Interim staff

Canada’s Catholic bishops have seized on the Brenda Drummond case to make the rights of the unborn a prominent issue in the upcoming federal election.

In a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family said the results of the Drummond case – which found that the unborn are not entitled to legal protection in the Criminal Code until they fully pass from the mother’s womb – “defy common sense and offend the moral sense of the average person.”

The letter was signed by Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver, the chairman of the bishops’ life and family committee. He said that while the decision in the Drummond case can be justified under the Criminal Code, it is seriously out of step with medical science and legal thinking.

The Drummond case put the spotlight on the rights of the unborn last summer. It began in June when Ottawa area postal employee Brenda Drummond shot her near-term son with a pellet rifle in an apparent attempt at self-abortion. The child, subsequently named Jonathon, was born two days later. Doctors then discovered the pellet lodged in the child’s brain.

No law for unborn

Drummond was charged with attempted murder, but was acquitted in December when Judge Inger Hansen ruled that under the Criminal Code, a deliberate injury to an unborn child “can’t be considered homicide or attempted homicide.”

Pro-life groups, including Campaign Life Coalition, immediately criticized the decision, arguing that it’s time Parliament and the courts put a stop to the legal vacuum that exists for the unborn.

“Surely the result of the Drummond case seriously transgresses essential societal values about the fundamental worth of each human at all stages of development,” Archbishop Exner wrote to the Prime Minister. “These values can be reaffirmed by repealing the archaic section 223 (of the Criminal Code) and replacing it with provisions that define the unborn child as a human being and protect him or her as a person from the time of conception. Anything less is contrary to good science, law and ethics.”

Archbishop Exner urged a positive response to the protection of the unborn from the Chrétien Liberals.

“In anticipation of the next election, we look forward to hearing how your government proposes to respond to these serious concerns which are shared by so many Canadians who were stunned to hear that a fully-term baby is not considered a human being, leaving the wounded Jonathon Drummond without an apparent legal remedy.”