Alliance for Life hit the nail on the head in its submission to the Supreme Court of Canada in the case determining the state’s responsibility in protecting unborn children.

The Alliance argued that it is time the courts abandoned the “legal fiction” that unborn children have no rights until they fully emerge from the mother’s womb. The case came up in response to a Manitoba court of appeal ruling that the state could not force a pregnant solvent-addicted woman into a treatment program to protect the life and health of her unborn child.

In a concise but telling intervention, Alliance for Life argued that “it is illegal to abuse a child after birth, therefore it is irrational to advocate that a mother can legally abuse this same child before birth.”

Meanwhile, a brief to the Supreme Court filed on behalf of Alliance for Life argues that legal decisions should keep pace with advances in medical science and technology.

“Previous decisions regarding unborn children must be viewed in the context of subsequent developments in medical knowledge about these children’s status,” the brief says. “These developments have revealed that the preborn child has a separate existence from that of his or her mother and thus give rise to rights and obligations hereto unrecognized by Canadian courts.”

Let’s not pretend a law protecting the unborn would impose severe restrictions on the behaviour of all pregnant women. We hope instead for a law that recognizes the special responsibility required of a mother in protecting a separate, distinct human life.

It’s one more example of balancing an individual’s rights and responsibilities.