Human Rights Day, every December 10th, commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to the Universal Declaration, Canada is also a signatory to six other major international human rights conventions. One of these is the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Among other important statements, the preamble to the Convention says, “The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care,including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” (Emphasis added). There are varying degrees of consistency among the 140 signatories to the treaty as to what constitutes appropriate legal protection before birth, but all of them have at least some legal protection for children before birth. All, except Canada. We are unique in the democratic world – Canada is the only country with no legal protection for children before they are born.
While most Canadians find, for example, sex-selective and late-term abortion deplorable, abortion extremists celebrate the incredible legal void which sets us apart from all other civilized countries. They are convinced that any legal protection, however minor it might be, would somehow take away their “right to choose” and therefore oppose any laws that would limit abortion.
The shrill voices of a few who seek to polarize the pre-born rights debate have had a profound impact. Not only are 100,000 pre-born children eliminated every year in Canada, increasingly born Canadians are also struggling with the consequences of this legal void.
Exactly one year ago, on Human Rights Day 2014, Cassandra and Molly Kaake were brutally murdered in their Windsor, Ontario home. Molly had lived for approximately seven months in that home with her mom, Cassandra. Molly’s father, Jeff Durham, was busy painting a new bedroom for Molly. Her extended family, including grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins had not yet met Molly but were looking forward to meeting her for the first time.
The police caught, detained and charged Matthew Brush for this heinous crime. However, he was only charged with one count of murder. Why? Because Molly was not yet born and Canada’s void concerning legal protection for children before birth even extends to pre-born victims of crime – children whose mothers made the choice to carry them to term.
Canada’s justice system continues to fail them by refusing to acknowledge Molly as a victim in a horrific attack that resulted in her death.
This is not right. It is also in direct violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child.
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Today the Liberal government will issue statements affirming Canada’s high standard of human rights and will undoubtedly commit to working to promote human rights around the world. This is well and good, but the greatest violations of human rights are occurring right here in our own country. Victims’ rights continue to be disrespected and trampled due to our lawmakers viewing pre-born human rights as a political liability.
Since the tragedy that took his daughter’s life, Jeff Durham has launched the Molly Matters campaign. Mr. Durham wants to ensure that there will be justice for Molly’s peers and he believes a pre-born victims of crime law would address this serious legal void. Such a law, says Durham, would send a message that the child is also a victim of the crime if he or she is injured or killed when his or her mother is attacked.
On the Molly Matters blog Durham writes, “We are demanding that the Canadian government acknowledge the difference between abortion and homicide. We are calling for a law that would make it a crime to cause harm to an unborn baby in an act of violence against the mother. We want the perpetrators of such crimes to be held accountable for their offence against both choice and life.
Nothing more – nothing less.”
The need for a law in these circumstances should be obvious to either side of the abortion debate.
On this Human Rights Day our political leaders do well to consider the extreme position Canada is in when it comes to appropriate legal protection before birth. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly said that Parliament has the power to enact laws to protect the pre-born child. A pre-born victims of crime law to protect children of women who choose to carry them to term would be a step in the right direction. It’s time for Canada to get in line with every other signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by enacting legal protection for the smallest members of the human family.
Lifenews Note: Mike Schouten is the campaign director for WeNeedaLAW.ca, a public awareness campaign building support for laws protecting pre-born human rights.