In May, the House debated the private member’s motion (M-392) of Garry Breitkreuz (CA, Yorkton-Melville), which sought to have the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights review the current definition of human being to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with the hope of including the unborn child under Criminal Code protections.
Predictably, abortion supporters from the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois criticized the bill, claiming it would erode “abortion rights.”
Equally predictable, was the debate in which the abortion advocates trotted out the usual cliches, illogic and lies.
We take the opportunity to excerpt portions of the debate with our comments and questions.
Following Breitkreuz’s introduction in which he noted that the failure to include the unborn child in the Criminal Code – a person does not receive the full protection of criminal law until he is outside his mother and the umbilical cord is cut – is not just a glaring omission, but a grave injustice, the pro- abortion side chastised him for even bringing the issue to the floor of the House of Commons.
First up was Paul Harold Macklin, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. He said: The views of Canadians diverge significantly on the rights of the fetus. The very question raises a whole host of issues with moral, social, economic, health and legal implications. Achieving consensus on an issue that touches on so many fundamental values in Canadian society is an extremely difficult task.
No doubt “achieving consensus” on such an issue – any issue – is not going to be easy. But does the passing of a law, require unanimity? Has the government ever passed laws that were opposed by some Canadians?
Macklin continued: (Breitkreuz) raises the issue of whether the current definition of a human being is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada ratified, does not address the issue of when a child’s life begins. It was not an oversight but rather recognition of the fact that each country must determine the issue for itself based on a balancing of a number of fundamental values.
It doesn’t make sense to define the rights of the child without reference to when childhood begins. That said, no nation need wait for the UN or anyone else to say when “a child’s life begins,” because science has answered that question conclusively: when a human sperm fertilizes a human egg. Most important, however, is Macklin’s assertion that “each country must determine the issue for itself based on a balancing of a number of fundamental values.” What fundamental value over-rides the truth of science? And the value of human life?
Macklin said he could not support the motion, in part, because: the Supreme Court of Canada commented on the rights of the fetus in two key decisions: the Dobson decision and the Winnipeg Child and Family Services decision. In the latter decision, the Supreme Court questioned whether a pregnant woman could be confined and treated against her will in order to protect the fetus. … The court also held that any attempt to address the rights of the fetus must be balanced with the rights of the pregnant woman. We have reached a delicate balance in Canada. The definition of a human being in the Criminal Code states that: “A child becomes a human being with the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother…”
First of all, an amendment to the Criminal Code would force a re-examination of the case law (perhaps), not invalidate it. Elected officials are all too eager to surrender their legislative authority to the judiciary to avoid this issue.
More worrisome, however, is Macklin’s claim that “We have reached a delicate balance in Canada.” That balance has left pregnant women with the right to have an abortion at any time, for any reason, at taxpayers’ expense; the child on the other hand has no rights until he is born. That is hardly a “delicate balance.” Even if the child’s rights were “balanced” with those of the mother, what right could conceivably be weighed against the right to life, which must trump all other rights?
Macklin concluded: Motion No. 392 clearly touches upon some of the most fundamental moral, social, economic, health and legal questions. These questions often come down to our own fundamental and personal values. It is the responsibility of the government to examine these fundamental questions and strive to achieve some balance between the competing views.
How is there balance between the permission to kill and not kill? How can the decision to kill a human being be reduced to “our own … personal values?” As much as politicians may want to talk about balance, by which they mean compromise, there is none. Show me the compromise between allowing a child to live and killing it. There is none.
After Macklin’s criticism of Breitkreuz’s bill, somehow, the speakers became even more illogical although probably no more offensive. BQ MP Diane Bourgeois (Terrebonne-Blainville) said: This is the second time I rise to address a motion which seeks to recognize the fetus as a human being. … Today, the same member is bringing up once again a debate that I had thought had been settled some time ago.
An initial reaction might be, why are such comments coming from a separatist Considering how they have supported the neverendums to break up Canada? More importantly, however, is the idea that an issue is closed and should never be debated. In a democracy, issues can be revisited. In fact, the status quo is ever-changing. More about this anon.
Bourgeois continued: It is interesting to note that the United Nations convention gives as a definition, in its first article, “a child means every human being below the age of 18 years.”
Why does the UN get to choose the ceiling but not the floor? But, perhaps it does, because as a matter of logic, the unborn are less than 18 years old. (At least until Parliament attempts to alter basic math. An American wit once said Congress would change the law of gravity if it thought it could get away with it. Then again, some politicians want to declare the unborn child not a person.)
Then Bourgeois attempted to give a civics lesson: In 1989, the Senate of Canada rejected a bill passed by the House of Commons that would have recriminalized abortion. In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to recognize the fetus as a person with legal rights and affirmed that it was up to an elected body to make such a decision. For the third time, the Supreme Court established that a fetus has no legal status before birth.
So much erroneous history in one paragraph, it almost impossible to counter briefly. If the courts have spoken and they said an elected body should decide, then the debate should be allowed to proceed. In fact, that is what the courts have said. Indeed, in the Morgentaler decision in 1989, the Supreme Court threw out the abortion law on very limited and technical grounds, which did not include a view that the unborn were without rights. The Mulroney government’s proposed abortion legislation was an attempt, albeit a deeply flawed one, to answer the Court’s call to address the issue. Since that bill failed when it was defeated by a tie vote in the Senate, no government has even tried to deal with the issue again.
Bourgeois said: “My party will also always be vigilant to ensure that such motions, which are contrary to the freedom of choice women obtained only after much struggle, are not passed through male-dominated parliaments which claim to want to see the population comply with the laws they themselves put in place. … In closing, I would emphasize that the member who introduced the motion … informed us that there were filing cabinets filled with responses to his survey as to whether people were for or against abortion. I am certain that there were no cabinets filled with responses from women, because women are the ones who have to deal with child rearing on a day to day basis.”
This is typical feminist dribble, stereotypical and wrong. Polls show that women hold slightly more pro-life views. As a sidenote, Bourgeois’s complaint that Parliament passes laws with which the population complies, is precisely the point of having a government than can pass laws. Would she make this same complaint if a male-dominated Parliament passed a law that would allow Quebec to separate, forcing all Canadians to live with the consequences? I doubt it.
The last abortion supporter to speak was Judy Wasylycia-Leis (NDP, Winnipeg North Centre), who said of the bill: “It appears to be an ideological marker for an anti-choice agenda. It also appears to have the goal of changing federal law so that an embryo fetus (sic) is considered a person with rights separate and equal to that of a woman.”
Like the abortion advocates do not have ideological markers: their insistence on taxpayer funding of abortion, bubble zones limiting freedom of expression, etc… However, at least Wasylycia-Leis doesn’t even try to pretend there is some “delicate balance.” No, she insists that the rights of women who want an abortion are paramount – which would be an ideological marker.
Wasylycia-Leis continued: “I would suggest that we leave this debate once and for all. The question of a woman’s right to choose has been decided. Canadians have made a decision that is right with their values and appropriate for this country.”
This is presumptuous in the extreme. The issue has not been decided for all Canadians. But again, here is the idea that some issues are closed. Why didn’t abortion advocates oppose changing the law when it protected the unborn? Why wasn’t the issue considered settled then? What changed? Oh yeah, their side won.Alliance MP Jason Kenney and Liberal MP Paul Szabo both spoke in favour of the motion. They, and Breitkreuz, should be applauded. As Szabo said, “We should never be afraid to raise these issues or to understand what the fundamental issues are.” The lies, illogic and red-herrings of the pro abortion side notwithstanding.