OTTAWA, Ontario, June 25, 2012 ( – The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) said in a position statement released last month that they are “troubled” by a private members motion that seeks to determine when human life begins.

Motion 312, proposed by Conservative MP Steven Woodworth, seeks 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. If passed, Parliament would set up a special committee to consider the medical evidence relating to the humanity of the unborn child.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada represents over 3,800 health-care professionals including gynaecologists, obstetricians, family physicians, nurses, midwives, and other health professionals.

The SOGC says it is concerned that if the motion passed it “would challenge and change the fundamental principle of women’s autonomy.”

“Current law makes it clear that a woman and her foetus in utero are treated legally as one person, not two,” the SOGC observes, expressing concern that if the motion passes it would “suggest that a pregnant woman serves as a mere carrier for another person with full legal rights” and that her “interests, needs, or choices” would be considered second to those of the unborn child.


The SOGC also expressed concern that the motion might restrict “women’s reproductive and sexual rights and decision-making.”

They call the motion a “‘one-size-fits-all’ legislation” that doesn’t take into account all the different situations of individual women.

Woodworth has argued that his motion is simply a response to the advances of science in the past decades which prove beyond a doubt that the unborn child is human, thereby calling into question the validity of section 223 of the Criminal Code.

“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 while announcing his motion earlier this year. “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.”

Woodworth’s motion does not itself propose a change in Canada’s law, which permits abortion up to birth without legal restriction. Instead it proposes that committee members examine the medical evidence relating to the unborn child, and produce a report outlining the options available to Parliament “to affirm, amend, or replace Subsection 223(1).”