Stephen Woodworth’s challenge

by Aaron Wherry

A new statement from the Conservative backbencher in his quest to start a national debate about abortion.

MP Stephen Woodworth is challenging those who disagree with his description of Canada’s 400 year old definition of human being to prove him wrong.  “I’ve pointed out that Canada’s definition of human being was formulated more than 400 years ago and says that a child is not a human being in Canada until the moment of complete birth.  Those are the plain words of Section 223, and no one is allowed fundamental human rights if they are not a human being.  If that isn’t true, prove it”, he says.

Woodworth says he is pursuing hints that the Canadian definition of human being might have originated in the twelfth century, which would make it almost 900 years old. “I’ve concluded that 21st Century modern medical science informs us that children are certainly human beings before the moment of complete birth”, he says, challenging those who disagree to produce medical evidence which supports the existing Canadian law.

Woodworth proposes that Parliament has a duty to examine Canada’s existing 400 year old definition of a human being because of its important implications. “If there’s justification for a law which defines anyone as less than a human when that person is clearly a human being, let Canadians hear it.  If there’s a principled reason why Parliament has no duty to update this 400 year old law which has such important consequences, let’s hear it”.

Woodworth asserts that while Section 223 is relevant to the abortion issue, it has much wider implications for Canadian law.  “A law which denies that someone is a human being without any principled justification or scientific basis is not a just law”, he states. He believes a respectful dialogue about the principles and evidence which inform a law that decides who is a human being will help to reconcile views.

Woodworth will decide by February how to pursue his proposal that Parliament study whether the Canadian definition of human being is justified by 21st Century modern medical science and principle.

Mr. Woodworth has at least one supporter in the Conservative caucus.




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Stephen Woodworth’s challenge

  1. Oh FFS, yet again. That’s not how legislation works and that’s not how jurisprudence works. Which, being a lawyer, he probably ought to know better.

  2. Lost in the debate is any reference to the life of the often young, ignorant and confused mother-to-be.  For those of us old enough to remember, the current legislation allowing abortion in the first trimester was largely to try and avoid the deaths of these young “mothers” in back alley abortion mills, or following desperate attempts to “do it themselves” with bent coat hangers.

  3. Everyone who has used contraceptives is well aware when life starts and yet we have to listen to an amazing amount of sophistry about how babies aren’t human. 

    wiki ~ “A zygote is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction ….. A zygote is always synthesized from the union of two gametes, and constitutes the first stage in a unique organism’s development.” 

    PJ O’Rourke ~ “Liberals have invented whole college majors–psychology, sociology, women’s studies–to prove that nothing is anybody’s fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you’d have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers.

    A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.”

    • Meanwhile, intelligent pragmatists realize that there’s no compelling evidence that capital punishment solves anything and there is a danger that it will be applied in error. Or that a lack of capital punishment specifically will endanger another. None of which applies to abortion.

      If you believe that abortion should not be legal except in the case of rape, you’re not pro-life, you’re anti-choice.

      If you believe that abortion should not be legal but that the government should not be able to compel you to donate blood and/or organs to save the life of another, you’re not pro-life, you’re a hypocrite.

      As for this proposal specifically, I’m impressed. He’s come up with a reasonable argument for the definition of a human within our law. Now whether that means we must force a pregnant person to donate the use of their blood and organs to another organism.. even if it is a human, is the next question we should consider.

      • Yeah, and I wouldn’t mind having a serious discussion on humanity being obtained after the first half of the third trimester or something, if it came from anyone other than Stephen Woodworth. 

        Thanks to him, my kids couldn’t have a health professional on site at their school because someone once said that a public health nurse gave a business card to one of the students, which had a phone number to the public health office, which one could call to find out about how to get an abortion.  There was absolutely no suggestion that the public health nurse facilitated an abortion for a student in the Catholic school system, you understand–she gave a kid a business card.  The public health office agreed they wouldn’t do that anymore, but the “damage” was done.

        He’s got a one-track mind, sees abortions being performed everywhere and at all times, and sees nothing else.   I expect if it were up to him, he’d end all health care of all kinds on the off chance someone could glean some information about how to perform an abortion on oneself.

  4. I have trouble taking any argument seriously if the person making it puts his closing punctuation outside of his quotation marks.

  5. TAking his “logic” at face value, one might ask his views on how we regulate alcohol vs. marijuana.

    And then have a quiet chuckle at his expense.

  6. Hello, Stephen?  The clock is ticking on Maple Leafs closure, affecting lots of people in your riding.  They are, unquestionably, human beings.  I know how very busy you must be on this personal crusade, but spare a thought for them, won’t you?

  7. Sec 223 was used in a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 1991 (?) , where 2 midwives were found not negligent in the assistance of a birth.
    The law may seem too simplistic for the 21st century, but changing it would have implications beyond opening up the abortion debate.

    The science angle won’t work, because science can not now and likely never will be able to prove that ‘potential life’ is the guarantee of ‘life’.

    The Medical Assoc guidelines dictates that a fetus is viable after 20 weeks.
    Thats where science and moral judgement can intersect on one law, imo, that “elective” abortions after 20 weeks sould be prohibited (not medically necessary)

    btw, I believe life starts at conception, so date stamping when a baby becomes human just doesn’t do it for me at all.  And neither does forcing my beliefs on others.

    • “And neither does forcing my beliefs on others”…

      Being a partisan must be really hard for you sometimes. 

  8. I’m so glad that abortion, like same sex marriage, is a settled matter, and there is no need for divisive debate on these topics in Canada, the land of tolerance.

    Oh, wait.

    Ottawa does about-face on same-sex marriage for non-Canadians
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-does-about-face-on-same-sex-marriage-for-non-canadians/article2299574/

    Hmmm. Well, this just involves foreigners married here, not the rights of Canadians. No way I can see any debate about creepy gay foreigners coming to get hitched here against the laws of gawd resulting in any further divisive discussion of SSM for Canadians, since that’s a settled matter.

    No way that will happen. If it was even a possibility, I’m sure our ever-alert liberal media (/cue laugh track) would be warning of this possibility.

  9. The very existence of this thread is testament to the political power of the right-wing social conservatives who back Harper.

  10. My question is, what does he see as the practical implications of changing this law *other* than limiting abortion?

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