Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 3, 2007
Tory MP tables bill to protect unborn victims of crime
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Conservative MP Ken Epp has tabled a private member's bill to protect unborn victims of crime.
"I'm challenging people who say they are pro-choice to stand up and vote for this bill," Epp, who represents Edmonton-Sherwood Park riding, said in an interview.
"If they are pro-choice as they say, they will have to stand up for legal support for a woman who chooses to keep her baby."
Epp is counting on a growing concern among Canadians about the protection of the unborn.
A recent Environics poll commissioned by Life Canada shows that 72 per cent of Canadians would support legislation making it a crime to injure or kill a fetus in the course of an attack on the mother. The percentage is even higher among women at 75 per cent.
There have been five instances in recent years of pregnant women whose unborn children have also been killed. Some experts have argued that domestic violence can rise when a woman is pregnant.
Epp's bill represents the second attempt by a Tory MP to craft a private member's bill to make it a criminal offence to harm or kill a fetus while committing a crime against the mother.
Leon Benoit's bill tabled in May 2006 never came to a vote, however, because a House subcommittee dealing with private members' business deemed it unconstitutional.
Epp said his bill has addressed all the problems the committee found in Benoit's bill. He expects to hear before Christmas whether this same committee will allow his bill to be debated and voted upon.
One of the holes in Benoit's bill, Epp said, had to do with the intent of the act. "The other thing was that some of the detractors of the bill tried to characterize it as a bill to bring back criminalization of abortion, which it wasn't."
"My bill has nothing to do with that," he said. "My bill explicitly excludes that."
His Bill C-484 will provide for a second offence if an unborn child is killed or injured during an attack. "This bill is totally focused on the choice the woman has made (to keep the pregnancy)."
Keep to the topic
He said he hopes his colleagues will debate what the bill actually says, and "not the distortions of the detractors."
"Having heard the heart-rending stories of the families of the victims, I am absolutely convinced that this is an issue which cannot be swept aside," Epp said in a Nov. 21 news release. "How do you tell these grieving victims that the child they loved and lost never even existed in the eyes of the law?"
The Catholic Civil Rights League issued a statement Nov. 23 welcoming Epp's bill.
"While such bills do not often make it into law, having the need for such legislation read in to the parliamentary record is one step toward restoring needed protection both for the unborn child, and the dignity of women," said league executive director Joanne McGarry.