The Canadian Parliament starts debate today on a bill that would make it a criminal offence to coerce a pregnant woman into having an abortion.
Roxanne’s Law (Bill C-510) receives its first reading today and it would protect women who do not want to have an abortion but are feeling pressured by a husband, partner, family or employer to do so.
“There is no reason that this legislation should not become law but some politicians will conclude that this is a ploy by the pro-life movement to ban abortions,” the pro-life group Priests for Life Canada said. “Obviously, this bill does not do that, it simply protects pregnant women against coercion.”
The legislation is named after Roxanne Fernando
, who moved to Canada from the Philippines in 2003.
In February 2007, the 24-year-old Roxanne was found brutally beaten in a snowy ditch outside of Winnipeg. She had died from extensive blood loss. She was murdered because she refused to have an abortion.
“Roxanne’s boyfriend, the father of the child, was trying to coerce her to have an abortion. Roxanne wanted to keep the baby, but he kept intimidating her to kill her unborn child. When she refused, he and two friends beat her brutally and left her to die in a ditch,” the group explained.
“Many women find themselves in a position of being coerced into having an abortion – an angry boyfriend, angry parents, unsympathetic friends, etc,” it continued. “Roxanne’s Law would empower pregnant women to take legal recourse when they find themselves facing coercion. Such empowerment could prevent coercion from escalating to violence like it did with Roxanne.”
In a strongly-worded letter to the Canada Free Press, César Fernández-Stoll of Etobicoke, Ontario urged MPs to vote for the bill.
“It is absurd enough to consider that in Canada, no legislation does exist to protect any human being from the beginning of life, which unless you can prove differently; starts at conception and goes all the way through natural death,” Fernández-Stoll wrote. “We all know, even if as it appears to be, under constant denial, that abortion is about destruction of life, as an assault on human dignity.”
“I hope you all consider the illogical trend to be established should this bill be rejected, because women would be bound to obey whatever anyone else decides on their bodies, which sounds kind of the antithesis of what the so-called ‘pro-choice’ movement predicates,’ the writer continued.
“As my representative, I am asking you to vote in favor of this bill C-510 while it is only a protection for something already available but politically nullified. By correctness, the dignity of women and babies and the freedom to be accountable and responsible for the choices exercised under that freedom,” Fernández-Stoll continued.
Canadian MPs have tried before to enact laws to help pregnant women like Roxanne.
Alberta Conservative MP Leon Benoit was denied a vote on his 2006 bill to have Canada’s law recognize both victims, including mother and unborn child.
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.
Priests for Life Canada – www.PriestsForLifeCanada.com