By John-Henry Westen

DARTMOUTH, February 15, 2008 ( – Alan Bryan, 43, of Nova Scotia, was sentenced to 15 years in jail Thursday for his brutal attack on his then-pregnant girlfriend Charlene Knapp.  Knapp, 28, was four months pregnant on July 31 when Bryan stabbed her up to 15 times with a sword. Knapp survived the attack, but the child in her womb was killed.

Despite his killing the unborn child, Bryan was never charged with murder, since a child in utero is not considered a human being in Canadian law. A bill before the legislature seeks to remedy that situation.  Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime act would make it a separate crime to kill an unborn child during an act of violence against the mother.  It is scheduled to be voted on in the Commons on March 5th.

Knapp, who was due to give birth this month, told Canwest News Service, “I just had to be here to see him go away, to know that he will never take anything else from me again.”

Knapp still suffers from the attack and walks with a cane.  “I lost my son (who) was my future,” she said.

Bryan pleaded guilty to attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon. 

“The case of Charlene Knapp, who was stabbed multiple times last summer, clearly demonstrates the need for a legislation like Bill C-484,” said Marie Christine Houle, Executive Director of Women for Women’s Health, an organization that has worked with families of victims of similar incidents to lobby for the legislation.

“Knapp was targeted BECAUSE she was pregnant.  She was stripped of her right to hold and care for her child” said Houle.  

“The Canadian government should acknowledge the tremendous loss that is the death of a desired unborn baby because of a violent and in this case vicious attack. We urge the Members of Parliaments to ponder what type of message they are sending about the importance of motherhood should they chose to vote against this bill on March 5th.”