On Aug. 3, Justice Hood of the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that pro-life activist Jim Demers was guilty of violating that province’s “bubble-zone” law.

Demers was appealing a lower court decision, arguing that the bubble-zone law, formally the Access to Abortion Services Act (1996), is unconstitutional.

Demers argued that unborn children have rights under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” To Demers, the most important question is whether or not the unborn are included among “everyone.”

On Dec. 11, 1996, Demers was carrying a sign protesting abortion outside the Everywoman’s Health Clinic in Vancouver. As Justice Hood noted in his decision, Demers intended “to be charged, and he was charged, with sidewalk interference and protesting,” under the bubble-zone law.

Using the Supreme Court’s long list of anti-life precedents (the Morgentaler, Daigle, and “Ms. G” cases, for example), Justice Hood agreed with the lower court finding that “an unborn child of a woman who has decided to terminate her pregnancy” is not protected under Section 7.

Demers’s lawyers argued that rights are inherent and not given to us by the state, and thus the government cannot violate the right to life.

Demers told The Interim that Canada now treats its unborn like Nazi Germany treated the Jews, the U.S. treated its black slaves, and society historically has treated its women: as something less than human and thus without rights.

He said the issue is not abortion per se, but the source of human rights. If rights originate with the state, then no one, he argues, is safe from the vagaries of government policy.

In an unusual admission by a judge at any level, Justice Hood said that the case will inevitably make its way through the court system.

“It is obvious that this case is going to go to the Court of Appeal, and then on to the Supreme Court of Canada, regardless of the decision in this Court. The sooner the better, in my opinion, for all concerned and interested.”

Demers said he is willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court unless someone comes up with a better pro-life strategy. He believes the court should be confronted again with the question of whether unborn children are included in the constitution.

Campaign Life Coalition B.C. president John Hof told The Interim that Demers’ approach “puts the pro-life argument into a nutshell, to its barebones issue, which is killing unborn children.”

But he added that Demers’ approach is different from his organization’s approach. “We try to debate (clearly) winnable issues and achieve small victories, and we (focus on) tactics and strategies to those ends.”