The Kitchener Center MP introduced his motion in early February and in the first week of March the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs’ subcommittee on private members’ business deemed M-312 votable. One hour of debate is scheduled for April 26, with another hour to follow in late Spring or early Fall. Woodworth explained to LifeSiteNews that the clerk’s office could reschedule the time.
Woodworth is calling for a re-examination of section 223 of the Criminal Code, which states that a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb. Woodworth points out that as long as “one little toe” remains in the mother, the child is without legal protection in Canada because it is not considered a legal person.
He said in a press release, “It seems reasonable to suggest a study of modern medical evidence about our 400-year-old definition of human being.” He added: “We should never accept any law that says that some human beings are not human.” Thus, his press release expressed his hope that his “fellow Members of Parliament will support Motion 312.”
If passed, the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs would establish a select committee of seven Conservatives, four NDP, and one Liberal to examine modern scientific and medical evidence regarding whether a child in the womb is a human being and what implications those findings would have as pertaining to human rights.
While not all motions are binding on government, CBC online reporter Kady O’Malley observed that “as far as I can tell – and yes, I’ve asked the Speaker’s office for a definitive answer – unlike the vast majority of private members’ proposals put forward … this one would actually be binding.” That is because the motion directs the House of Commons “to do something that is entirely within its aegis; namely, to strike a special committee with a clear mandate, and a requirement to report back to the House within a certain amount of time.”
While the motion is binding, O’Malley predicts the motion will not pass. Both the Prime Minister’s Office and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson have indicated their opposition to M-312 by reiterating Stephen Harper’s well-worn formulation that the government has “no intention of re-opening” any discussion of abortion, but they have both stopped short of saying they would whip the Conservative caucus to defeat Woodworth’s motion.
Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes said he is worried that the government could try to prevent the vote from taking place using procedural tricks or whip the caucus or cabinet to ensure its defeat.
“They should not be afraid of a debate,” Hughes told The Interim. “It is long overdue that we talk about the humanity of the child in the womb and need for legal protection of all human beings from the time of conception to natural death.”