OTTAWA, Ontario, January 3, 2012 ( – Canada’s Evangelical leaders are backing recent calls by Members of Parliament for a debate on the legal status of children in the womb.

In a statement Tuesday, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) said the current Criminal Code provisions, which allow children to be terminated up until the moment they have fully exited their mother’s birth canal, are “convoluted” and “dumbfounding.”

They supported the effort of Tory MPs Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre) and Jeff Watson (Essex) to have Parliament re-examine Canada’s legal definition of the beginning of human life.

“The question is not so much ‘What is human?’ but ‘When is human?’” said Faye Sonier, Legal Counsel for the EFC.


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“Medicine recognizes a point of viability for a child in the womb. Science is prepared to experiment using pre-natal human tissue from conception onward. Yet, Canada’s Criminal Code states that a child in the womb is not human,” explained Sonier. “The Criminal Code provisions on this point are dumbfounding.”

“Parliament needs to examine these provisions; consider their historical roots; and, debate whether they make sense in twenty-first century Canada,” urged Sonier.  “As Canadians become more aware of what the laws stipulate, they will be astounded.”

In a December 21st press release, Woodworth had explained that section 223(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code “defines a human being as a child who has completely proceeded in a living state from the mother’s body, whether or not the child has breathed.”

“This means that in Canada a child is legally considered to be sub-human while his or her little toe remains in the birth canal, even if he or she is breathing,” he said.

The EFC noted that section 223(2) is equally troubling.  That section states that if a child dies after birth due to injuries sustained while in the womb, the child’s death will be deemed a homicide.  But if that child had died while still in the womb, no charges would apply.

Don Hutchinson, EFC Vice-President and General Legal Counsel, explained the disturbing ramifications of section 223 in an Ottawa case where a mother had shot her nearly full-term son in the womb with a pellet gun.

“The boy, born two days later, survived after surgery and some time in an intensive care unit,” said Hutchinson.  “The charges were later dropped because the child was not considered by law to be a human being when he was shot.”

“In an interesting twist, she received several months’ probation for failing to provide the necessities of life because after birth she didn’t report the pellet lodged in her son’s head,” he continued.

“According to section 223, the mother would not even have been charged had her son died before he was born,” continues Hutchinson. “However, had the child died from his injuries after he was born, she would have been charged with homicide. Do these provisions make any sense? Is that consistent with our contemporary understanding of life and human rights?”

“The wording of these laws is very confusing,” states Sonier. “The meaning is from a distant and less medically advanced society. The language of a now ancient time is far from obvious in the current century. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves if these convoluted laws and archaic concepts reflect our values, modern medicine and our understanding of human rights and human life. If they don’t, our political representatives need to take action.”

Contact your Member of Parliament.


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