Four Private Members’ bills to amend Section 251 of the Criminal Code have received first reading in the House of Commons in the new session of Parliament that began September 30.  All previous items of Private Members Business relating to abortion and the protection of the unborn child died on the Order Paper when the House prorogued at the end of August.  Two of the new bills and a Private Members’ Motion seek greater protection for the unborn child, while the other two bills would widen access to abortion.

The bill submitted by John Reimer (PC Kitchener), bill C-216, would amend Section 251 to remove the word “health,” leaving only endangerment of life as acceptable grounds for abortion.  It further amends the section by adding “…the life of a female person is endangered where her life is in actual physical danger, irrespective of any consideration of her mental, social or economic condition.”

Explanatory notes on this bill state, that, “The rationale of this Bill is that the unborn constitutes human life, that the only possible ground for ending the life is self-defence and that, therefore, the Criminal Code requires amending in order to afford full legal protection to this life.”

Lawrence O’Neil (PC Cape Breton-Highlands-Canso) has again submitted a bill which would require that every unborn child be represented by counsel at meetings of Therapeutic Abortion Committees.  While not explicit in this legislation, it is presumed that this legal counsel or advocate would present the rights of the child to the TAC and inform them when applications for abortion fall outside the parameters of Section 251.  The intention of this bill is compliance with the spirit as well as the letter of the abortion law.

Both Lucie Pepin (Lib. Outremont) and Svend Robinson (NDP, Burnaby) have submitted legislation to decriminalize abortion in most instances.  Pepin’s bill (C-226) removes the requirement for TACs and does not require abortions to be performed in hospitals.  It would make abortion legal when the pregnant woman’s doctor and one other doctor certified that continuation of the pregnancy would “endanger her life or physical or mental health.”  Robinson’s bill (C-28) goes even further, legalizing all abortion performed by “a qualified medical practitioner,” in other words, abortion on demand.

Mitges’ new motion

None of these bills are yet scheduled on the Order Paper for debate in the House.  However, M-37, a motion submitted by Dr. Gus Mitges (PC Grey-Simcoe) will be scheduled on the Order Paper when Private Members’ Business resumes.  Dr. Mirges’ motion seeks the approval of the House of Commons to amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to explicitly protect the unborn child.

This motion is nearly identical to one which was submitted by Dr. Mitges in the last session, and which was deemed a “votable item” by the Standing Committee on Private Members’ Business.  Presumably the committee will choose Mitges’ new motion as votable as well.  Section of the Charter could be amended to read, “Everyone, including a human foetus or unborn being, has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except with the principles of fundamental justice.”  His previous motion had received the support of all national organizations of the pro-life movement.

Family benefits for homosexuals

Officials of Metro Toronto’s finance department saw fit to demand that line-in partners of homosexual (and lesbian) civic employees should get health care benefits.  Finance Commissioner George Clarke and finance department manager John Gunderman claimed in a report that not giving such benefits to homosexuals is discrimination.  They were supported by alderman Jack Layton, a frequent champion of the homosexual community.  Because of a wavering mayor Art Eggleton the proposal was held over for a week, instead of being rejected out of hand as it should have been.  One week later a further delay was ensured by referring it to the personnel committee.

This is not the first time that civic or municipal servants have used their position to promote the cause of homosexuals.

Pornography – Tupelo, Miss., U.S.A.

The American National Federation for Decency has named Holiday Inns as their “pornographer” of the month.  The NFD award goes to companies which help support pornography with advertising or distribution.  Holiday Inns recently decided to begin carrying porno movies at its motel rooms nationwide.

Bioethics – Vatican City

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is preparing a statement on bioethics.  Catholic doctrine has constantly opposed any actions that threaten the dignity of human life at any stage, or that separate the unitive and procreative aspects of marital love.  The document is to apply the fundamental principles of Church teaching to new medical techniques.

Subjects likely to be addressed include: the moral competence of the Church to teach on matters of bioethics; in virto fertilization; artificial insemination; fetal experimentation; the relationship between civil and natural law; and the relationship between human technology and the order of creation on how we co-operate with God in the development of technology.

The moral principles used to justify Church opposition to in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination have been used already to explain it’s teaching against abortion and contraception.  What is being faced now is, perhaps, as theologian William May explained, not so much the separation of the two functions of the marital act (unitive and procreative), but the deliberate choice to generate human life outside marriage.

Use of aborted babies – Moscow

Experimental transplants of liver tissue from aborted babies were done by Soviet and American doctors in the hope of saving the lives of the most serious radiation victims of the Chernobyl disaster.  As reported by Time (May 1986), doctors Gale, Terasaki and Champlin of the University of California in Los Angeles, helped Soviet medical personnel select those patients who had received such a heavy dose of radiation that their white blood cells, which are needed to match tissues, had been destroyed.  This “forced” the doctors to use fetal liver tissue, also a source of blood cells.  Within a week six of the 19 patients had died.