“Dehumanizing baby Voth” is the perceptive title used by the Western Report for its article on the March 21, 1991, Supreme Court decision not to recognize “as a legal person” the Voth baby who died while still in the birth canal during the process of being born. (See The Interim, April 1991, page 3).

The Court’s actual words were: “A foetus is not a human being for the purpose of the Code.”

Toronto Right to Life News notes that when the Supreme Court gave its reasons for judgment in the case of Guy Tremblay v. Chantal Daigle, it stated that:

The task of properly classifying a foetus in law and in science are different pursuits: and that recognizing the pre-born child as a human being in law is a normative task…more appropriately left to the legislature.  There was no mention of this suggestion in the latest ruling.


The reaction of supporters for a woman’s right to kill her unborn baby was summed up by Jane Holmes, executive coordinator of Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL): “We’re happy the Supreme Court has once more defined the demarcation line of birth as the beginning of personhood.”

Pro-life comments

“Something is seriously wrong when a child whose head is out of the birth canal is not considered to be a person.”

Gwen Landolt, Vice-president of REAL Women.

“[It is] a historic decision because they’ve said a child is not a person.  You’ve really got to reach this stage of horror before the public will revolt.”

Angela Costigan, Solicitor for REAL Women, an intervenor in the court case.

“The Supreme Court is guilty once again of copping out by refusing to recognize the humanity of the pre-born child.”

Margaret Purcell, Vice-president of Campaign Life Coalition Canada.

“The decision was made by lawyers, who had to have their eyes closed and their ears covered, flying in the face of medical knowledge.”

Dr. Paul Ranalli, Canadian Physicians for Life.

“The failure of Canadian Law to recognize unborn babies as persons harkens back to the dark ages before 1929 when the highest courts in the land held that women were not persons”

Press Release, Alliance for Life.

“The House of Commons must pass a law which explicitly recognizes that, in science, pre-born children are human beings.”

June Scandifflo, President, Toronto Right to Life.

“I now see our pro-abortion legal system as racist towards unborn life.  The despicable decision in ignoring justice and scientific reality can only bring ill to our nation.”

Michael Arsenault, Lifesavers Moncton, New Brunswick (Times Transcript, March 22, 1991).

Pro-abortion media silent

Unlike past Supreme Court rulings concerning the life and death of the unborn, the editorial reaction to this one was one of universal silence right across the country.  To our knowledge, only one paper, The Toronto Sun, editorialized on the subject and that one questioned the decision: “How can a fully formed human foetus…not be a human being?”