by Steven Ertelt
December 6, 2007
Ottawa, Canada (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the Canadian parliament will finally have an opportunity to vote on a bill that holds criminals accountable when they attack a pregnant woman and kill or injure her unborn child. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs says bill C-484 can receive a vote.
Unlike in the United States, Canada law does not recognize the unborn child as a second victim in criminal attacks. A baby is not considered a human being worthy of legal protection until after birth.
The committee’s decision means the measure will get a vote and not just a debate, as has happened before.
Peter Ryan, the director of New Brunswick Right to Life, told LifeNews.com he is elated by the decision.
"This is the news we’ve been waiting for," he said and added that the legislation, sponsored by Edmonton Sherwood Park MP Ken Epp, "would recognize the unborn in Canadian law."
"We need to now focus on encouraging all MPs to support it," he added.
Other pro-life groups plan to work for the bill as well, including Women for Women’s Health, which has criticized some lawmakers for erroneously claiming the measure would re-open the debate on abortion.
"Currently, Canada is one of the only democratic countries that does not have some type of protection for unborn victims of crimes incorporated into its criminal code," Marie-Christine Houle, the group’s director, told LifeNews.com.
Epp has said this bill "is all about protecting the choice of a woman to give birth to her child" and pointed out that it specifically mentions it doesn’t apply to abortion.
Houle referred to the cases of Olivia Talbot and Aysun Sessen, women who were killed while respectively 6 and 7 months pregnant.
"They were brutally stripped of their right to give birth to the child they desired and already loved deeply," Houle said. "We feel it is time for the victims and their families to get
the justice they deserve."
Aysun Sesen, 25, died on October 2 after she was stabbed in the stomach and her baby was delivered stillborn.
"The law is wrong," Aydin Cocelli, her brother-in-law, said at the time. "My sister-in-law got killed, but her baby got killed too, and that should count."
This is the second try to get an unborn victims law in place.
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.