The Canadian Parliament will engage, on September 21, in a rare debate over abortion and pro-life issues as Tory MP Stephen Woodworth moves ahead with a debate on his bill to define unborn children as human beings.
Woodworth wants Parliament to create a committee to examine the question in one hour of debate next month and another hour of debate. The committee would, if Parliament approves, review Section 223 of the Criminal Code, which says a child becomes “a human being . . . when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.”
That section of Canadian law also says a homicide on a child happens when someone “causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.”
Woodworth, according tothe National Post, argues, “If a child five minutes before birth can be defined as not a human being, then the question is who’s next?”
The MP understands he is acting as a private member and that the Conservative Canadian government doesn’t necessarily support his initiative.
“The prime minister and justice minister have to speak for themselves. I don’t take any issue with any statement that the government won’t reopen this debate,” he said. “I’m acting as a private member.”
Woodworth points out, “Once we decide whether or not a child is a human being before birth then we can have an honest conversation about all of the other issues.”
He says “Section 223 is, purely and simply, a law that says some human beings are not human beings.” Does Canada really want to place itself in this kind of a legal position?
Surely an update is in order, given all the scientific information we’ve amassed over the past four centuries.
He notes that even former Madam Justice Bertha Wilson, in the Morgentaler Decision, called for “the informed judgment of the legislature… to receive guidance on the subject from all the relevant disciplines.”
Natalie Hudson Sonnen, executive director of LifeCanada supports the proposal, saying, “We feel that it is long overdue given the fact that the government was asked to look into such matters years ago.”
“What is exciting about this initiative, is that it is educating Canadians,” said Natalie Hudson Sonnen, executive director of LifeCanada. “Fully 79% did not know that in Canada there is no protection for human life before birth what-so-ever. This is truly alarming to large majorities of the Canadian public and they are looking to our leaders for answers.”
“If 92% of Canadians feel strongly enough about sex-selection abortion, that they want to see it banned, and 72% of Canadians feel that there should be some protection for all human life before birth (boys and girls), how is it that the Canadian Government insists on stifling the issue of unborn human rights? In light of the 400 year-old law in the Canadian Criminal Code that completely disregards human life before the moment of complete delivery, it seems that a discussion would be just the thing,” the group added.
“Campaign Life Coalition encourages the initiative of any MP who presents pro-life legislation,” added Jim Hughes, the pro-life group’s president.
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The full text of Motion 312 follows:
That a special committee of the House be appointed and directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth and to answer the questions hereinafter set forth;
that the membership of the special committee consist of twelve members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair shall be from the government party; that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the membership report of the special committee be presented to the House no later than 20 sitting days after the adoption of this motion;
that substitutions to the membership of the special committee be allowed, if required, in the manner provided by Standing Order 114(2);
that the special committee have all the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders; and
that the special committee present its final report to the House of Commons within 10 months after the adoption of this motion with answers to the following questions,
(i) what medical evidence exists to demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth?,
(ii) is the preponderance of medical evidence consistent with the declaration in Subsection 223(1) that a child is only a human being at the moment of complete birth?,
(iii) what are the legal impact and consequences of Subsection 223(1) on the fundamental human rights of a child before the moment of complete birth?,
(iv) what are the options available to Parliament in the exercise of its legislative authority in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm, amend, or replace Subsection 223(1)?