Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2008
Archbishop backs Unborn Victims of Crime bill
Archbishop Richard Smith
Special to the WCR
Bill C-484 makes an important recognition of a woman's right to give birth - a point being neglected in much of the current debate over the bill, says Archbishop Richard Smith.
Smith has welcomed the introduction of the bill, which would amend the Criminal Code to make it a specific offence to harm or kill an unborn child during an attack on its mother.
The Unborn Victims of Crime Act, sponsored by Conservative MP Ken Epp of Edmonton-Sherwood Park, has passed second reading in the House of Commons and is now before a parliamentary committee.
Opponents denounce the bill as an infringement of women's rights and warn that giving an unborn child any legal status at all could eventually lead to restrictions on abortions.
Smith maintains the proposed law would actually support a woman's decision to give birth and recognize the family's great loss when that choice is violently taken away.
"The fact is, most pregnant women in Canada do want to give birth and do welcome their newborns with great joy," he says. "It's important that our culture and our society honour that fact, and this change to the law is one small way to do that."
At a weekend march in support of life, Smith called for a renewed appreciation in the wider culture of "the conviction that human life is beautiful, that human life has inherent dignity, that human life is always to be welcomed and celebrated, and that human life, at every stage, deserves real protection."
If adopted, Bill C-484 would not mark the first time legal recognition would be given to the unborn in Canadian law.
In 2005 Alberta became the first province to enact a law that allows children to sue for injuries suffered in the womb as a result of auto accidents.