OTTAWA, December 14, 2007 ( – The Unborn Victims of Crime Act (C-484) introduced on November 21 by Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park, Ken Epp, received its first hour of debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

“This bill is about giving a woman the freedom of choice to bring her child to term in safety,” Mr. Epp said. “In anticipating the birth of her baby, she has become emotionally attached to it, and has experienced the greatest violation of her right and freedom possible – the criminal assault and death or injury to her child that she loves and wants to protect.”

The bill is a response to impassioned pleas by grieving families who want Parliament to enact legislation to recognize unborn children as separate crime victims when they are harmed or killed during criminal attacks against their mothers.

According to the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System, women abused during pregnancy were four times as likely as other abused women to report having experienced very serious violence. Researchers have also found that the most common area of the body struck during pregnancy was the abdomen, suggesting that those who attack pregnant woman are purposely targeting the fetus.

“It is very disturbing that when a woman is at her most vulnerable, she is at increased risk of attack,” said Mr. Epp. “What message are we sending to would-be abusers when our justice system turns a blind eye to the intentional killing of a woman’s unborn child against her will? We are only encouraging violence against pregnant women. And by failing to recognize her child as a potential victim, we are effectively telling the woman, when she is at her most vulnerable, that it is her responsibility alone to defend her child’s life, that she will receive no help from the state. This injustice is compounded when the surviving family members are told that a child whose birth they anxiously awaited-a child they already loved-never even existed in the eyes of the law.”

Mr. Epp concluded, “This bill is about doing what is right and decent in a civilized and compassionate society. It is just, it is humane, and it is long overdue.”

Parliament has risen for the Christmas break and is only set to resume sitting at the end of January.  The bill will have a second and third hour of debate thereafter before its final vote in the Commons.

See related coverage:

Catholic Priest – Politician Opposes Unborn Victims Bill