Thursday, February 14, 2008

Edmonton Tory's private member’s bill would protect unborn crime victims

OTTAWA — Edmonton Conservative MP Ken Epp is seeking support for a private member’s bill that would recognize the unborn as separate victims when their mothers are killed or harmed in an attack.

Epp says the Unborn Victims of Crime Act has nothing to do with abortion but is meant to fill a major gap in the law.

But critics say that’s a backdoor effort to reopen the abortion debate by sneaking a recognition of fetal rights into Canadian law.

Epp cited several cases where the killers of pregnant women were charged for the mother’s murder — but not for the death of her fetus.

That’s because the law does not recognize the unborn as human beings until they are born alive.

Epp says his proposed act is supported by people of all political

stripes because it narrowly focuses on cases where a third party harms or kills a fetus in a criminal attack.

He said the bill is constitutional and would not change the Criminal Code in any way that might undermine a woman’s legal access to abortion. A spokeswoman for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada vehemently disagrees. Spokeswoman Joyce Arthur says the bill has been promoted by right-to-life groups, and that it would create redundant protections. Judges and parole boards can already take into account whether a convict has injured or killed an unborn child, she said. The bill is to be voted on March 5, but would be derailed if an early election is called


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