A Canadian woman testified in court on Thursday about how she killed her boyfriend after he viciously attacked her following her refusal to have an abortion.
The court hearing comes just weeks before members of the Canadian Parliament are slated to hold the second hour of debate on a bill addressing coerced abortions.
Melinda Morin told the court she had no choice but to resort to deadly violence when she was forced to defend herself from Barry Neil Godwin when he became enraged by her decision to refuse an abortion.
“I was telling him I didn’t want to go through with the abortion,” Morin said, according to the Edmonton Sun, adding that she told her boyfriend she planned to raise the child herself. “He didn’t want a kid out there that was his. He was upset, he wanted me to have an abortion. There was no way around it.”
Morin says she tried to leave her apartment but Godwin wouldn’t let her.
“He kicked me … in the stomach,” she said, according to the newspaper. “He grabbed me by the hair and he was pulling me up … the stairs. I ran to the kitchen. That’s when I grabbed the knife.”
Morin doesn’t recall stabbing Godwin with the knife during the ensuing fight but she remembers trying in vain to flee the building.
The woman is charged with second-degree murder in the killing that took place in November 2009.
The incident is one of many MPs may wrestle with as they consider Roxanne’s Law, named after another woman — Roxanne Fernando of Manitoba — whose boyfriend attempted to force her to have an abortion in 2007. She was beaten and left to die in a snow bank after she refused her boyfriend’s lobbying to get an abortion.
The private member’s bill, C-510, comes from Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge of Winnipeg, who is the chairman of the pro-life caucus of MPs in the Parliament.
“No pregnant woman should ever have to choose between protecting herself and protecting her baby,” the lawmaker told members of the House of Commons during the first hour of debate this month.
The second hour of debate is currently scheduled for December 13 and a vote on the bill is expected two days later. If the bill receives a favorable vote it will go to a committee where it can be debate and possible amended.
Priests for Life of Canada, which is supporting the measure, says: “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.
“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.”
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.