First Bill Restricting Abortion Tabled in Canada Under Conservative Government

By John-Henry Westen

Paul SteckleOTTAWA, June 21, 2006 ( - Liberal MP Paul Steckle stood today in the House of Commons to introduce the first piece of pro-life legislation in the current parliament under the Conservative Government. In introducing Bill C-338, ‘An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (procuring a miscarriage after 20 weeks of gestation),’ Steckle called on the House to debate the issue noting that Canada was one of the only countries in the world with absolutely no protection for the unborn in law whatsoever. The bill would restrict abortion after twenty weeks gestation; currently in Canada abortions are performed at tax-payer expense upÂtoÂbirth.

Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), the political arm of the pro-life movement in Canada, told “We applaud the initiative of Paul Steckle, Liberal MP of Huron-Bruce, in addressing the abortion issue with his Private Member’s Bill, tabled today.”

“Every poll on the abortion issue, taken in the last ten years, has indicated that a majority of Canadians favour some restrictions,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC National Organizer. “Too often, political parties have ignored the wishes of the people to discuss crucial issues and have feared even to address the abortion topic,” she stated.

Statistics show that a majority of Canadians are supportive of at least some legal protection for unborn children. The latest statistics on the matter, from October 2005, showed that 60 per cent of Canadians would like to see human life legally protected some time prior to birth (at conception or after 3 or 6 months of pregnancy). Those numbers have remained fairly consistent since 2002 when LifeCanada, the educational arm of the pro-life movement, began commissioning Environics Research to poll Canadians on the matter.

  The bill would make those who perform an abortion after twenty weeks gestation guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment of up to five years, or else jail for up to two years and/or a fine up to $100,000.

The bill provides for exceptions where abortion beyond 20 weeks would be permitted “to save the life of a woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself” and also to “prevent severe, pathological, physical morbidity of the woman.”

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