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OTTAWA, October 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s Liberal government defeated a private member’s bill that would have made it a separate crime to assault a pregnant woman causing the death of her unborn child.

Bill C-225, known as Cassie and Molly’s Law, was defeated by a 209-76 vote margin. The bill was named after Cassandra Kaake and her unborn daughter Molly, both slain in a horrendous assault two years ago. Sponsored by Saskatchewan Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall, it would have made it a crime to kill an unborn child while assaulting the mother, punishable by 10 years minimum and a maximum of life imprisonment.

Speaking last during debates the day before the vote, Wagantall noted the support of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, petitions signed by 26,100, polling indicating 69 percent support of Canadians and 75 percent of Canadian women. She cited the Liberal government’s own pious preaching against gender-based crimes. “In Canada,” she said, “there is no component in the Criminal Code to protect pregnant women from violence. This gap is leaving women vulnerable. Cassie and Molly's law would address this specific issue to protect pregnant women and their future families.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative MP for Sherwood Park, led off, stressing that the bill would only add the offence when a charge had already been laid for an assault on the mother. This was to dispel the contention of abortion advocates that the bill was a ruse for recriminalization of abortion.

But “because this only applies in the case where there is an offence against the mother,” said Genuis, “there is no possible way in which this bill could be twisted, or honestly there is no way in which it could be reasonably inferred to in any way inform a kind of legal change on an issue like abortion.”

Genuis claimed that the death of a child in the womb resulting from an assault had “an extra impact” on the mother and that “two beings were involved.”

But it was no surprise that the government was unmoved by Genuis’s appeal for a common front against violence against women, as Kevin Lamoureux, parliamentary secretary to the government house leader, quickly indicated.

Lamoureux expressed vague concerns for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but never explained how the bill would impact it. He stressed that existing law made Cassie and Molly’s Law redundant. Criminal Code sections 223 and 228 provided life imprisonment for “the causing of the death of a child who has not become a human being in an active birth under certain circumstances.”

What is more, he urged, judges consider the pregnancy of an assaulted woman as an “aggravating factor for sentencing proposed and punished severely.”

Lamoureux went on to chide the Conservatives for their tendency “to get tough on” various crimes when what was really needed was an effort to get tough “on the causes of crime.” But the Winnipeg MP made no attempt at identifying these causes, though he was sure that “social workers” and “teachers” and other government employees should be in the forefront of addressing those causes, were they ever identified.

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Lethbridge MP Conservative Rachael Harder tried to frame the issue in terms feminists could appreciate, stressing that the proposed bill would protect women like Cassie Kaake, who had “made the choice of being a mother. That right was taken from her.” Moreover, “a study on the deaths of pregnant women determined that a pregnant or recently pregnant woman was more likely to be a victim of homicide than a woman who was not. This is a very scary statistic for families.”  

MP Harder drew the assignment of describing the crime itself that triggered Cassie and Molly’s Law. “The man responsible was charged on several accounts, including first degree murder, break and enter, indecent interference with a dead body, arson causing property damage, possession of incendiary material for arson, and arson with disregard for human life. His crimes are absolutely disgraceful and no person should ever have to hear of their loved one facing this type of reality,” she told the House of Commons. The man was convicted this year of first-degree murder.

Fellow Tory MP Harold Albrecht emphasized the vulnerability of pregnant women, relating that “over 63,000 pregnant Canadian women were victims of spousal violence between 2004 and 2009. Since 2000, 24 pregnant women have been murdered.”

After the defeat, Mike Schouten of We Need A Law cautioned supporters of Bill C-225 against despair. “You have reason to be disheartened. Don’t be. In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’”

Schouten added, “Canadians from all backgrounds came alongside the family of Cassie and Molly in their pursuit for justice; Cassie and Molly’s Law, has become a household name across the country; people who were never involved before vigorously engaged in the political process.” Politicians were forced to “grapple with the concept of protections for our pre-born neighbours; the media published dozens of articles and opinion columns, and more.”