Insisting he has no “hidden agenda” on abortion, Conservative MP Ken Epp stepped up efforts Tuesday to sell his proposed private member’s bill to recognize fetuses as separate victims when killed or harmed in attacks on pregnant women.
The Sherwood Park MP accused opponents, especially those in Québec, of engaging in a “massive misinformation campaign” about its potential effect on abortion rights in hopes of derailing the bill that passed second reading in the Commons in March. Contrary to what they are saying, the bill specifically states it doesn’t apply to abortion, he told reporters on Parliament Hill.
“To those of you actively campaigning against this bill, I say this: Please stop frightening Canadians about the effect of the bill based on your misreading of it,” he said during a news conference.
Mr. Epp admitted the event was orchestrated to reach out to Québecers, who he says are being subjected to an aggressive misinformation campaign by abortion rights advocates and their allies.
Mr. Epp was joined on the platform by several French-speaking supporters of the bill. Among them were Salman Sesen, who lost his daughter Aysun Sesen and his unborn granddaughter when Aysun Sesen was stabbed to death by her partner last year in Toronto; and Ulrika Drevniok, a graduate nursing student in Montréal who appealed to the medical profession to get behind the bill on grounds it will act as a deterrent to potential abusers of pregnant women and their unborn children.
A trio of Bloc Québecois MPs followed Mr. Epp to the podium, where they portrayed the legislation as a “back-door” route to give the fetus rights and make abortions more difficult to get in Canada.
The bill, titled The Unborn Victims of Crime Act, would amend the Criminal Code to make it a crime to injure or take the life of a fetus against the will of the mother.
It was given second reading approval by a vote of 147 to 133, thanks in part to the support of a score of Liberal MPs. Of the handful of Conservatives who voted against the legislation, three were from Québec — Josée Verner, Lawrence Cannon and Sylvie Boucher.
The bill, which is unlikely to come to a final vote before the fall or winter, would impose penalties of up to life in prison for anyone who directly or indirectly causes the death of an unborn child while attempting to harm the mother. Penalties for injuring the fetus would be up to 14 years in prison.
Bloc MP Nicole Demers said she is concerned the bill could slip through because she suspects Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion’s recently stated opposition to it will not have much influence with members of his caucus who are adamant opponents of abortion.
Ms. Demers said there is fierce opposition in the province because Québecers are not fooled by Mr. Epp’s assurances that the bill does nothing to undermine abortion rights.
Creating a special status for the fetus opens the door for those wanting to recriminalize abortion, she said.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Matt Achine, after a June 11, 2008 article by Norma Greenaway in The Edmonton Journal