By Hilary White

OTTAWA, August 21, 2008 ( – The Canadian Medical Association has lashed out at the proposed Unborn Victims of Crime act that they claim will limit women’s “access to abortion”, voting by a wide margin yesterday to oppose Bill C-484.

Ken Epp, MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park who introduced the bill, responded to opponents saying that the misrepresentation of his proposed law as a back-door route to criminalizing abortion is “deeply worrying”.

Dr. Robert Ouellet, the new president of the CMA told the Toronto Star, “It’s not about abortion, being for or against abortion. It’s being against making doctors criminals.”

The CMA’s official statement, however, specifically says the vote was indeed “about abortion”. The statement said the group is concerned “at the prospect of criminalizing a medical actâEUR¦The Bill C-484, in its current form, constitutes a significant step towards subjecting those who perform abortions to criminal sanctions.”

Noting that in 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the existing abortion law, section 251 of the Criminal Code, the CMA’s official policy on abortion is that “there is no need for this section to be replaced.” The policy goes on to state, “Induced abortion should be uniformly available to all women in Canada.”

Pro-abortion activists and media have been vocal in their condemnation of C-484, claiming that it is an attack on “abortion rights” that would result in the law identifying an unborn child as a person with rights. This week, another statement condemning the bill was released by abortion activists.

Responding to the criticisms from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Epp said that opponents of the bill “are robbing women of the added protection, in criminal law, of bringing their children safely into the world.”

“They are denying justice to the woman who has been victimized by a brutal crime, one which has violently taken her yet-to-be-born but very much wanted child from her womb?”

In fact, opposition to such a bill that is intended to protect women and their rights, said Mr. Epp, risks discrediting the “pro-choice” movement. He quotes Carolyn B. Ramsey, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Colorado School of Law, who wrote in 2006: “An absolutist reactionâEUR¦risks corroborating, in the public mind, the allegation that pro-choicers espouse an extreme, anti-life position. Moreover, this approach impedes holding wrongdoers, such as abusive spouses, accountable for their actions.”

C-484 contains language that specifically addresses the issue of legal abortion. It criminalizes only third-party behaviour committed against the mother’s will and states, “For greater certainty, this section does not apply in respect ofâEUR¦.(c) any act or omission by the mother of the child.”

Epp has told the House of Commons that C-484 is a response to “impassioned pleas” from families of victims. Canadian courts have denied the existence of a child before birth, ruling in one case that an unborn child is merely a part of a woman’s body and that no crime has occurred even when a violent attacker specifically targets the child in the womb.

Mr. Epp said, “What message are we sending to would-be abusers when our justice system turns a blind eye to the intentional killing of a woman’s unborn child against her will? We are only encouraging violence against pregnant women.”

Read related coverage:

Pro-Abortion Liberal Introduces Bill to Counter Unborn Victims of Crime Bill