As you may know, as a long-time member of the all-party Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus – and as a father of five and now grandfather of five – I work with others to try to increase respect for life from conception to natural death.
In fact, I tabled a Private Member’s bill aimed at protecting the rights of the unborn during the 2006 session of Parliament. If passed, C-291 would have addressed a current gap in federal law by making it a separate crime when an unborn child is injured or killed when targeted in an attack on its mother. Unfortunately, Parliament did not have the chance to vote on my bill, but I will continue to work to have this issue appropriately dealt with. This issue is obviously of great importance to me. I should inform you that the Prime Minister was also supportive of this piece of legislation. However, he was somewhat concerned with possible media distortion of the intent of the bill.
Clearly, this is a topic which concerns me greatly. I was therefore very pleased to support my colleague Mr. Stephen Woodworth when he brought forward his Private Member’s Motion, M-312. I was proud to attend Mr. Woodworth’s initial speech on his bill and I look forward to continuing to support him as he works to see his vision realized.
There have been several of the usual zealots making ridiculous and unfounded claims that Mr. Woodworth’s Motion would result in the criminalization of abortion. This is absolutely and categorically untrue. The success of M-312 would see a dozen Members of Parliament, imaginably both pro-life and pro-choice, meet from time to time as a Special Committee. They will sit down, and as federal elected representatives are known to do, examine a provision of a federal law. They will study the Criminal Code’s legal definition of ‘human being’, listening to expert evidence and then report back to Parliament with some proposed answers to the four questions put before them.
The Committee members will participate in a reasoned democratic discussion and review of a piece of Canadian legislation, which has its roots in 400 year old law. Some would argue that a legal definition of ‘human being’ that old may be in need of a review.
And what happens if the Committee members comment on the legal sustainability of such a definition? The Committee’s findings will be non-binding. However, the members will have contributed to a robust and coherent national discussion on what is human life and when it begins.
I encourage you to join me in supporting democratic debate and discussion by signing and circulating both of the enclosed petitions if you are so inclined. One deals specifically with M-312 and encourages Parliament to amend Section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st Century medical evidence which shows that a child is a human being before birth. The second petition recognizes that Canada is the only nation in the Western world without any laws restricting abortion and calls on Parliament to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible. As a nation that prides itself on being a global human rights leader, it is not unreasonable to examine the current Criminal Code definition of ‘human being’, which finds its roots in centuries old concepts of science and medicine.
Thank you and God bless,
Leon Benoit, MP