MP's bill seeks debate over when child becomes human

February 13, 2012

OTTAWA – A Conservative MP has introduced a motion that could re-ignite the abortion debate in Parliament.

MP Stephen Woodworth tabled a motion Feb. 6 that Parliament appoint a special committee of 12 members to review the section of the Criminal Code that states a child becomes a human being "only at the moment of complete birth."

Though Woodworth told journalists he was not addressing abortion in his motion, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson issued a terse statement saying, "The prime minister has been very clear, our government will not reopen this debate."

At a news conference to announce his motion, Woodworth said he opposes any law that says some human beings are not human beings.

"History is littered with disastrous examples of laws which pretended some people were not human beings to achieve some desired result or suit someone's philosophy."

Woodworth wants the committee to examine the medical evidence about whether a child "is or is not a human being" before complete birth, and whether this evidence is consistent with subsection 223 (1) of the Criminal Code.

The motion also asks what the legal impact and consequences are of this subsection on the fundamental human rights of a child before birth.

The committee would have 10 months to study the issue.

"There might be some people who can convince themselves that a child magically transforms into a human being when their little toe pops out of the birth canal," Woodworth said.

"However, I've concluded that modern medical science will inform us that children are in reality human beings at some point before the moment of complete birth."

"Just laws must be based on accurate evidence, not arbitrary lines unrelated to reality."

The motion is likely to come up for debate in late March.