EFC SUPPORTS CALL FOR NATIONAL DISCUSSION ON LEGAL DEFINITION OF "HUMAN BEING"
January 3, 2012
OTTAWA – “The question is not so much ‘What is human?’ but ‘When is human?’” suggests Faye Sonier, Legal Counsel for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (the EFC). “Medicine recognizes a point of viability for a child in the womb. Science is prepared to experiment using pre-natal human tissue from conception onward. Yet, Canada’s Criminal Code states that a child in the womb is not human,” explains Sonier. “The Criminal Code provisions on this point are dumbfounding.”
“Parliament needs to examine these provisions; consider their historical roots; and, debate whether they make sense in twenty-first century Canada,” continues Sonier. “The EFC fully supports the recent calls of Members of Parliament Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener –Centre, CPC) and Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC) for a full examination of Canada’s laws in this regard. As Canadians become more aware of what the laws stipulate, they will be astounded.”
As MP Stephen Woodworth offered in a December 21, 2011 media release, section 223(1) of the Criminal Code “defines a human being as a child who has completely proceeded in a living state from the mother’s body, whether or not the child has breathed. This means that in Canada a child is legally considered to be sub-human while his or her little toe remains in the birth canal, even if he or she is breathing.”
Section 223(2) is equally troubling. It sets out that a homicide occurs when a person injures a child before or during its birth and the child dies after exiting the birth canal.
“An Ottawa area case dealt with section 223,” notes EFC Vice-President and General Legal Counsel Don Hutchinson. “A mother was charged with attempted murder after she used a pellet gun to shoot her nearly full term son while he was still in the womb. The boy, born two days later, survived after surgery and some time in an intensive care unit. The charges were later dropped because the child was not considered by law to be a human being when he was shot. In an interesting twist, she received several months’ probation for failing to provide the necessities of life because after birth she didn’t report the pellet lodged in her son’s head.”
“According to section 223, the mother would not even have been charged had her son died before he was born,” continues Hutchinson. “However, had the child died from his injuries after he was born, she would have been charged with homicide. Do these provisions make any sense? Is that consistent with our contemporary understanding of life and human rights?”
“The wording of these laws is very confusing,” states Sonier. “The meaning is from a distant and less medically advanced society. The language of a now ancient time is far from obvious in the current century. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves if these convoluted laws and archaic concepts reflect our values, modern medicine and our understanding of human rights and human life. If they don’t, our political representatives need to take action.”
For more information or an interview contact:
Rick Hiemstra, Director of Media Relations
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
(613) 233-9868, ext. 332