On June 21, Liberal MP Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce, Ont.) introduced Bill C-338, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code (procuring a miscarriage after 20 weeks of gestation), in the House of Commons. In doing so, Steckle noted that Canada is one of the few countries that have absolutely no legal protection for the unborn.

Steckle’s bill would restrict abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. Campaign life Coalition applauded Steckle’s initiative and praised him for being that rare species of politician who raises the abortion issue. Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC’s national organizer, noted that polling data shows the majority of Canadians oppose the status quo of no limits on abortion. An Environics poll last fall reported 60 per cent of Canadians would like to see abortion restricted at some point prior to birth, whether it be at conception, three months’ gestation or six months’. Yet, “Too often, political parties have ignored the wishes of the people to discuss crucial issues and have feared even to address the abortion topic.”

If Steckle’s bill is passed, it would make those who commit an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment of up to five years or else jail for up to two years and/or a fine up to $100,000. The bill provides for exceptions where abortion beyond 20 weeks would be permitted “to save the life of a woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself” and also to “prevent severe, pathological, physical morbidity of the woman.” Some pro-lifers have noticed that the usual psychological health of the mother is absent from the exceptions, but Douglas said that she did not trust the courts to maintain the restrictions as espoused in C-338.

Douglas said she hopes an honest debate about abortion and the humanity of the child in the womb can come forth from the introduction of the bill, but she has her doubts. Pointing to a LifeSiteNews.com report that found the Prime Minister’s Office helped scuttle Leon Benoit’s bill to provide legal recourse to charge and punish for a second crime when an assailant harms a pregnant mother and her child, Douglas wondered if there would be more political shenanigans to prevent a debate on C-338.

In the August CLC Natonal News, the organization stated, “We hope that more MPs will follow (Steckle’s) lead in introducing measures to chip away at abortion.” It suggested strategies that focus on particular procedures, abortion funding, informed consent regulations and parental involvement laws as ideal starting points to limit the damage done by abortion. CLC president Jim Hughes told The Interim he hopes Steckle’s bill inspires a pro-active approach to dealing with abortion on Parliament Hill, where too many legislators have been complacent while the abortion industry kills off more than 100,000 unborn babies each year. He added: “Although far from perfect, C-338 could save the lives of several thousand babies each year.”