Canada’s law on abortion was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988. It has not been replaced with anything. This means that abortions can be obtained up at any point up to the time when a baby is born. The mind-set reflected in this situation is exemplified by a case in Alberta where a woman had committed infanticide and was able to escape without jail time.
“while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept, and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support,” said the judge overseeing that case.The judge had no laws to use for guidance, and decided that Canadians, in accepting abortion, would accept a mother killing her child.
There needs to be a line. Many people think that abortion in Canada is illegal during the third trimester, but it’s not. It’s still legal, due only to vagaries of our political system, not any convincing arguments. These children are no longer just “a clump of tissue,” they are in many cases viable outside of the womb. If animals can have protection in the womb, why are humans denied that right? Because we have a law that says they aren’t human yet.
Evaluating when human life begins is what Motion 312 was all about.
The Motion called for a re-evaluation of Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. This Subsection states that a baby is not considered a full person until they are fully born, regardless of whether they could survive on their own. While this does not directly influence the legality of the abortion procedure itself, it does foil any attempts to call that legality into question through existing laws concerning murder.
Motion 312 proposed that this section of the Criminal Code be re-examined by a committee composed of members of the Ruling and Opposition parties in light of medical evidence to come to a conclusion regarding its validity. The points the committee was to address were the following:
“(i) what medical evidence exists to demonstrate that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth?,
(ii) is the preponderance of medical evidence consistent with the declaration in Subsection 223(1) that a child is only a human being at the moment of complete birth?,
(iii) what are the legal impact and consequences of Subsection 223(1) on the fundamental human rights of a child before the moment of complete birth?,
(iv) what are the options available to Parliament in the exercise of its legislative authority in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm, amend, or replace Subsection 223(1)?”
The committee was not being asked to consider legal precedent in their decision, merely the medical facts. Once a child is capable of independent life, I believe it is as worthy, under any criteria, of being considered alive as a newborn. If the preborn child is considered a human being, by the law, while not yet born, he or she could benefit from all the same protection from being destroyed as you or I do. I think that could inspire many Canadians to demand laws protecting unborn children.
Therein would have lain the most critical fact of this motion. I think that it would have threatened to banish the one idea, the one mental shield that allows abortion to be palatable to many people. The idea that they are simply excising a mass of foreign tissue, rather than ending a life just months, days, or seconds from birth. The way I see it, this would cause many of us to be challenged to answer the question of whether it is permissible for one person to end the life of another who cannot raise their voice in their own defense.