Dear Member of Parliament,
On December 15, 2010, you will be voting on Bill C-510, Roxanne's Law. The bill is designed to specify the criminal offence of coercing or attempting to coerce a woman into having an unwanted abortion.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada supports this bill, and we have heard the expressed concerns of some Members of Parliament about its application. Following are responses to those concerns brought to our attention about the bill.
Women Support Roxanne's Law
Some Members have expressed that they do not believe Canadian women support Bill C-510. Many Canadian women do support the bill and they have made the effort to raise their voices in support of it through letter writing, petitions and a video campaign that was hosted by the EFC. They know that Roxanne’s Law is a pro-woman bill and they wanted to share that with you (view the entire stream of videos here).
Coerced Abortion Takes Place in Canada
The Canadian public is well aware that abortion coercion takes place in this country. The media has raised general awareness about coerced abortion through coverage of some of the more tragic stories of Canadian women who have suffered at the hands of those from whom they should have received support.
In 2007, Canadians learned details about the death of Roxanne Fernando, for whom Bill C-510 is named, who was murdered by her boyfriend, the father of her unborn child, after refusing to have an abortion. Ms. Fernando was lured outside for a supposed Valentine's Day date, then beaten and left to die in a snow bank.
In late November 2010, Melinda Morin testified that she fatally stabbed her boyfriend in self-defence after he attacked her because she refused to terminate her pregnancy.
Unfortunately, as a result of some cultural preferences, abortion coercion is also taking place in some identified Canadian ethnic communities. In recent years, studies and media coverage have brought the world's attention to gendercide and sex-selection. In certain cultures where boys are strongly preferred, women are being pressured to abort their female babies - after the baby has matured to the point where its sex is identifiable.
In what the Economist called "the worldwide war on baby girls", gendercide is leading to dramatically unnatural sex-ratios in some countries and a 2006 report by the Western Standard revealed that in certain ethno-cultural communities in Canada, similar ratios exist. The Toronto Star covered this issue in October 2009 and found immense pressure placed on Canadian young women from certain communities to have baby boys and to abort their girls.
Specific Provisions for Specific Actions
It is important to recognize the value of including a specific Criminal Code provision singling out this type of treatment of women. It will clearly identify for women and the public that coercing a women into an unwanted abortion in Canada, a country that places high value on human rights, is unacceptable. We have been unable to find any reported court decisions where an individual was charged for abortion coercion under existing Criminal Code provisions. There is a need for legislative clarity.
In addition to providing specificity, Criminal Code provisions may play several additional helpful roles and fulfill additional purposes such as deterrence, denunciation, reflection of a society's values and an educational role. Adding such specific provisions to the Criminal Code for legislative and enforcement clarity is not a novel practice. For example, just weeks ago Bill S-9 created a new section of the Criminal Code, s. 333.1, which makes it a specific offence to steal a motor vehicle, even though theft is an offence under s. 322 of the Code.
If you have additional concerns, we have prepared two question and answers (One & Two) sheets that address the most commonly raised law-related concerns. We trust they will be helpful in addressing any concerns you may have.
Bill C-510, satisfies constitutional and legal qualifications for Criminal Code enactment. It is clear and well defined in scope and application.
We strongly urge you to vote in favour of Bill C-510, Roxanne’s Law. If you have concerns about the bill that are not addressed in our Q and A’s then we encourage you to send the bill to committee where it can be even more thoroughly explored.
Bill C-510, Roxanne’s Law, is a pro-woman bill which will better enable the protection of a mother’s choice.
Faye Sonier, Legal Counsel & Don Hutchinson, VP, General Legal Counsel
• EFC Open Letter to MPs on C-510, Faye Sonier, Dec 15, 2010
• Women support Roxanne’s Law against coerced abortion, Faye Sonier, ActivateCFPL, Dec 1, 2010
• Roxanne’s Law Deemed Votable!, Faye Sonier, ActivateCFPL, Oct 22, 2010
• Roxanne’s Law on Coerced Abortions: Law-Related Questions and Answers, Faye Sonier, ActivateCFPL, April 19, 2010
• Roxanne’s Law: Three Camps? Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Abortion, ActivateCFPL, April 17, 2010
• Roxanne’s Law (www.roxanneslaw.ca)
• Status of the Bill
• Text of the Bill
• Speeches at Second Reading