By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 27, 2010 ( –”Roxanne’s Law,” the Canadian private members bill that seeks to criminalize the coercion of pregnant women into obtaining abortions, is slated for its first hour of debate this Monday, November 1st.

The bill, proposed by Conservative Member of Parliament Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South), is inspired by the case of Roxanne Fernando, a Manitoba woman whose boyfriend attempted to coerce her to have an abortion after she became pregnant in 2007. After refusing to have the unborn child killed, Roxanne was beaten and left to die in a snow bank.

“Roxanne Fernando is someone I view as a real hero in this country,” Bruinooge, who serves as chair of the parliamentary pro-life caucus, told LifeSiteNews on Tuesday. “Choosing to not end her pregnancy is the very thing that led to her untimely death, and as she was dying in the snow bank, I’m sure she cried out and there was no one there to hear her.”

“Next week in the House of Commons, her voice will be heard,” he added.

Bruinooge introduced the legislation, also known as Bill C-510, in April and it was declared votable on October 19th. It immediately gained wide support last spring among religious and pro-life organizations, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Canadian Bishops’ Catholic Organization for Life and Family, and Priests for Life, among numerous others.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, denounced Bruinooge’s effort as an attempt to reopen the debate on abortion. “I generally don’t comment on private member’s legislation,” he said in May. “But I have been clear: I will oppose any attempt to create a new abortion law.”

A senior government official at the time told the National Post that Harper will vote against the bill and it will be “very strongly recommended” that Conservative MPs do likewise.

Proponents of abortion have charged that the bill is unnecessary because acts such as harassment or intimidation are already covered under the Criminal Code. But Bruinooge pointed out that not a single case involving coercive abortion has been prosecuted in Canada, even though it is clear that such situations occur.

Just last week in Texas, a 16-year-old pregnant girl obtained a restraining order against her parents, who were trying to force her into aborting her child. The girl’s mother had dragged her to local abortion facilities but the daughter refused.

Bruinooge said his bill will “clarify the law.” “I believe it would have made a difference to Roxanne and I think it empowers all women,” he said.

He expects that the bill will get its second hour of debate in early December, which will be followed by a vote.

See related coverage:

Canadian PM Harper Opposes Law Protecting Women from Coercive Abortions

Canadian Pro-Abort Group Calls for Criminalizing of Pro-Life Activism

Canada’s Evangelicals Back Bill Outlawing Coercive Abortion

Harper Spokesman Won’t Say if PM Will Allow Free Vote on Coercive Abortion Bill

Bill to Ban Coerced Abortion Introduced into Canadian Parliament