Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton-Melville) tabled C-225, a private members bill in Parliament that would, if passed, recognize the loss of pre-born babies in crimes committed against their mothers. Wagantall, a rookie MP, calls her bill Cassie and Molly’s Law, after Cassandra Kaake, a Windsor woman murdered in 2014, and Molly, her unborn daughter who died in the womb.
Matthew Brush is facing one first-degree murder charge for allegedly killing Kaake when she was seven months pregnant, but does not face any additional charges or punishment for taking the life of Kaake’s unborn but named baby girl, Molly. Wagantall said the case and the Molly Matters campaign convinced her of the need for a new law.
Wagantall said Cassie and Molly’s Law “fills a substantial gap in the Criminal Code.” She insists the law is not a pro-life bill because “It protects a woman’s right to choose to have her baby” and therefore, Wagantall says, ought to be supported by pro-life and pro-abortion supporters alike.
Jeff Durham, Kaake’s partner and Molly’s father, supports the bill and he describes himself as “pro-choice.” He ran the Molly Matters campaign which collected more than 15,000 signatures calling for such a law protecting unborn victims.
An unborn victims bill was introduced by Ken Epp in 2008, and was opposed by abortion advocates who claimed such laws are the first step toward re-criminalization of abortion by treating the unborn baby as a legal person. Wagantall says that Durham’s public support of the bill is part of the strategy to counter so-called pro-choice objections that unborn victims laws are pro-life laws in sheep’s clothing. Epp’s bill passed second reading in 2008, but never received a final vote because the election was called.
Wagantall said her bill intentionally avoids treating the baby as a person and does not attach an independent offence to injuring or killing the baby. Since there must be a crime first against the mother, the added offense of injuring the child increases the penalty for the attack on the mother, providing more deterrence and protection of both mother and child.
Wagantall denies the bill stealthily recriminalizes abortion. “This is a stand-alone bill, not an effort to reopen the abortion debate. It should be supported by those who want choice for women; it protects women who have chosen to have their babies.” She said, “I’ll do everything on my part” to get the bill passed. She says some Liberals have expressed support for the bill and said she hopes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognizes that it is not an abortion bill and therefore he should permit his caucus to vote their consciences on the matter.
Anticipating attacks against Cassie and Molly’s Law from abortion advocates, Durham, blogged: “I am arguing that women deserve and need to be protected from acts of violence – and deserve to have their choice – THEIR BABIES – protected too.” Durham added that he has no control of what pro-life groups did with the issue, as he has no control “over the fear propaganda that you spread” with the argument that such a law “would somehow subtract a woman’s rights.”
Pro-life groups such as Campaign Life Coalition and the Association for Reformed Political Action support the bill, formally known as An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of a preborn child while committing an offense).
CLC national president Jim Hughes said his organization supports Cassie and Molly’s Law because “it calls for the punishment of someone who takes the life of a pre-born child during the commission of a crime, because it recognizes that the pre-born child has intrinsic value to its parents, as well as to society, such that those who injure or kill the pre-born child during the commission of an offence will be held to account and punished for the damage they have done to the pre-born child.”