We were very respectful during the member's speech, so I would appreciate the same level of respect. We listened carefully to what he said, even though we sometimes found it hard to hear.
What the member is trying to do is involve us in what he calls a “conversation on the fetus”. Wow. When I was elected in 2011, if someone had told me that I would be here on April 26, 2012, having a “conversation on the fetus”, I would have asked what planet this was.
It is all based on a false premise. According to my colleague's basic premise, which is false, this provision is 400 years old. We are starting from certain comments that have been made.
It is like saying “thou shalt not kill” or something like that. Certainly, I could go back to the Old Testament and suggest we re-examine the issue of first degree murder, because that commandment has been around for so long and perhaps it is time we re-examined the concept.
However, it is even more false than that. We need to come back to the basics of his motion, which seeks to review the definition of subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code, which establishes when a child becomes a human being. According to the Criminal Code, which was created in 1892 and not in 1600:
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...
It is clear, within the meaning of the Criminal Code, that the child must be born alive. This has nothing to do with whether one is for or against abortion. It is in the homicide section of the Criminal Code.
At first I was not sure what the member wanted to do. I thought that perhaps he was sincere and that he wanted to form a committee—as though there were not enough of them—to hear from a multitude of leading scientists.
This is the first time that the Conservatives have shown an interest in anything scientific. It had to be something to do with the fetus and abortion or something that goes against women. Congratulations. Nonetheless, the Conservatives have decided that we will hear from a multitude of people working in medical science, who will talk to us about the fetus and show us different things.
The Conservatives pretend to be interested in the answers, in listening and hearing them. A committee usually hears both sides of the argument, but that is not the case here. Let us make no mistake. This is a direct attack on a woman's fundamental right to choose.
Whether you are for or against abortion, one fact remains and it is not 400 years old: the Morgentaler decision, the Daigle decision, in fact all decisions on various aspects of the issue gave a central place to a woman's inalienable rights concerning her body. The Conservatives really have a hard time accepting this concept. It is an aberration for them.
What we have to say is that it is fine if they do not like our views on this matter. But I do not wish to impose my views on anyone. They are mine alone. It is not my place to tell a pregnant woman what to do. Perhaps she was raped, but no matter what the reason is, it is none of our business. Perhaps the Conservative members would never resort to abortion. Good for them. I recognize that they have this right. But who are they, the men sitting opposite, to judge?
I use the word “men” because that is who I see in front of me. I do not mean it in a pejorative or sexist way. They can object as much as they want, but that is what I see before me. Ah, excuse me, I do see one woman, no, two women. That is excellent, lovely.
Having said that, it is not up to us to say what a pregnant woman should do. I would like to remind my colleagues opposite that case law has established that when a woman is pregnant, her fetus is a part of her body. I do not want to start lecturing about medicine and science, but it is part of her body. Often, the rights of one may be in conflict with the other's.
That is why I asked him the question. If my colleague had been smart, he would have said that he intended to wait for the committee's findings, and he would have won me over a little. But no, we know what he thinks. At least he has the courage of his convictions and was not afraid to say that he is categorically against abortion because he believes that a fetus is a fully fledged human being. Which is why he said, “a human being is a human being,” a phrase he trots out constantly at all his press conferences and elsewhere.
That is the definition that my colleague subscribes to. The problem is that section 223 of the Criminal Code stipulates that the fetus is not a human being. This definition makes sense.
Imagine what will happen. We will end up criminalizing abortion again. Think about it. If a child becomes a human being from the moment of its conception or two or three weeks thereafter, will someone in this chamber then turn around and say that we are going to kill a human being? No way. That is the problem. It will mean that we are once again criminalizing abortion, but it will not stop there.
Imagine the pregnant woman for a moment. For a government that claims that the state must be as small as possible, in its simplest form, in all senses of the term, imagine the government now taking an interest in the way in which a pregnant woman experiences motherhood and pregnancy.
If the fetus, a human being according to what the mover of M-312 tells us, is protected, and if we accept his theory, are we going to have to start delving into the lifestyle of a woman who has alcoholism or addiction problems, for example? We have a Charter of Rights. It may gall our friends opposite to no end, but thank heaven that we have this Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Sometimes, when I see this government, with its 39% of the votes cast by 62% of the electorate, telling us that this is what we have to do and trying to interfere in people’s lives, in how they live their lives, in what they believe in their innermost selves, in what affects them personally, it scares me to death.
I have talked with colleagues from every party. The even greater fallacy in their argument is when we come to the question of an abortion at eight or eight and a half months in a pregnancy. For heaven’s sake, the people listening to us have to know that under most of the protocols at all the various hospitals in the provinces, no one is performing great numbers of abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy. I will say again that this is a decision that must be made by the woman and her doctor. If there are any such abortions, it is often because there may be a medical problem for the pregnant woman, who could possibly die from it.
So let us stop scaring people and abide by the Charter and the decisions, not the ones made 400 years ago, but the ones made in 1988 and 1990 and 2000 and so on. Let us stop these constant attacks on the women of Canada.