Pro-life Americans are watching Canada closely. When National Right to Life News asked for a perspective on the Motion 312 vote, our campaign director, Mike Schouten submitted an opinion column. We thank them for publishing!
Debate in Canada’s Parliament “huge step forward in the ongoing debate regarding the status of children in the womb”
By Mike Schouten
Campaign Director, WeNeedaLaw.ca
Editor’s note. As Margaret Somerville explained in a piece we ran earlier this week, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’ s “Motion 312” would have “set up a parliamentary committee to examine the definition of when a child becomes a ‘human being’ within the homicide provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code.” Unbelievably, currently it is at the moment of complete birth! Although the motion failed yesterday, as anticipated, Mr. Schouten believes that this did not signal “the end of a conversation. Rather, it should be seen as a huge step forward in the ongoing debate regarding the status of children in the womb.”
Canadians can be thankful to Conservative Member of Parliament, Mr. Stephen Woodworth for courageously putting Motion 312 on the table. It was Mr. Woodworth’s goal with his motion that a Parliamentary committee would be formed to study the Criminal Code definition of ‘human being’ as found in Section 223 (1). That portion of the Criminal Code states that a child becomes a ‘human being’ only at the moment of complete birth. As a result of this law, preborn children receive no legal protection under the homicide offences, or any other offences against ‘persons.’
The MP from Kitchener Center in southern Ontario is to be applauded for his work over the past nine months. He singlehandedly brought the issue of pre-born human rights into the spot light in a Canadian culture that has been so incredibly resistant to discuss anything that could even remotely be associated with abortion.
Canada has been void of any legal protections for children in the womb since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Criminal Code’s abortion provisions in the 1988 R. V. Morgentaler decision.
The SCC found that those provisions violated a woman’s Charter right to ‘security of the person’ on procedural grounds only—the SCC did not recognize a constitutional ‘right to abortion.’ Rather the Court stated that it was Parliament’s responsibility to create a new abortion law that would balance the interests of preborn children and women.
The defeat of Motion 312 in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon is not the end of a conversation. Rather, it should be seen as a huge step forward in the ongoing debate regarding the status of children in the womb. Canadian pro-lifers do well to remember the words of Sir Winston Churchhill: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
It’s common knowledge that discussion concerning the rights of pre-born children has been going on for decades, and we can be greatly encouraged that Motion 312 has taken the debate into the House of Commons, where it needs to be in order to change the status quo.
Many pundits have said Motion 312 has been a “debate about having a debate.” The past nine months have shown it is possible to have a country wide dialogue, even if the subject matter is sensitive. Human rights issues are never easy to discuss. As society becomes further educated, we’re not always comfortable with what needs to be done with the new-found knowledge. Due to advances in science, the humanity of the pre-born child has never been clearer and pro-lifers need to continue to push for the recognition of pre-born human rights.
Some pro-choice MP’s are convinced that Canadians have moved on from this issue. The New Democratic Party of Canada MP’s all voted against the motion. In the preceding weeks to yesterday’s historic vote, Niki Ashton, the New Democrat Party’s critic on women’s issues and her colleague, Irene Mathyssen, had been most vocal in their belief that human rights should be denied for children in the womb. I’m not sure that these women realize they are among a few extreme members of the ‘pro-choice movement’ who continue to demand abortion for any or no reason through the entire gestational period.
In reality a majority of Canadians don’t support the status quo and want restrictions in place. Most people are uncomfortable being in the same league as North Korea and China when it comes to pre-born human rights.
Every Western nation has laws that restrict abortion in some way. There is no doubt that the issue is controversial in those nations too, yet they have the political maturity to openly discuss it. Canada is the odd one out in its zealous refusal to even consider a discussion about legal protection for preborn children.
Thankfully, we now know that the discussion can be held and the “We Need a Law” campaign will continue to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves.