Update 1:30pm EST: The Canadian Press has responded to LifeSiteNews admitting their original stories were "confusing" and that they later issued a correction to their clients. See story for details.
OTTAWA, February 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Canadian MP is calling out two major media outlets for falsely reporting on his letter to the RCMP asking them to investigate 491 cases of suspected homicide.
Tory MP Maurice Vellacott and two of his colleagues wrote to the federal police agency January 23 asking them to investigate Statistics Canada data indicating that 491 babies died after they were born alive following failed abortions between 2000 and 2009.
But coverage by both The Canadian Press and CBC charged that the MPs were asking the RCMP to investigate “some abortions as homicides.”
“Contrary to what some of the media have been reporting, my colleagues, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon, and I did not ask the RCMP to investigate any/all abortions after 19 weeks as possible homicides,” Vellacott wrote in a press release issued on Friday.
He says they are “fully aware” that abortion is legal in Canada throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
“Our request to the RCMP was not about the deaths of preborn children, but rather the deaths of children who had already been BORN ALIVE and who are, therefore, recognized as ‘human beings’ in Canadian law,” says Vellacott.
The lead on a story circulated across the country by The Canadian Press on Thursday morning said the MPs “want the RCMP to investigate any abortions performed after 19 weeks in Canada as possible homicides,” and failed to mention that they were actually expressing concern about babies that were born alive.
Later stories or updated versions have since mentioned the concern over live births. But a CBC piece buries it under a headline that still indicates the MPs want RCMP to “investigate some abortions as homicides,” and the original false coverage by The Canadian Press is still being circulated in numerous publications.
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The false media coverage enabled the Opposition to spin the MPs’ concern as an attack on abortion “rights” during Question Period on Thursday, which in turn allowed the government to dismiss the MPs’ concerns as a “reopening” of the abortion debate.
“These conservatives are trying to get the RCMP to investigate abortions as murder,” said Megan Leslie, the party’s deputy leader. “Will the Prime Minister make it clear that he and his government understand that abortion is not murder?”
In response, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “All members of this House, whether they agree with it or not, understand that abortion is legal in Canada and this government, myself included, have made it very clear that the government does not intend to change the law in this regard.”
In his press release, Vellacott says the MPs “obviously would not have asked the RCMP to investigate something that is no longer a Criminal Code offence, such as killing a preborn child (i.e., fetus) through abortion.”
“Our request has to do with enforcement of existing Canadian law — a viable baby BORN ALIVE, who then subsequently dies due to injuries caused prior to or during birth,” he explained. “If that is what happened in these 491 cases, then that breaks Canadian law.”
The MP noted that the Criminal Code, in Section 223(2), “makes it a crime to cause injury to a child before or during birth as a result of which the child dies AFTER being BORN ALIVE.”
Canadian Press Prairies Bureau Chief Heather Boyd responded to a reader's complaint Thursday insisting they have "no hidden agenda whatsoever on this issue, but are simply reporting the facts and quoting the newsmakers.”
“I can assure you that our reporter and his editors all read the letter very carefully,” she said.
But in an e-mail to LifeSiteNews Friday afternoon, Boyd admitted the original story was "confusing" and said they issued a correction to their clients. "It's true that our early stories yesterday were confusing, but by the end of the day we believe all the facts were correct," she said.
She also sent LifeSiteNews the text of the correction they sent out to their clients.
"Initial versions of a Jan. 31 Canadian Press story on a call for the RCMP to investigate live-birth abortions said the members of Parliament making the request wanted any abortions after 19 weeks investigated as possible homicides," it stated. "In fact, MPs Maurice Vellacott , Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon signed a letter calling on police to investigate 491 abortions, of 20 weeks gestation and greater, that resulted in live births, not any abortions done after 19 weeks."
The Canadian Press
CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin
Phone: (416) 205-2978