MPs to discuss private member's motion to examine whether a fetus is a human being -

MPs to discuss private member’s motion to examine whether a fetus is a human being


Members of Parliament in Ottawa will discuss today a private member’s motion put forth by backbench Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, who has requested a debate “to look at the question of how we decide what is a human being and who we decide is a human being,” Postmedia News reports.

Woodworth, who is pro-life, wants to explore whether Canadian law should consider a fetus as a human being. If MPs agree to look further into the matter with a vote in the coming months, then a special committee would begin hearings with experts on the matter. And then the Commons could find itself reopening the discussion about Canada’s abortion laws.

Some consider the abortion debate has effectively been reopened with this motion. As this Canadian Press video shows, NDP MPs are already taking a stand, lining up with the pro-choice camp, opposing any attempt to change the status quo.

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MPs to discuss private member’s motion to examine whether a fetus is a human being

  1. Sickening. So the war on women now extends to Canada. Soon there will be no escape from the neocons.

  2. I’d like to point out that if you want to consider your fetus as a human being (your baby), you are welcome to do so without any change to the Criminal Code of Canada. But let’s say you find out you have cancer six weeks into your very wanted pregnancy. Let’s say Woodworth’s motion has gone through and the committee has determined “personhood” gets bestowed at the moment of conception. Let’s say your cancer is an aggressive type and you need chemotherapy NOW, not in 30 weeks. However, you would be knwoingly endangering the life of this other human being who shares your body, and so you would be legally prevented from getting the medical help you need to survive. Now let’s say you have two other young children at home.

    Or, how about getting caught speeding while pregnant.

    • Any such determination of a fetus as a person would then of necessity require in law that there be some kind of clear prioritization of rights. One would clearly be the overriding right of the mother to safeguard her life and health.

      The big concern I’ve always had with regard to our essentially nonexistent laws on this issue is that personhood is determined not on any stage of development but rather on geography (in the womb or out?). At some point, once a determination has been made by the mother that she intends to continue the pregnancy, that life should be given some basic legal protections against deliberate harm or medical malpractice. Medical intervention to save the mother should not fall into either of these.

      I know some would feel the above would not be going far enough, and would want an outright ban on abortion. But I think it makes the pro-choice side look weak and at least as irrational as their opponents when they refuse to even want to discuss the idea that, at some point in the gestational process at least, the unborn should be granted the same basic legal rights as a preemie.

      • Fortunately we have these standards already. Crimes involving deliberate harm to pregnant women generally carry greater penalties and are often considered an aggravating factor in sentencing, and medical malpractice is still medical malpractice no matter the stage of the fetus.

        • “Crimes involving deliberate harm to pregnant women”, sure. But why can we charge someone with murder for kiling a preemie, but not for killing a child of equivalent gestational age while still in the womb? It’s an absurdity and an affront to common sense that one’s rights under law are defined by which ide of the birth canal you’re on.

      • What level of risk should the mother be exposed to? Would she need a court order to ‘murder’ her fetus in self-defense?

        • That would be one of the topics we as a society would need to have. Presumably the medical community would have a significant role to play in the discussion. I expect it would largely be left as a decision between the woman and her health professionals; my proposal is that where the health of the woman is in danger, her rights always supercede those of the unborn child.

      • Sorry, KeithBram, I claim sole ownership of all of my body. Perhaps you would like to ‘share’ your body with another ‘person’ but I, a mother of two, am only prepared to accommodate a fetus in my belly, not a human being. I’m the one who did all the peeing and vomiting, suffered the constant back aches, etc. which is as it should be, because it is MY body. We didn’t seem to be ‘sharing’ when it came to that.

        • So you’re saying, after feeling it kick in your womb, that it wasn’t alive until it exited? You are denying that it has human DNA prior to that point?

          I am not suggesting taking ANYTHING AWAY from a woman’r right o choose; I am saying that, once that choice has been made and the life has reached the point where it can survive as a preemie, then certain rights kick in. If, for example, someone had deliberately assaulted you and caused the death of your unborn child, would you grieve any less than if he had killed your preemie?

          Sometimes pro-lifers are so full of their own BS it makes me puke (anti-abortionists often elicit the same reaction, but somehow I’m pretty sure I know which set of extremists you belong to).

          • I am not denying it had human DNA at all. I am denying it was a person until he or she was born. And really, it is something of a blessing that I think this way. Have you ever had something kick you, every three seconds, in the exact same spot for an hour or two? On a daily basis? That thing wasn’t a person. My darling son when he was born, (big feet and all) was a person and not so much related to that kicking thing.

            (Aren’t pro-lifers and anti-abortionists the same people?) I am very willing to be in the camp of body owners. If that makes me an extremist, so be it.

            The thing about assaulting me. I own all of my body, including any fetus. If that fetus is harmed the seriousness of the assault charge is increased, is it not? Like if I was assaulted with a hacksaw to the arm or leg, for example. What I don’t need is a change to the criminal code to tell me I can be devastated by a loss. I don’t need a law at all for that.

          • Sorry; meant “pro-choice” not “pro-life.” Should proofread more closely.

            Ownership of another is called slavery, is it not? A fetus is not part of your body, any more than a tapeworm would be, so claiming ownership has certain overtones…

            The DNA is different from yours; it has its own organs; its own beating heart. It is alive. It is biologically human. The belief that it is not a separate being that is being hosted by your body but some appendage of yourself may in some ways comfort you but it is self-delusion.

            That it is less a person than a preemie at the same level of development is a legal fiction created because society is too immature to rationally discuss reality.

          • Actually, a tapeworm would be owned by me if I had one inside my body. Ewwww! Still, it would be mine. And I think you’ve kind of nailed it. If I don’t own my fetus, I am a slave to it. It might have its own heartbeat, but it uses mine. It has its own organs, but again it uses mine. While it is in my body (even it it has reached a stage of development that it could theoretically survive outside my body) I own it as something internal to my body. Like that icky tapeworm. I’m thrilled that you don’t advocate slavery, but I wish you’d give me that courtesy as well as my fetus. And don’t worry, I never figured out how to make my fetuses do anything (like, even, stop kicking). Although, nowadays if you’re pregnant you get to park closer to the mall, so I guess that’s something. :)

    • How about determining that a fetus is a fetus? What’s next, the debate on whether a cow is a chicken?

    • Such ethical decisions are grounded in the Principle of Double Effect. The intended good is to save the mother’s life. The unintended effect is that the child will be harmed or killed in order to achieve the desired good. Pro-life ethics maintains that in the case where a mother’s life is gravely at risk and no means is available to save both the mother and child, the desired good of saving the mother is morally just even if doing so will have an undesired and unintended effect.

      • It’s totally great that you have a rationalizing mechanism here. It is also totally irrelevant if you are changing the CRIMINAL code of Canada to read that a fetus is a person prior to birth. Because, along with making abortion a crime, it also makes a woman a criminal in all sorts of ways, as I tried to express above.

  3. We seem to have a government of dinosaurs in suits. They are about as conservative as the Liberal pary of B.C. is liberal. In both cases, they are reform types who don’t even have the cojones to call thei ‘party’ by what it is.

  4. I thi nk it is time to have a thorough discussion of this issue.
    Some believe that life begins at conception. Others believe life begins at erection and that you risk being smote if you spill your sperm. These people believe that every sperm is sacred.
    So we will have to examine this issue from the time that the erect and fully engorged penis is inserted into the vagina. Does that sperm that is produceed have a right to life?
    Is sodomy murder? Is felatio a form of canabalism?
    Should children be excluded from this discussion?
    This issue should arouse the entire nation and perhaps even parliament.

  5. My body, my choice. If I want a baby I will have one, if I don’t want a baby I shouldn’t be forced to have one! I am a willing mother of two and I resent anyone telling me that I should have no reproductive rights. Every woman should have the right to make her own reproductive choices!!

  6. If the discussion is about reproductive rights then it should be regarded as a human rights issue and not a women’s right issue. Why do women have special rights? Men and women should have equal rights.
    A woman should not be forced to continue with an unwanted pregnancy. A woman should not be forced to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. A man should not be held financialy responsible for a pregnancy he does not want.

  7. Just so we’re clear here: the “status quo” that the NDP is lining up to support is that a baby has no legal rights until he or she is born. If the mother decides to kill this baby the day before birth, she may encounter administrative problems but she is legally permitted to do so.

    A lot of commenters here (yes, I’m looking at you 2Jenn) will pretend this is about forcing women to have children. It’s not. It’s about preventing parents from committing the most extreme form of child abuse: killing the child.