Patrick Craine


Profs at 3 Canadian Universities: time to fix ‘moral inconsistency’ of denying personhood to unborn

Patrick Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, Sept. 20, 2012 ( – It’s time for Canada to fix the moral inconsistency of denying legal personhood to children in the womb, argued three professors on Wednesday.

In a letter to the National Post, Prof. Douglas Farrow of McGill University, Prof. Paul Allen of Concordia University, and Prof. John von Heyking of the University of Lethbridge write that Motion 312 gives Parliament an opportunity to do just that.

“Canadians have for too long countenanced an indefensible degree of separation between legal convenience and moral reality,” the professors wrote. “The significance of M-312 … is that it invites Parliament to make amends for that.”

Motion 312, proposed by Tory MP Stephen Woodworth, seeks a re-examination of section 223 of the Criminal Code, which states that a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb. If passed, Parliament would set up a special committee to consider the medical evidence relating to the humanity of the unborn.

The motion is set for a debate on Friday, followed by a vote at second reading on Sept. 26th.

“Though there is much debate philosophically over the essence of personhood, few doubt that the human fetus carries within itself the requisite attributes for personhood,” the professors wrote. “It has nevertheless been tempting not to count the pre-born among those with legal standing, just as it was once convenient not to count slaves or women. With much difficulty we faced our moral failure with respect to the latter and modified the law accordingly.”

“Is it not time we did so for the former also? Or do we so covet legal immunity from the killing of the preborn that we are prepared to sacrifice all moral consistency?” they conclude.

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