OTTAWA, Ontario, February 6, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Canadian member of Parliament has filed a historic motion in the House of Commons on Monday calling for Parliament to establish a special committee to consider when human life begins.
“Don’t accept any law that says some human beings are not human beings!” Conservative MP Steve Woodworth told a press conference at the National Press Theatre. “No Member of Parliament should remain silent in the face of any law that says some human beings are not human beings.”
The pro-life MP, who represents Kitchener Centre, has called for Parliament to re-examine section 223 of Canada’s Criminal Code, a 400-year-old provision inherited from British common law that stipulates a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb.
“Section 223 is, purely and simply, a law that says some human beings are not human beings,” said Woodworth.
“Now there might be some people who can convince themselves that a child magically transforms into a human being when their little toe pops out of the birth canal,” he told reporters. “However, I’ve concluded that modern medical science will inform us that children are in reality human beings at some point before the moment of complete birth.”
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While Woodworth has emphasized that his motion has implications beyond abortion, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson issued a statement this morning reiterating the Harper government’s position that they will not reopen the debate on abortion.
“Private members motions are considered in accordance with the rules of Parliament,” said Nicholson, who was once regarded as a strong pro-life MP. “The Prime Minister has been very clear [that] our government will not reopen this debate.”
Abortion was legalized in Canada in 1969 with the passage of Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus crime bill, which allowed a committee of doctors to approve the deadly procedure. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down that law in 1988, calling on Parliament to enact a new one.
But numerous attempts by pro-life MPs have been rebuffed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative government took power in 2006 and currently holds a majority, has insisted he will “not permit anyone” to open the debate on abortion in Parliament.
In his remarks on Monday, Woodworth emphasized that his motion accords with the view of Madam Justice Bertha Wilson in the 1988 R. v. Morgentaler decision.
“The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state’s interest in its protection becomes ‘compelling’ I leave to the informed judgement of the legislature which is in a position to receive guidance on the subject from all the relevant disciplines,” Justice Wilson wrote.
Before the special committee called for by Woodworth can be established, the motion must get majority support from the House of Commons. Woodworth expects an hour of debate on the motion in March and another hour in June.
His motion proposes to give the committee ten months to prepare a final report detailing the medical evidence, whether or not it is consistent with the current Criminal Code, and possible legislative options for Parliament to affirm or amend the Code.
“History is littered with disastrous examples of laws which pretended some people were not human beings to achieve some desired result or suit someone’s philosophy,” said Woodworth.
But, he explained, “Just laws must be based on accurate evidence, not arbitrary lines unrelated to reality. If there’s no objective criteria for who’s a human being, then personhood and the fundamental rights that go with it can be defined in any way any powerful person or group decides. Is that the Canada you want?”
“If we care about the truth, we will courageously follow the facts wherever they lead,” he added.
The effort has been backed by numerous pro-life and faith-based groups, including Campaign Life Coalition, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, LifeCanada, and the Catholic Civil Rights League.
To send a letter of support to Stephen Woodworth:
Room 334, Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
Other contact information:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper