Parliament set to vote on definition-of-life motion
A private member’s motion calling for a debate on the definition of human life is set to come before Parliament for a second discussion and vote this fall. Motion-312, introduced by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, would see appointed a special House committee to review the section of the Criminal Code of Canada defining at which point a child becomes a human being. Under current Canadian law, which is based on a centuries-old definition of human life, a child is not considered a human being until it has completely proceeded from its mother’s body. Motion-312 calls for a re-examination of that law on the basis of current medical knowledge
The motion has received widespread support from pro-life supporters. Among them, Historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (Kitchener, Ontario) has taken up the cause and created a website entitled “Not Yet Born.” The site was developed by members of Historic St. Paul’s in collaboration with Mr. Woodworth, and provides a number of resources for the current debate over M-312.
“It’s a human rights issue,” said Mr. Woodworth, who recently gave a talk at Historic St. Paul’s Lutheran. Church members joined participants at Lutheran Church–Canada’s East District Youth and Young Adult Retreat for the 40-minute presentation. “Recognizing human rights does not guarantee their protection,” said Woodworth. “However, failing to recognize anyone’s human rights guarantees that they will not be protected.” Click here for an mp3 of Mr. Woodworth’s presentation at Historic St. Paul’s Lutheran.
Like others who speak up for the rights of children before birth, the lifelong Roman Catholic and pro-life advocate gets accused of forcing his religious beliefs on the public. But do we need a religious belief system to tell us that birth is not a moment of magical transformation from ‘tissue’ to ‘human being’? No, asserts Mr. Woodworth, who practiced law for thirty years before his election to Parliament in 2008. “Whether one is a Buddhist or a Lutheran or a Catholic or an atheist, the idea of universal human rights is universal.” People know there’s no real difference between a child five minutes before and after birth; modern medical imaging makes this reality undeniably clear.
Canadians care about universal human rights. The most recent polls (Environics, October 2011) show that at least 72% of Canadians want some legal protection for children before birth. The challenge, says Mr. Woodworth, is that 80% of Canadians erroneously believe our country already protects these children—at least in the third trimester of their development. But Canada’s law does not even acknowledge their humanness.
Mr. Woodworth is encouraging all who agree with M-312 to write letters to their Members of Parliament. We need to convince MPs “that Canadians stand behind them in recognizing the human rights of every human being,” he said. To that end, a sample letter has been placed online at the “Not Yet Born” website, along with downloadable English and French petitions and other materials to raise awareness.