Lessons from the United Kingdom

05/10/2012 / blog posts 

Last week Canada’s House of Commons closed the door on Motion 312. While over half of the Conservative caucus and four members of the Liberal Party of Canada voted in favour of examining the Criminal Code definition of a human being, the majority decided against it. So, at least for the foreseeable future, that 400 year old definition will remain and a child will not be considered human until they have fully exited their mother’s body.

Interestingly enough, though most Canadian politicians refuse to exude the confidence and leadership to discuss our laws in relation to modern day science, British politicians regularly embrace every opportunity to do so.

The Honourable Maria Miller, Minister for Women in the United Kingdom (yes, that’s their equivalent of Rona Ambrose) and a self-described “modern feminist”, has called for changes to Britain’s 24 week gestational limit on abortion. She has come to the conclusion that because babies are surviving at younger gestational ages, the limit should also be reduced. Ms. Miller said, “”You have got to look at these matters in a very common sense way. I looked at it from the very important stance of the impact on women and children. What we are trying to do here is not put obstacles in people’s way but to reflect the way medical science has moved on.” In other words, because of advances in science and medicine it’s time to assess the current laws in light of that newfound knowledge.

Meanwhile, here in Canada where we have no limits on abortion, Minister for Status of Women Rona Ambrose was vilified by some feminists for simply voting in favour of a scientific study into the humanity of the pre-born child. Others lauded Ms. Ambrose’s actions and have praised her efforts to draw attention to the plight of the pre-born, especially girls. Minister Ambrose’s UK counterpart, Ms. Miller surely took some flak for her recent comments, but from media reports across the pond, not the type of vitriol spewed at Ms. Ambrose.

Canada’s Parliament and the Canadian people as could learn a thing or two from the UK experience.

The first is that a gestational law is necessary to save viable pre-born humans. Canada currently has no legal protection for children in the womb and abortions are legally permitted throughout all 40 weeks of gestation. This is the current reality in spite of the Canadian Medical Association setting the ‘age of viability’ at 20 weeks.

Secondly, the status quo should be challenged, especially in light of science and our modern day understanding of life in the womb. As a modern day feminist, relying on common sense, the UK Minister for Women is challenging the status quo in her country. She is doing so not as a misogynist or a religious crank pot, but with genuine concern for the effect of late-term abortion on children and women. Canada has experienced the current status quo for nearly twenty-five years and it’s time that our country challenged it as well. New policies, based on new knowledge should be brought forward and examined carefully. As Ms. Miller stated, not to put “obstacles in people’s way but to reflect the way medical science has move on.”

It could be said, the political maturation process in Canada is slower than that of the United Kingdom. But we are catching up. Member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth fought valiantly against the status quo, and lost. Notwithstanding the extremist views of some feminists, the level of intellectual debate surrounding Mr. Woodworth’s motion is a good indication we won’t have to wait another twenty-five years for the next challenge to the status quo.


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