Bill C-484 Unborn Victims of Crime Act
MP Ken Epp has introduced a Private Member’s Bill, Bill C-484, that proposes to amend the Criminal Code by making it an indictable offence to injure, cause the death of or attempt to cause the death of a child before or during its birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother.
- Today, there is no law that makes it an offence to harm an unborn child during an attack against the mother.
- There is widespread support to implement laws to protect unborn children.
- If an unborn child has no protection under the law, the woman stands alone in protecting her baby from assault.
- The purpose of Bill C-484 is to recognize that there are two victims in crimes of violence against pregnant women — the mother and the child.
Why This Issue Is Important
Bill C-484 recognizes a crime has been committed against an unborn child when that unborn child is hurt or killed in an attack against the mother. There are currently no criminal laws protecting children while they are still in the womb.
A prior bill presented on the issue was deemed NOT votable (June 13, 2006) due to concerns of some politicians that the provisions of the 2006 proposal might not stand up to a constitutional challenge, or that it might in some way infringe on the rights of women to have an abortion. MP Ken Epp has taken steps to ensure that this new bill, Bill C-484, is written in such a way as to address those concerns. Bill C-484 is not the forum to address the issue of abortion. It has a different intent.
On March 5, MPs voted 147 to 132 on Second Reading of Bill C-484. The bill then went to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for review. You can check here to find out how your MP voted.
How Is Bill C-484 Being Received?
Those who oppose legislation for the protection of the unborn argue that Bill C-484 might provide a wedge to open debate on the issue of the need for abortion laws in Canada. During the first hour of debate for Bill C-484, several witnesses opposing the Bill argued that Canadians do not want this kind of legislation. Despite the examples given of at least six pregnant women who lost their lives and the lives of their unborn children due to violent attacks — with no added criminal charges for the lives of the babies — opposition witnesses said a Bill addressing this injustice made them uneasy.
The Criminal Code currently states that an unborn child only becomes a human being when he or she has completely emerged alive from the mother’s body. If the child is killed in utero no charges can currently be laid, because in Canada the unborn baby is not recognized as a human being under the law.
Some Say Canadians Do Not Care...
No. Canadians do care. An Environics poll commissioned by LifeCanada released in October 2007 (http://www.lifecanada.org/html/resources/polling/2007PollReport.pdf) showed that 72 per cent of Canadians — and 75 per cent of women — support a law that would make it a separate crime to kill a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman.
What Can We Do?
Your Member of Parliament needs to hear that you care about the protection of unborn children. Politicians need to hear that this issue is alive and well in the hearts and minds of Canadians. Families of victims need to know that the Canadian population recognizes that both the mother and the unborn child matter, and that violent crime against a pregnant mother affects two people’s lives not just one. Without a law to address the crime against both the mother and her baby, injustice, rather than justice, has so far been the order of the day.
- Let Ken Epp know you support his bill
- Ask your MP to support the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill. (There is an official record of how your MP voted on the second reading of the bill. Technical note: if the preceding link does not work, try this: click "March 5" on the Hansard calendar, then search for the time "1850" (the keys Ctrl-F call up a search box in most browsers.)
- Meet with your MP. Call and make an appointment to explain why this issue is important to you and many other Canadians.
- Make a telephone call to your MP or send a personal letter.
- Partner with us in 2008.
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