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OTTAWA, February 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A rookie MP from Saskatchewan has tabled a private members bill in Parliament protecting pre-born babies from assaults on their mothers.

Cathay Wagantall, the Conservative member for Yorkton-Melville, calls her bill Cassie and Molly's Law, after Cassandra Kaake, a Windsor woman murdered in 2014, and Molly, her unborn daughter, who died in the womb.

“This fills a substantial gap in the Criminal Code,” Wagantall told LifeSiteNews. “It protects a woman's right to choose to have her baby” and therefore, she believes, ought to be supported by pro-life and pro-abortion people.

Indeed, prominent among supporters on hand for the first reading of the bill was Jeff Durham, Molly's father, who insists he is staunchly “pro-choice.”

Naming the bill after both mother and child is part of Wagantall's strategy to counter objections from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada to a previous version introduced by Alberta MP Ken Epp in 2008. It passed second reading but got no farther due to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's adamant commitment to keeping the lid on the abortion issue.

Abortion activists' three main claims were that Epp's bill, C-484, protected the unborn child but not the mother, that such measures in the U.S. were used to imprison pregnant women with addictions harmful to their unborn babies, and that the bill was the first step toward re-criminalization of abortion by treating the unborn baby as a legal person.

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Wagantall said her bill intentionally avoids treating the baby as a person and does not attach an independent offense to injuring or killing the baby. Since there must be a crime first against the mother, the added offense of injuring the child actually increases the penalty for the attack on the mother, providing more deterrence and protection.

As for re-criminalization, Wagantall makes clear, “This is a stand-alone bill, not an effort to reopen the abortion debate. It should be supported by those who want choice for women; it protects women who have chosen to have their babies.”

Wagantall believes that many attacks on pregnant women come from boyfriends who do not want the child to be born and are intended either to persuade the woman to abort or to actually terminate the pregnancy.

In a stinging rebuttal of the pro-abortion arguments, Durham, victim Molly's father, blogged, “I am arguing that women deserve and need to be protected from acts of violence – and deserve to have their choice – THEIR BABIES – protected too.” Durham added that he has no control of what pro-life groups did with the issue, as he has no control “over the fear propaganda that you spread” with the argument that such a law “would somehow subtract a woman's rights.”

Asked what chance her bill has of passing, Wagantall said, “I want to get this bill passed, and I'll do everything on my part I can to do it.” She hopes that the Liberal government will let caucus members vote according to their consciences, because several Liberal MPs have indicated “they want to vote for it. The next step is finding the courage to do it.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ruled out freedom of conscience on abortion, which he supports, during the election, when he effectively banned pro-life candidates for his party.

The bill won the quick approval of Campaign Life Coalition, because “it calls for the punishment of someone who takes the life of a pre-born child during the commission of a crime,” CLC President Jim Hughes told LifeSiteNews. “We do so because it recognizes that the pre-born child has intrinsic value to its parents, as well as to society, such that those who injure or kill the pre-born child during the commission of an offense will be held to account and punished for the damage they have done to the pre-born child.” Hughes said his group “looks forward to passage at second reading and further study at Committee.”