Mr. Speaker, I would also like to add to the debate by saying that all parliamentarians must keep in mind that our colleague's bill is unconstitutional. Regardless of whether one is for or against abortion, at the moment, that is the state of the law. The Supreme Court has handed down decisions and it is not possible—it is not within a parliamentarian's prerogative—to change that through a private member's bill. Of course, our colleague has the right to a debate on his bill, but we must nevertheless keep in mind that this bill is unconstitutional.
Why is it unconstitutional? Because the state of the law indicates that the first rule in right-to-life issues is that a fetus is not a human being until it is out of the womb, has drawn its first breath, and is deemed living and viable. That is the legal situation; that is what the Supreme Court has said. And what the Court has said is in line with the definition in section 223 of the Criminal Code.
Naturally, we can review the history, recall the battles fought. Nevertheless—and I invite all parliamentarians to be seized of this reality—section 223 of the Criminal Code states and declares as follows:
223. (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother,
As an aside, in jurisprudence “proceeded in a living state” means that the first breath has been drawn.
—whether or not (b)it has an independent circulation;
whether or not (c) the navel string is severed.
That is the position of the law. It is not possible for a member of parliament, no matter what his or her beliefs, to table a bill that is not compatible with the provisions of the Criminal Code, which are based on a ruling made after the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was proclaimed.
Let us look at the history of abortion in Canada. In 1969, the provisions of the Criminal Code were slightly different in their approach. The 1969 provisions criminalized abortion, except in cases where approved by a therapeutic committee comprised of three doctors. There have been provisions dealing with abortion since 1777, even before the Criminal Code came into being. Since the 18th century, we have followed the practices of Great Britain and those found in common law. Since 1777, provisions have protected what we would call today the sacred nature of life.
In 1969, a legislative decision has continued to prohibit abortion, which is punishable—