In just a few weeks Bill C-225 (Cassie and Molly’s Law) will be debated and voted on by our country’s law makers. With it comes another opportunity to address the long neglected issue the legality of injuring or killing a child in the womb while committing a violent crime against the mother.
It should not be hard to make a case for a law that would make it a crime to violate the will of a woman in such an egregious way. To kill her preborn baby against her will is an obvious and heinous crime, yet it remains a subject that some politicians are keen to avoid. Even when it means Canada will remain in violation of the standards set forth by the international community.
The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:
“Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.”
But Canadian criminal law is blind to any difference between a woman who is pregnant and one who is not. This makes it impossible for its justice system to directly address crimes of coercion and violence that were because of, or were against her reproductive choices.
According to Statistics Canada, 63,000 pregnant women were victims of domestic violence between 2004 and 2009. Women abused during pregnancy were four times as likely as other abused women to report having experienced very serious violence, including being beaten up, choked, threatened with a gun/knife or sexually assaulted. (Health Canada, 2004).
In a country, which is normally perceived to have such a high standard of human rights, the reproductive rights of a woman as defined by the World Health Organization are not being observed or adhered to.
At the same time, Canada violates the rights of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Canada signed onto in 1990. It states the legal protections of children are paramount in both born and pre-born children. The UNCRC states, “The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”
Canada remains in clear violation of both the World Health Organization and the United Nations standards. This can be easily seen from either perspective of the rights of the child or the woman.
These violations don’t “cancel each other out”
There is a balance that must be struck that special interest groups in Canada have commandeered and prevented for decades. Every effort to address the absence of such a law has been pulled in one direction or the other in an effort by these groups to suit their own agendas until any conversation becomes mired in debates about a greater ideology. The original point disappears entirely.
As a result the women who choose to keep their pregnancies continue to have no protection from criminal law for the child in their womb.
The consequence of these manipulations is the perpetuation of a legal void that is hurting women, is hurting their children, and it is hurting the families affected by such heinous acts of violence. The only ones not hurting are those who are guilty of such crimes.
The neglect to address this issue rationally is in violation of both a woman’s reproductive rights and the rights of child. Any argument that cancels one for the other is guilty of dismissing both. In turn, the point is missed, justice remains absent, and the victims that are the pregnant women – their children – their families, are the losers.
On October 5th 2016, at the debate for Bill C-225 (Cassie and Molly’s Law), the new Canadian Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have its first opportunity to address these violations of the rights of women and children.