I apologize for he graphic picture above of the 19 week gestation baby. I struggled with posting but felt the situation justified the boldness. Canadian law says he is not human, and his life can be terminated for any reason or no reason, as thousands just like him do every year. My son was born just weeks after this baby and prior to his birth he was not considered human. Canadian law needs to change.
Canada prides itself on its long history of human rights. The rights of the unborn are defined by a very outdated scientific definition of when someone can be considered a person. How old is the science? 400 years old.
This law is underwritten by 17th century science that states a baby isn’t human until it it is born and separate from its mother. That means a baby born at 30 weeks is defined by law as a human being with all the rights and protections of the law, but a baby 36 weeks in the womb is legally a non human with no rights or protections. Wait, the ambiguity and absurdity gets worse.
Canadian law also states someone who causes the death of a preborn baby has committed homicide. In that case, the baby is, under law considered a human being. So which is it? When does a baby become a human?
Criminal Code: (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)
When child becomes human being in Canada
223 (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not
(a) it has breathed;
(b) it has an independent circulation; or
(c) the navel string is severed.
(2) A person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.
As you can see, Canada’s law makers are not quite coherent on when a baby becomes a human being, and they are utterly uninterested in letting science bring any clarity to the question.
The Science on Abortion
What does the science say if anything at all about personhood? Well, that is a problem too, because Canada’s “live born” law which defines when a baby becomes a human being dates back to the year 1644, and Coke’s [Institutes of the Lawes of England]. Canada lawmakers adopted this definition of when a baby becomes a human being in 1892.
The law is based in the science that believed a fetus was a glob of jelly. Today of course science has seen right into the beginnings of life itself with its staggering complexity, beauty and sophistication.
The fact that Canada’s law is based on the same medical science that brought us bloodletting and blistering patients skin to cure mental and physical illnesses, has caused at least one law maker to call for a study on the issue.
In 2012, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth proposed a private members motion for a parliamentary committee study into the legal definition of when a baby’s person-hood begins.
Motion 312 simply calls for a study of the evidence about when a child becomes a human being. It does not propose any answer to that question
birth is a moment of magical transformation that changes a child from a non-human to a human being,
Woodworth argued that the 400 year old definition of person-hood is “dishonest”, according to of CBC News [
Woodworth challenged his colleagues to have a;
respectful dialogue and an open-minded study of the evidence…. [and to] courageously follow the facts wherever they lead…
He was met with strong opposition, but not from a scientific argument. Instead Woodworth was attacked personally, even his own party members accused him of having an agenda to curb woman’s rights in Canada.
Conservative whip Gordon O’Connor, accused Woodworth of imposing his beliefs on Canadians though the criminal code.
Trying to amend the legal rules governing abortion as is intended by this motion will … only lead to increased conflict as the attempt is made to turn back the clock.
Society has moved on and I don’t believe this proposal should proceed.
of CBC News [
It would appear O’Connor’s’ concern is for lobby and special interest groups, not human rights. His tactic of changing the focus from human development science to the motives behind the study shows the weakness of the data supporting the Canadian law.
Woodworth’s motion was defeated as no one wants to talk about it claiming Canadian’s are in agreement with the current abortion laws.
Canadian’s Have No Idea
O’Connor claims to speaking on behalf of Canadian society, but the vast majority of Canadians are ignorant of abortion law.
- almost 80% of Canadians have no idea that unrestricted abortion on demand is the law of the land [Fig 2]
Even if the majority of Canadian’s believe a baby is not a human being until it is born, it still doesn’t mean the law is just.
- The Supreme Court of Canada didn’t recognize woman as people in some situations until Oct. 18, 1929¹, What if we were still holding onto that majority supported law?
Unfortunately the focus of abortion is not the humanity of the baby, but the rights of the mother, and it comes at the expense of rational discourse. Science doesn’t seem to matter, and any discussion is shut own immediately.
In 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada removed the last barrier of protection for babies the abortion rate jumped over 30%, bringing the total to about 100,000/yr.²
What has the cost been for ignoring the issue of the humanity of preborn babies in Canada? It has resulted in the most liberal abortion laws in the world. Abortion in Canada is on demand, for any reason, at any time during the pregnancy.
- 25,000 babies lives are terminated annually due to financial considerations, even though adoption is an option [Fig 4]
- Another 25,000 babies die because of inconvenience [Fig 4]
These numbers are low because not all abortion clinics report to the federal government. The unwillingness to allow modern science to weigh in on, or even discuss the issue results in the loss of at least 50,000 Canadian citizens every year.
3 Nations Have Unrestricted Abortions > 24 Wks
Today a baby can survive out side the womb by 24 weeks gestation. Between 2000 and 2010 there were over 279 abortions performed on “non-human” babies of 28 weeks and older, and more than 4,624 between 20 weeks and 27 weeks. Canada’s late term abortion rate is alarming and is also certainly low because of lax reporting regulations. [Fig 3]
There are only seven nations that allow abortions after 20 weeks gestation, of those only two other than Canada allow unrestricted abortion from 24 weeks to full term.
- China (Communist)
- North Korea (Communist)
In Canada partial birth abortions [dilation and extraction] are legal. This is when a baby can be turned around in the womb at full term and birthed breached until his or her neck is exposed, then a doctor creates a hole in the base of the skull, inserts a suction devise and evacuates the baby’s brain matter, causing death. These abortions are rare but the fact that political lobby groups can stifle discussion and debate is a travesty of not only Canadian justice, but humanity itself.
Any rational person knows there is no moment during the birthing process, when the baby magically becomes a human being. Someone you know today was born well before full term, maybe even under 28 weeks, were they not human? My son was born at 24 weeks, and I can tell you that he was human inside and outside the womb.
This issue is not about science, or ethics, or the baby, or even human rights. Woodworth’s opponents were right, its about an agenda.
In Canada, in 2012, a woman’s right to choose is not up for negotiation [NDP’s women’s issues critic, Niki Ashton]
1/2 a million Canadian citizens have been lost in the past decade because they were inconvenient. [Fig 4]
Modern science tells us that everything that makes us human is in the digital coding in our DNA. When a baby is conceived, nothing is added, all that is human is already there. I don’t believe Canada will ever define babies human from conception, but certainly if they can survive outside the womb, then a case can be at least argued for their humanity.
Canadian Law & Dred Scott
Canada’s legislated humanity reminds me of a similar Supreme Courts decision, and that was the Dred Scott decision in the United States in the mid 1800s. The U.S. Supreme Court would not regulate slavery, as they said it was an individuals decision of conscience. The court felt that each person had the right to choose whether having a slave was right or wrong.³
Our conservative friend Gordon O’Connor said he was worried about turning back the clock, but to deny a baby person-hood based on a 400 year old definition of when a person becomes a person, that sir is turning back the clock.
If a baby is otherwise healthy and can survive outside of the womb, he or she should have the right to life. No one, not even his or her mother has the right to terminate that life.
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- CBC News Digital Archive; “Woman Become Persons“
- Abortion in Canada
- Scott v. Sandford; U.S Law Cornell.edu