For Immediate Release
August 26, 2008
(Ottawa) - “An orchestrated campaign against my Private Members Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, has now been followed by the government’s announcement that they will unveil new legislation that will include a victim’s pregnancy as an aggravating factor when judges consider sentencing offenders. The government is proposing this as an alternative to Bill C-484.
“In my view, it is unfortunate that they have made this decision. My Bill was carefully worded to ensure women’s freedom to choose abortion would be completely respected and physicians who perform abortions would be completely protected. What is disappointing is that the government appears to have bowed to pressure from a number of interest groups including abortion rights groups and some medical organizations.
“Abortion supporters welcomed the introduction in May of Liberal MP Brent St. Denis’ Private Members Bill, C-543, which appears to be very similar to what the government is now proposing. Indeed, such a law was actually suggested by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada last November. What I said when C-543 was introduced, I will say again: why have increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women if the not-yet-born baby doesn’t matter? Either that child matters so that attacks on pregnant women are more heinous, in which case Bill C-484 is a direct recognition of that reality; or that child doesn’t matter, in which case we don’t need any new law – the current provisions in the Criminal Code already cover the violence against the woman.
“The saddest thing of all is that the government Bill likely adds nothing that doesn’t already exist in law. My own legal advisors – and the Justice Department – have assured me that pregnancy is already deemed an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes, as part of our case law.
“By simply treating pregnancy as an aggravating factor without recognizing a second victim in the crime, we reinforce the offensive notion that the unborn child’s fate is irrelevant. But the child’s death is very relevant to the mother (and other family members) who want her baby to live. As Mary Talbot, mother of Olivia Talbot and grandmother of Lane Jr. told the media, ‘It’s two people who died that day…I certainly put two people in a coffin.’
“Does the Minister now tell Mary that, during the violent attack on Olivia and Lane Jr., her grandson was just an ‘aggravating factor’? That the brutal attack didn’t really lead to the death of Olivia’s not-yet-born but very much wanted baby boy? Lane Jr. was deliberately killed that day. At the trial, Olivia’s murderer told the court he shot Olivia in the abdomen ‘to get the baby.’
“I can’t imagine any pregnant woman feeling that justice has been served if the person who brutally and intentionally killed the baby in her womb simply gets a stiffer sentence for assaulting her, without being charged with a separate offence specifically for intentionally killing her child. What he did was wrong, not simply because she was pregnant, but because he intentionally killed her baby. The ‘alternative’ which the government is now proposing does not even recognize her baby’s death. It does not address the horrible loss and grieving that mother and her family feels. It’s just not good enough for a caring society like Canada.
“I know the critics of C-484 will continue to spread misinformation. But I continue to hope that thoughtful, everyday Canadians, not influenced by political agendas or strident ideology, will continue to support C-484 – and about 70% of Canadians do, including the vast majority of women across the country. I hope they will continue to contact their MPs, now more than ever, and encourage them to continue to support a compassionate and just response to the horrible loss experienced by pregnant women who lose their not-yet-born babies in a violent attack. And I hope, as a result, MPs, regardless of party affiliation, will have the courage to vote in favour of Bill C-484 at Third Reading.”
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For More Information, contact
Ken Epp, MP (780) 467-4944;
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