In February, two Australian professors argued in the Journal of Medical Ethics that because “both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons,” “the fact that both are potential persons,” and that “adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people,” abortion should be permitted after birth.

Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth issued a press release denouncing Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva’s paper and observed that their advocacy of “the right to ‘after-birth abortion’ shows why Parliament should refuse to accept any law that says some human beings are not a person.” He said that principle, that all biological human beings should be accorded legal rights as a person, is the reason he brought forth M-312. The notion of after-birth abortions show, “why the study of the idea, as proposed in my motion, is urgently needed.”

CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas told The Interim that “the greatest fear we’ve always had is that there would be a push for the killing of babies after birth, too.” She pointed to a recent criminal case in which a mother had been given a lenient sentence after killing her newborn to illustrate that “once respect is lost for one part of life, respect is lost for all of life.”

Douglas said that the Medical Ethics argument, echoing philosopher Peter Singer’s support for abortion until a child becomes “aware of itself in the world,” demonstrates the need for a debate such as the one for which Woodworth is calling. She said, “it shows the absolute necessity of law and science to come together to recognize that human life is a continuum and that from the time of conception to natural death, all human life must be protected.”