stab wounds.

Knapp’s baby died as a result of the attack, and she underwent four operations while in hospital in Halifax after the incident.

Bryan was apprehended and appeared in court on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a sword. He was found fit to stand trial last month after a 30-day psychiatric assessment

However, he has not been charged in any way in connection with the death of Knapp’s child.

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canadian Family Action Coalition, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that’s a travesty.

"You’re killing one life, but you’re not killing the other because it is not considered a human being," he said. "To me, this highlights the essence of recognizing life. Either we respect life or we don’t, and I believe we should be recognizing the life of the unborn child."

Rushfeldt said the issue should go to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary, but he hopes the Canadian Parliament will approve a bill recognizing both victims.

Alberta Conservative MP Leon Benoit was denied a vote on his 2006 bill to have Canada’s law recognize both 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.

Ontario Liberal MP Paul Steckle says several MPs may look at a bill that avoids the abortion debate, but their measure may only have the nation recognizing one victim by merely enhancing the sentence of the crime against the mother.