On February 13,1984, Mr. Donald Blenkarn, member of parliament for Mississauga South, introduced Bill 216, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Protection of Innocent Human Life), in the House of Commons.
Mr. Blenkarn explained to the House that the Bill “is intended to limit the right to have a therapeutic abortion to circumstances involving the actual physical health of the mother.” He stated that the intent of the 1969 Act was not to permit abortion as a form of birth control and that “over 70,000 infant Canadians were murdered last year through improper abortions.”
Bill C-216 received its first reading and was ordered to be printed. The proposed bill would delete from the Criminal Code the current provision that abortion is permitted where there is “danger to the health” of the mother. It would also require that the Therapeutic Abortion Committee (TAC) be required to give reasons in writing for its decision if an abortion is approved, rather than stating that “in its opinion the continuation of the pregnancy of such female would or would be likely to endanger her health or life.”
Paragraph 25 (4) (c) of the Criminal Code would be amended to read:
“(c) has by certificate in writing, signed by such members and setting forth its reasons, determined that the miscarriage is necessary to prevent the death of the female person, and”
Bill C-216 would also amend the composition of the TAC. At present, each TAC comprises not less than three members, each of whom is a qualified medical practitioner, appointed by the hospital’s board. The bill would require that at least one member of each TAC would be appointed by the Ministry of Health “for the purpose of representing the interests of unborn children.”
Finally, the Bill would impose criminal sanctions against any TAC member who acted beyond the authority conferred on him by the Criminal Code.
Mr. Blenkarn reports that he has received many petitions, telephone calls and letters of encouragement from people across the country who support his Bill. However, he has been told that the government will not support the Bill and it seems certain that Bill C-216 will be defeated on second reading.