OTTAWA – A fetus should be regarded as a second victim when a pregnant woman is killed or injured? This is what is suggested in the private member’s bill by conservative member of parliament Cathay Wagantall.
The Law of Cassie and Molly or C-225, which proposes to amend the criminal Code to include new offences when an unborn child is at stake, has created a stir in the House of commons during the first debate on this subject. Already, the liberals and the NDP have indicated that they did not support the project.
Cathay Wagantall, an elected official of the Saskatchewan, has decided to present C-225 after hearing the story of Jeff Durham, a man who has lost his wife Cassie and his little Molly in the hands of an assassin. Molly had to be born in 10 weeks at the time of the murder.
Jeff Durham has created the site Molly Matters in honor of her daughter to be born.
The mp maintains that his bill would fill a gap in the criminal Code for pregnant women and this, without changing the legal definition of a human being or the legal status of the fetus.
The Law of Cassie and Molly would not penalize a pregnant woman who would harm the child she carries in her belly, directly or indirectly.
“The new offences apply only to situations where a third person will be hurt or kills an unborn child during the time he commits or attempts to commit a criminal offence against the woman,” said Cathay Wagantall, who retained his tears at times during his speech.
“Go through the back door “
But these guarantees were not enough to convince the other parties, who accuse already the conservatives want to reopen the debate on abortion.
“This is clearly a bill that aims to reopen the debate on abortion. Protections for mothers already exist in the act, and the pregnancy is already a consideration of the system of justice in place, ” said David Graham, member of parliament for Laurentides-Labelle.
“I think that this is yet another attempt by the conservatives to pass by the back door in this debate-there “, noted for his part Luc Thériault, parliamentary leader of the Bloc québécois.
“We all agree to say that the protection of women against violence, including pregnant women, is a primary goal.”
— Bill Blair
Within the ranks of conservatives, it ensures that there will be a free vote on the Law of Cassie and Molly. But some mps say they want to take knowledge of the details before making their choice.
“In the process, we will discuss, we will listen to the arguments of both sides,” said Joel Godin Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. This bill is interesting and I think that it is necessary to reflect on and think about. “
The member of parliament for the Quebec city region is said to be “receptive” to the ideas proposed by his colleague, Cathay Wagantall. “I’m very sensitive to that and I think we should protect the fetus,” says Joel Godin.
For the deputy leader of the conservative Party, Denis Lebel, it is “clear” that his caucus will not open the debate on abortion. “It is a thing settled!” he said.
A broader mandate
The parliamentary secretary to the minister of Justice, Bill Blair, has pointed out that two similar bills – which were intended to punish persons guilty of an attack on a pregnant woman – were rejected in 2006 and 2008.
He praised the “compassion” and “commitment” of the conservative Cathay Wagantall in this case, the former chief of police expressed concern that his bill will not contravene the Charter of rights and freedoms.
Bill Blair is the former chief of police of Toronto. (Photo : PC)
“We all agree to say that the protection of women against violence, including pregnant women, is a critical objective,” said Bill Blair. He feared, however, that the Law of Cassie and Molly have a “negative impact” on the right of women to choose to terminate her pregnancy or not.
“Because his offenses apply to an unborn foetus, at any stage of its development, it would mean that they could apply from the moment of conception and give the fetus a legal status, which is not currently recognized “, he explains.
He also recalled that the law already provides for harsher penalties when a mother become a victim of a crime.
The spokesperson for the NDP on the status of women, Sheila Malcolmson, think that the fight against violence against pregnant women would be in a comprehensive plan of action of the federal government.
In their budget, the liberals have promised investments of $ 90 million to better assist victims of domestic violence with the creation of new places in accommodation centres.
The federal minister for the status of women, Patty Hajdu, is also working on a national strategy to combat inequalities based on gender, in collaboration with the provinces.