Unborn Victims of Crime Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Ken Epp  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of March 5, 2008
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code by making it an offence to injure, cause the death of or attempt to cause the death of a child before or during its birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 5, 2008 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

JusticeOral Questions

April 3rd, 2008 / 2:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Status of Women passed a Bloc Québécois motion advising the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of its unequivocal opposition to Bill C-484, which undermines a woman's right to abortion.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages agree to take over where the committee left off and also approach the Minister of Justice, or will she abandon women once again?

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 3rd, 2008 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being able to present this petition before the last person to present. This petition today calls upon Parliament to enact legislation which would recognize unborn children as separate victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers, allowing two charges to be laid against the offender instead of just one. There are nearly 1,000 signatures on this petition and in polls we have seen clearly that 72% of Canadians support this important legislation, Bill C-484.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 3rd, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured today to present yet again over 1,500 names on a petition in support of my Bill C-484. These petitioners, recognizing that when a woman has chosen to have a child, the right and that child should not be taken away by violent means, ask Parliament to enact legislation that would make it a separate offence to cause the injury or death of an unborn child. Today's petition brings the number of petitioners' signatures in support of this bill to over 13,000.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 1st, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to again rise in the House to present more petitions on Bill C-484. This bill has immense support out there. Every day, I am getting a thousand or more names on petitions in support of the bill. This time, they come all the way from Kelowna to Kanata, from all points in between, and from points beyond.

I am very pleased to present this petition in which the petitioners ask that Parliament enact legislation to protect and recognize unborn children when the mother wants them. It is very clear to them what the meaning is. I hope parliamentarians pick up on that.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 31st, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add another large number of names with respect to Bill C-484. The petitioners, in this case 1,336 of them, are giving their support to this bill which proposes to give protection to the unborn child of a pregnant woman who wants to have that child and who is attacked and that choice is taken away from her.

The petitioners are from right across the country. There are even some from Balgonie, Saskatchewan this time. Many communities right across this country support this bill.

Status of WomenPrivate Members' Business

March 14th, 2008 / 1:40 p.m.
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NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support the motion presented by the member for London West. I know that she is very committed to women's equality and has fought for that. Therefore, I am pleased, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, to support her motion.

I am assuming that the motion will get support from all members of the House. As we know, because of the outcry that has happened across the country and because the Conservative government took out the mandate of equality from Status of Women Canada, it has now had to rethink its position.

Based on the massive opposition from women's organizations across the country, the minister responsible for the Status of Women has finally agreed that equality will go back into the mandate of the Status of Women.

Therefore, that is a victory and it is a victory for all of the women's organizations and members of the House who pushed back on the government and said that it was completely unacceptable that equality be taken out of the Status of Women mandate.

Having said that, I want to focus on what this issue of equality for Status of Women in Canada means. As we just celebrated International Women's Day, I think it is important to note that while we have won equality in a legal sense, equality in a real sense, day to day in terms of programs and services and the wage gap, and equality in terms of access to the law are still things that are being fought for.

For example, when we look at the wage gap that still exists in this country, the Canadian Labour Congress has produced excellent information that is really quite shocking. It shows us that women working full time all year still make only 70¢ for every $1 men earn. For racialized women it is even worse. It is 64¢. For aboriginal women it is 46¢. In fact, the gender pay gap in Canada is even bigger than the wage gap in the United States and that may surprise some people.

What was most shocking to me to learn from this information is that by age 51 women's average income in this country is only 41% of the average income for 51-year-old men. That is truly appalling to know that, after years of striving for women's equality, we are still so far behind.

We have further evidence of the struggle and what needs to be done by looking at the last federal budget. In fact, at the parliamentary committee on the Status of Women just a couple of days, March 13, Kathleen Lahey, who is a professor at the Faculty of Law at Queen's University, pointed out in her presentation that the only reference to women in the budget had to do with the fact that $20 million was allotted to the Status of Women to develop an action plan for women.

However, when we examine this, we find out that the $20 million that has been allocated in the Conservative budget is actually $4 million less than Status of Women Canada received in the year 2002-03.

Therefore, we are not even keeping pace with the cutbacks that have happened over a number of years in terms of this department fulfilling its responsibilities for the equality of women in Canada.

If we take that number of $20 million and apportion it out for the number of females in Canada, Professor Lahey pointed out that it amounted to $1.21 per woman and child in Canada. That is what women's equality is worth to the government in the budget. That is something that we find quite outrageous and one of the reasons that we voted against the budget.

Another benchmark to see whether or not we are actually meeting the goal of equality for women is to again look at the budget to see what is happening with some of the tax cuts. Again from the professor's analysis, corporate income tax rates have been established and the Conservative government, with the support of the Liberals, has rolled back corporate taxes. This means a loss of about $60 billion in public revenues. Professor Lahey points out that low income individuals, most of whom are women, now pay higher income tax rates than even large corporations.

So much for this gender analysis in the budget because when we strip it all away and look at the numbers, we can see the impacts of cuts and that the tax load is disproportionately being carried by women and in particular low income women.

The corporate income tax cuts “shift the overall tax burden onto low-income individuals at the same time they drain revenues needed to redress growing gender disparities”. That is from Professor Lahey's brief.

I believe that in passing this motion today we should see it as a step forward, but we should recognize that we have a huge struggle here in terms of attaining equality for all women in Canada. I am very proud to say that in the NDP we have a very strong action plan, “Fairness for Women”, which covers everything from political representation to violence against women, pay equity, programs and services, support for women, and child care.

These are the basics that we need to see happen. When we look at a federal budget, we see that there are some very basic choices made by any government when it brings in a budget. Clearly, in the last budget that we saw, those choices were made in favour of people who already have very significant resources. It was a budget that clearly said the government does not care about women in this country and is leaving them behind.

Like my colleague from the Bloc, I have to say that along with other women in this House I was truly dismayed that the private member's bill, Bill C-484, passed through this House a few days ago. We see this as an absolute attack on women's equality and on reproductive rights. It was a bill brought in by a Conservative backbencher. It is clearly a back door way of trying to unravel the decades of struggle for women's equality in this country, for reproductive rights and for choice on abortion. I know that from the emails and messages that I got from across the country, people could not believe that today we are still in this battle to uphold those rights.

Today we are debating this motion to insert the word “equality” in the mandate of the status of women department, and of course that is essential. It is symbolic. It is the whole essence of what that work is all about, but while we do that, and while I have no doubt that this motion will pass today, please let us be committed and understand the reality that women in this country, particularly low income women, immigrant women, racialized women, aboriginal women, and women with disabilities, are struggling for their lives. They are struggling for dignity. They are struggling to have the basic necessities of life, whether it is housing, education, a living income, access to programs and the legal system, and so on.

On behalf of the NDP, we are very pleased to support this motion. I want to congratulate the member for bringing it forward. It is an important motion. We want this Parliament to speak with one clear voice and say that women's equality must be part of the status of women program and mandate. It could not be otherwise. We could not let this go unchallenged. I am thankful to the member for bringing it forward.

However, let us be clear that we have many other struggles and issues to face to ensure that women's equality truly is living and breathing in this country.

Status of WomenPrivate Members' Business

March 14th, 2008 / 1:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was listening very carefully to the hon. Conservative member for Simcoe North and I must say that there is a big difference between what he says and what he does, as Status of Women Canada would certainly agree.

I would like to commend my colleague from Laval, who explained the Bloc Québécois position so well during the first hour of debate on this motion by the hon. member for London West, whom I would also like to congratulate for her motion on promoting the status of women, a motion that is totally non-partisan. I would like to congratulate both hon. members.

In the days following International Women's Day, I must say that it worries me deeply to sit in this Parliament under a Conservative government. I was elected almost four years ago and I have never had to make so many speeches to promote the status of women. This is unusual. I feel like the rug is being pulled out from under us.

It seems to me that this Conservative government is attacking the promotion of the status of women. Some attacks are obvious. The most obvious, of course, are the cuts made to Status of Women Canada, so that the organization would stop promoting the status of women. There have been many other attacks. The most recent is Bill C-484, introduced by a Conservative member, a legislative measure that greatly concerns me. The bill has to do with unborn victims of crime. Under the pretense of protecting fetuses and protecting women, it would give a legal status to the fetus. This could mean sending women to prison for having an abortion. It would turn back the clock on women's rights by decades.

I am surprised that, as I speak here today in 2008, I am forced to defend women's equality, to defend women's bodies and to tell men they must stop trying to legislate on women's bodies. They cannot simultaneously be a legal entity and have another legal entity inside them. That is schizophrenia. I say this jokingly, but I am really very worried.

As the labour critic, I would simply like to draw the House's attention to some of the elements in the Bloc Québécois platform that improve the living conditions of women working under federal jurisdiction. In Quebec, the status of women is not under threat as it is in this Parliament and working women have privileges not enjoyed by women working under federal jurisdiction. Among others, the anti-strikebreaker legislation significantly reduces the number of person days lost due to labour disputes. There is also the protective reassignment of pregnant women. If we truly wish to protect women and their unborn children, we must support this measure. It allows a woman working in a factory or workplace that is unhealthy for her or her fetus to leave her employment early and to be paid under the protective reassignment program, without affecting her maternity leave. That is what is currently happening at the federal level. That is what this Conservative government is forcing on all women working in the public service, in ports, airports or telecommunications.

In addition, women earn less than men. I have the statistics and I have provided them many times. I believe everyone is aware of this.

As I said earlier, the anti-strikebreaker legislation and protective reassignment are very important measures in support of working women.

I do not wish to take up too much time but I do wish to reiterate my concerns about this Conservative government that is causing the status of women to be eroded.

Unborn Victims of CrimeStatements by Members

March 14th, 2008 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, the public debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-484, is going very well. When people hear and understand the true purpose of my bill and are assured that it is targeted totally and directly to the pregnant woman who has chosen to give birth to her child, they agree that this legislation is urgently needed.

This bill would protect women because a person cannot get to the child without attacking the mother. Studies show that pregnant women are much more vulnerable to attack and the attacks are more vicious. My bill would protect them. A woman should not be left to stand alone in defence of her life and the life of her child.

Seventy-two per cent of Canadians support this legislation. Seventy-five per cent of women support it. Seventy-nine per cent of youth support it. Support crosses political lines, with the lowest level being at 66% for those who identify that they vote for the NDP. Every group has a majority of people in support of this legislation.

When a willing mother is having a wanted child, no one has the right to take that choice and the child that she wants away from her.

Bill C-484PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 13th, 2008 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, petitions keep roaring into this place in support of my bill, Bill C-484.

Thousands of petitioners believe that if a woman is purposefully pregnant and wants to have her child, she deserves the right of the law to protect that unborn child. They ask that we in this Parliament produce legislation to that effect, and, of course, my Bill C-484 would do that.

This is another group of some 800 petitioners, which brings the total number now that I have presented to over 10,000.

March 13th, 2008 / 9:05 a.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

I was getting to that point, Madam Chair.

I think this is a very good motion. I would also like to say that based on what we know about the impact of Bill C-484 on women and their right to choose, and how similar bills have been used against women in 37 states in the United States, it's incumbent upon all of us to become fully informed—and there's lots of information out there—and make sure our caucus colleagues have this information. It would seem to me that decisions made in ignorance are very faulty decisions, no matter how private and personal.

March 11th, 2008 / 10:55 a.m.
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Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Madam Chair, last week, when we voted on Bill C-484, I realized something, and I think that most of the women present here also realized the same thing.

For nearly six months, we have been the victims of a propaganda campaign regarding this bill. Mr. Epp has been sitting in Parliament since 1993. At that time, he was a member of the Reform Party. The members of the Reform Party have been trying to present a bill against abortion for a long time, by making people believe that this bill was meant to help and protect women. There is such legislation in 37 American states, where some women are currently reduced to performing abortions on themselves. If they are caught, they are jailed. Some women who are taking medication are also locked up because the medication can put the life of their fetus in jeopardy. There are other women who have substance abuse problems, and rather than sending them to drug treatment centres, they lock them up. We hear about such horror stories in those states.

I submit to everyone around this table that it is important to be informed on the impact of such legislation. Last week, if we voted, it was because everyone was not fully informed. We were so certain that such a bill could not be adopted. We could not believe that it would be adopted because 20 years ago, we decided that women were in charge of their own bodies. We did not want to believe that we had been caught with our pants down.

We must do our work and make sure that the bill does not pass. If it is carried, it would be a step backwards, not 20 years, but 50 or 60 years back, and there would be frightening tragedies.

March 11th, 2008 / 10:55 a.m.
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Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

The motion reads as follows:

That all the women of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women request the support of the women of their respective caucus, to denounce Bill C-484 and the dramatic consequences which it could have on the women of Quebec and Canada.

Status of WomenOral Questions

March 10th, 2008 / 2:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the president of the Quebec office of the Campaign Life Coalition, Luc Gagnon, said that Bill C-484 is a first step towards recriminalizing abortion.

Right-wing religious groups also applaud this initiative. The situation is worrisome, because the same strategy was used by the opponents of freedom of choice in the United States to have abortion criminalized.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages take action to defend the rights of women against such a possibility? That is her duty. Will she fulfill it?

Status of WomenOral Questions

March 7th, 2008 / 11:30 a.m.
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Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives may have their blinders on, but the women of Quebec and Canada do not.

The president of Quebec's Campaign Life Coalition, Luc Gagnon, has said that Bill C-484 is the first step towards recriminalizing abortion. Joyce Arthur, of the Abortion Rights Coalition, said that once a person is found guilty of murdering a fetus, the Supreme Court will use the verdict to determine that a fetus is a human being.

Will the minister listen to the Bloc's recommendations and convince her colleagues of the dangers of voting for such a bill?

International Women's DayStatements By Members

March 6th, 2008 / 2:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 8 is International Women's Day and will be celebrated this year with the theme, “Strong Women, Strong World”.

To mark the occasion, I would like to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion. Indeed, on January 28, 1988, in the Morgentaler decision, the Supreme Court declared section 251 of the Criminal Code unconstitutional because it infringed on women's rights to life, liberty and security.

This decision helped reduce the number of clandestine abortions, which were causing serious health problems for women, often even leading to women's deaths. Since the Morgentaler case, not a year goes by when the rights of women to exercise autonomy and free will are questioned, jeopardized, limited and even threatened. The Conservatives are the masters of this, as evidenced by Bill C-484.

Vigilance is crucial with this backward-thinking government that has no other wish than to see the rights of women take a step back, even though they are strong women for a strong world.