Unborn Victims of Crime Bill Introduced [Action Item]
Update> This bill has passed its first vote in Parliament and is now before the Justice Committee for further analysis.
Press Release – Nov 21, 2007 – Ottawa – Ken Epp, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park, introduced in the House of Commons today a Private Members Bill that would allow criminal charges to be laid in the death or injury of an unborn child when the child’s mother is the victim of a crime.
“This is all about protecting the choice of a woman to give birth to her child,” said Mr. Epp. “It is about condemning the actions of those who would take it upon themselves to criminally assault a pregnant woman and the child she wants and loves, destroying that child against her will.”
Known as the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, Bill C-484 is a response to repeated calls from the families of murdered pregnant women—and from the public at large— to recognize unborn children as crime victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers.
“Having heard the heart-rending stories of the families of the victims, I am absolutely convinced that this is an issue which cannot be swept aside,” Mr. Epp said. “How do you tell these grieving families that the child they loved and lost never even existed in the eyes of the law? My Unborn Victims of Crime bill addresses this grave injustice, and I encourage all my Colleagues from all parties to support this bill when it comes up for a vote in the House.” -30-
For More Information, contact
Ken Epp, (613) 995-3611 or (780) 467-4944
Or visit www.kenepp.com
Important Facts about
Unborn Victims of Crime legislation
(November 21, 2007)
[Included with press release]
- Canada is unique in the democratic world for having virtually no legal protection for children before they are born. This legislation seeks to address this injustice by creating an offence for injuring or causing the death of an unborn child during the commission of an offence against the child’s pregnant mother.
- An Environics poll released in October 2007 found that 72% of Canadians—75% of women—would support “legislation making it a separate crime to injure or kill a foetus during an attack on the mother.” 
- Even among those Canadians who support unrestricted abortion for the full nine months of pregnancy, 55% support “legislation making it a separate crime to injure or kill a foetus during an attack on the mother.”
- This type of legislation is supported across party lines: 77% of Conservative supporters, 71% of Liberal, 71% of the Bloc Quebecois, 67% of the Green Party, and 66% of the NDP supporters are in favour of “legislation making it a separate crime to injure or kill a foetus during an attack on the mother.”
- A law that protects preborn children from acts of violence against their mothers is “pro-choice” in the sense that it protects a woman’s choice to bring her child to term safely, and it is “pro-life” because it protects the life of that child. It is an area of common ground between pro-choice people, pro-life people, and everyone in between. It is compassionate, humane, and just.
- Unborn victims of crime legislation is not about restricting elective abortions—it is about protecting children whose mothers have not chosen abortion—whose mothers have chosen life for their children.
Canadian law and the courts
- The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly said that any legal protection for unborn children must be decided by Parliament, not by the Courts. This legislation is an attempt by Parliament to do something the Supreme Court has repeatedly said is up to Parliament to do. 
- The Law Reform Commission of Canada which studied the issue of fetal rights recommended this type of law and concluded as follows:
…in extreme cases, i.e., those done against the mother’s will, foetal harm and destruction…cause harm to other people and they so seriously contravene fundamental values, i.e. respect for life and bodily security, as to be harmful to society. Thus a prima facie argument exists for criminalizing foetal harm and destruction committed without the consent of the mother. 
- The Assisted Human Reproduction Act makes it a criminal offence to destroy an in vitro embryo except in accordance with the regulations and a licence–regulations which will no doubt require consent of the biological parents of the embryo—what the Act calls the “donors.” Yet our same criminal law does not protect a woman’s unborn child from being killed by a third-party without her consent. This is inconsistent and sends mixed messages. Does human life have some inherent value or not?
Violence against pregnant women
- According to the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System, women abused during pregnancy were four times as likely as other abused women to report having experienced very serious violence, including being beaten up, choked, threatened with a gun/knife or sexually assaulted. It is very disturbing that when a woman is at her most vulnerable, she is at increased risk of attack. This bill will act as a strong deterrent to perpetrating violence against pregnant women.
- A study into the deaths of pregnant and recently pregnant women in Maryland led to the “disturbing finding that a pregnant or recently pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause.”
12. Researchers have found that the most common area of the body struck during pregnancy was the abdomen.  This suggests that those who attack pregnant woman are purposely targeting the fetus.
- When a person violently attacks a pregnant woman’s abdomen, not only the woman, but the child is also victimized. A review of the literature has found that “for the fetus, severe blunt trauma to a maternal abdomen has been shown to lead to spontaneous abortion, fetal death, placental abruption, preterm labour and delivery, and fetal injuries such as skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhage and bone fractures.”
- We give more legal protection to animals than we do to the human fetus (cruelty to animal laws, humane slaughter laws, etc.) What message are we sending to the woman when we refuse to recognize that the child growing inside of her is worthy of protection under the law? What message are we promoting about the value of human life?
 Environics poll commissioned by LifeCanada, October 2007, www.lifecanada.org/html/resources/polling/2007PollReport.pdf
 See: [R. v. Morgentaler] 1988; [Chantale Daigle v. Jean-Guy Tremblay] 1989; [Winnipeg Child and Family Services v. DFG] 1997
 “Crimes Against the Foetus,” Working Paper 58, The Law Reform Commission of Canada, 1989, p. 36.
 Assisted Human Reproduction Act, Section 10(3).
 “Physical Abuse During Pregnancy,” Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System, February 2004) See http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/rhs-ssg/factshts/abuseprg_e.html
 “Enhanced Surveillance for Pregnancy-Associated Mortality—Maryland, 1993-1998,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 285 No. 11, March 21, 2001.
 Physical Abuse in Pregnancy, ” D.E. Stewart and A. Cecutti , Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol. 149, Issue 9, 1993.)
 “Physical Abuse During Pregnancy,” Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System, February 2004.