Canadian Members of Parliament will soon have the first opportunity since the constitutional debates of 1981 to vote on an item concerning the protection of the unborn child.

The motion of Gus Mitges (Grey-Simcoe), which seeks to amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect the pre-born child has been deemed a votable item” by the Standing Committee on Private Members’ Business, and will receive five hours of debate before coming to a vote several months from now, in the spring or early summer of 1987.

Mitges’ motion M-37 seeks the approval of the House to amend Section 7 of the Charter 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 in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Passage of this motion would not in itself amend the Charter, but would express the will of the House of Commons to do so.  Amending legislation to the Constitution Act would then need to be drafted and passed by Parliament, with the approval of seven of the ten provinces comprising 50 per cent of the population.

If the Charter were amended according to Mitges’ motion, the subsections of Section 251 of the Criminal Code, which allows abortion, could be struck down if they are found to be outside of the principles of fundamental justice and not a “reasonable limit” under Section 1 of the Charter.  Although this would be a long and arduous process, Mitges’ motion is the first step in explicitly defining the rights of the unborn child in Canadian law.

Alliance for Life, Campaign Life and Coalition for the Protection of Human Life have unanimously endorsed the motion.  All of these groups will call on their membership to write letters of support for M-37 to individual Members of Parliament.  The political pro-life groups will use the recorded vote to assess pro-life strength in Parliament and monitor those MPs who claimed to be pro-life during the last election campaign.