Written in the aftermath of the dismissal of Motion 312, here is the original reflection before the edits of the Manitoban:
… there is no law in Canada on abortion. Meaning women can kill their babies up until before they go into labour, even during labour. The mind-set reflected in this situation is exemplified as seen in a case in Alberta where a woman had committed infanticide and was able to escape without jail time for that crime on the grounds that “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”. A judge, with no laws to use for guidance, decided that Canadians, in accepting abortion, would accept a mother killing her child. Her born child.
There needs to be a line. Most 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 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. Months, hours, or moments from crying out for the first time, but not human.
That is what Motion 312 was all about.
The Motion called for a revaluation 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 were 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)?”
Had this motion passed, it would have presented a ground-breaking situation. 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, it is as worthy, under any criteria, of being considered alive as the newborn that a woman will give her life to protect. If it was passed, the legality of abortion would have been affected in the same way that it was by the original content of that section. If the preborn is considered a human being, by the law, while not yet born, he/she benefits from all the same protection from being destroyed as you or I do. That makes abortion murder in the eyes of the law.
Therein would have lain the most critical fact of this motion. It would have threatened to banish the one idea, that one mental shield, that allows abortion to be palatable to anyone who wants to consider themselves a sympathetic human being; that they are simply excising a mass of foreign tissue, not horribly mutilating and killing a baby just months from birth. If the motion had passed, it wouldn’t have mattered whether we finally obtained laws regarding abortion. Every woman, and every jury, could have been told plainly that they are not deciding whether a woman has the right to do what she wishes with her body, they are deciding whether it is permissible for one person to kill another who cannot, and has never been able to, raise their voice in their own defence.
For now, they remain silent. Maybe, in the future, the law can speak for them.