Canada’s pro-life movement unites behind motion on humanity of unborn
OTTAWA, Ontario, February 10, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life organizations across Canada are urging support for a historic motion tabled in Parliament Monday seeking to launch an inquiry into the humanity of the unborn.
The motion, by Tory MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre), seeks to establish a special committee to consider when human life begins. Woodworth is calling for a re-examination of section 223 of the Criminal Code, which states that a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb.
Jakki Jeffs, executive director of Alliance for Life Ontario, said she and her organization “applaud” Woodworth for “raising the appalling plight of children before birth and the lack of recognition let alone protection of their lives by our Canadian Criminal Code.”
“We feel that it is long overdue given the fact that the government was asked to look into such matters years ago,” said Natalie Hudson Sonnen, executive director of the national educational group LifeCanada.
“It is an international embarrassment that we are in this current situation,” she continued. “Most countries in the world have revisited the issue, but Canada remains mired in a political correctness that forbids us to discuss such issues.”
Abortion was decriminalized 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.
Woodworth’s motion proposes to set up a committee to look at the medical evidence relating to the humanity of the unborn. It will need majority support from the House of Commons, and Woodworth expects an hour of debate in March and another hour in June.
Campaign Life Coalition has backed the motion and is urging its supporters to contact MPs and tell them to support the effort. “Campaign Life Coalition encourages the initiative of any MP who presents pro-life legislation,” said Jim Hughes, CLC’s president.
“It is about time women and men who disagree with the radical feminist agenda stand up and speak up about the need to respect the dignity of every human being at every stage of his or her existence. Our MPs need to hear from us,” said Michèle Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, which was co-founded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus.
Jane Richard, president of Kitchener Waterloo Right to Life, based in Woodworth’s area, said they have “great hope and determination” to support the motion.
“We are under no illusion that there will be an immediate law to make abortion illegal, in particular the first trimester, however this motion sets a precedent for getting to the fundamental principle of whether or not an preborn child is a person that has implications for the protection of life beyond the womb,” she said.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has opposed the motion, reiterating the Harper government’s stance against re-opening the abortion debate. Both the Opposition New Democrats and the Liberals have slammed it as an affront to “reproductive freedom.”
The reaction from the political class was no surprise, says Boulva. “Canadian society has accepted abortion as a so-called ‘right’,” she said. “We’ve been hiding our heads in the sand for decades, tragically choosing to ignore scientific facts regarding the beginning of human life.”
She said political leaders are even rejecting the simple request to examine the scientific evidence “because they are afraid of the backlash they might suffer from radical groups.”
Some pro-life groups have expressed concerns over Woodworth’s statements that he believes the unborn become human at some point before “complete birth,” suggesting a possible gestational approach. However these groups have also expressed confidence that, if conducted properly, the committee’s only possible conclusion will be that humanity begins at conception.
“Scientific evidence is clear that life begins at conception,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC’s national organizer. “We trust Parliament will recognize and protect all human life from conception to natural death.”
Boulva noted that this was the clear opinion of Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, regarded as the father of modern genetics.
“From the moment of fertilization, that is from the earliest moment of biologic existence, the developing human being is alive, and entirely distinct from the mother who provides nourishment and protection,” he said. “From fertilization to old age, it is the same living human being who grows, develops, matures and eventually dies. This particular human being, with his or her characteristics, is unique and therefore irreplaceable.”
Jeffs also expressed concern that the motion focuses specifically on “medical” evidence given that the Canadian Medical Association approves abortions up until 20 weeks.
“The medical profession has become a major threat to life and health,” she said. “The science of embryology has confirmed when an individual human life begins and we remain hopeful if Mr Woodworth’s motion passes that experts from all relevant disciplines will have the opportunity to present their evidence.”
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
Get contact info for all MPs here.