By John-Henry Westen
OTTAWA, August 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In news which came as a shock within and without the Conservative Party of Canada this afternoon, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has announced that the Conservative Government will introduce legislation to bolster penalties for those who assault pregnant women. The legislation will in effect kill the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, a private members bill with wide public and legislative support that would have recognized in law the separate life of unborn children – at least those who are ‘wanted’ or intended by the mother for birth.
Conservative MP Ken Epp’s private member’s bill would ensure that a criminal would receive separate punishment for killing an unborn child in a violent attack on a pregnant mother. Even though the bill explicitly excluded consensual abortion and acts or omissions by the pregnant woman, the Conservative Government fell prey to the arguments of abortion activists who saw any fetal rights, even of ‘wanted’ children, as an assault on abortion.
According to Nicholson, the upcoming Conservative bill would add the fact of a woman’s pregnancy to the list of ‘aggravating factors’ which must be considered when sentencing criminals. The proposal is in fact nearly identical to a Liberal private member’s bill which was proposed in May by pro-abortion Liberal MP Brent St. Denis.
In his announcement of the measure, Nicholson noted that the Conservatives accepted the arguments of abortion activists. “We’ve heard criticisms from across the country, including representative from the medical community, that Mr. Epp’s bill as presently drafted could be interpreted as instilling fetal rights,” he said.
“Let me be clear, our government will not reopen the debate on abortion,” added Nicholson who in the past was recognized as one of the more heroic and reliably pro-life Conservative MPs. “For this reason, and in the context of the government’s tackling crime agenda, I’m announcing that the government will introduce legislation that will punish criminals who commit violence against pregnant women but do so in a way that leaves no room for the introduction of fetal rights.”
This is the second time this year that Nicholson has betrayed and shocked Canada’s social conservatives. In May he presented the Conservative government Justice Department’s 50-page defense of the notorious subsection 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act that has permitted major assaults on freedom of expression and freedom of religion by the Human Rights commission kangaroo courts.
When asked if Epp was even told of the new legislation, Nicholson indicated Epp was not informed, or consulted on the matter, saying only that he would find out with everyone else.
While Ken Epp did not immediately respond to the announcement, his remarks on the Liberal private member’s bill proposed in May would apply equally to the Conservative proposal.
“I am very disappointed he has fallen victim to the scare tactics of special interests groups who refuse to stand by pregnant women who want their unborn babies protected in law,” said Ken Epp responding to St. Denis’ proposal. “Why have increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women if the baby doesn’t matter?” Mr. Epp asked. “Either the unborn child matters so that attacks on pregnant women are more heinous, in which case Bill C-484 is a direct recognition of that reality; or the child doesn’t matter, in which case we don’t need any new law – the current provisions in the Criminal Code cover the violence to the woman.”
Epp’s further comments on St. Denis’ bill suggested it was little more than political posturing. A criticism that, it seems, would apply equally to the Conservative Government proposal. “Besides, my legal advisors and the Justice Department have assured me that pregnancy is already deemed an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes, as part of our case law,” Mr. Epp said. “And I have also been assured that C-484 will not change that. But if all we do is increase the penalty for attacking a pregnant woman without creating a separate offence for harming or killing her child, then we reinforce the offensive notion that the child’s fate is irrelevant. But the child’s death is very relevant to the mother (and other family members) who want her baby to live. As Mary Talbot, mother of Olivia Talbot and grandmother of Lane Jr. told the media, ‘It’s two people who died that day…I certainly put two people in a coffin.’”
Mr. Epp concluded, “What right does anyone have to deny a pregnant woman the right to have the child she has chosen to bring to term protected in law? I can’t imagine any pregnant woman feeling that justice has been served if the person who brutally and intentionally killed the baby in her womb simply gets a stiffer sentence for assaulting her. What he did was wrong, not because she was pregnant, but because he killed her baby! The “alternative” Mr. St. Denis is proposing does not recognize her baby’s death. It does not address the horrible loss and grieving that mother feels. It’s not good enough for a caring society like Canada. Victims’ families and Canadians in general are crying out for justice! Let us not delay in doing the right thing and pass C-484 into law.”