OTTAWA, Aug. 9, 2006 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on reports that MP Leon Benoit’s private members’ bill attempting to make murderers guilty of more than one homicide if a woman is pregnant was deemed non-votable under advice from Justice Minister Vic Toews in a move to avoid re-opening debate of the abortion question.
The bill, introduced May 17, did not mention abortion in any way, nor touch on the Criminal Code’s definition of “human being”. It was introduced in recognition of two high-profile killings of pregnant women in 2005 in Edmonton, in which both the mother and unborn child died. The League said at the time that the bill could help restore some legal protection for the unborn.
The bill was deemed non-votable by a subcommittee, meeting in camera, after its MP members received a letter from Mr. Toews advising that the legislation was unconstitutional. However, news reports based on documents obtained under the Access to Information Act suggest that Mr. Toews was told that the proposal could ultimately re-criminalize abortion.
“The League is committed to the protection of all human life from conception to natural death,” said President Phil Horgan. “While recognizing that Mr. Benoit’s bill was not about abortion, we welcomed its inherent recognition that the unborn child is a separate person. Reports that even this modest recognition was deemed unacceptable are a disappointment.”
The League has corresponded with Prime Minister Harper and several cabinet ministers encouraging them to re-consider their pledge not to re-open the abortion question. We cited news reports about changes in public opinion based on new information about pre-natal life, as well as credible reports that abortions for no reason other than sex selection are taking place in Canada. To date, we have received only courtesy replies.
About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.