Earlier this afternoon, members of Parliament, on both sides of the House, rose to speak on M-312, MP Stephen Woodworth's motion to start a committee to update Canada criminal code on matters related the definition of a human being in light of contemporary science. The hour-long exchange was more balanced than its first hour of debate this past Spring; at that time, nearly all of the speakers spoke against the motion whereas today, I thought it was balanced. Below I include two statements from Mr. Woodworth's office - the first a press release and the second the MP's presentation. Also, as I viewed the proceedings live on CPAC, I presume the network will provide a video recording of today's exchanges shortly. (Mr. Woodworth's web site). Here's a link to a governmental site containing the transcription of the speeches. (B.J.)
Media Release - For Immediate Publication - September 21st, 2012
Motion 312: Woodworth’s Plea to MPs
OTTAWA, Ontario ? MP Stephen Woodworth today urged Members of Parliament not to shield Canada’s 400 year old definition of human being from democratic review or from advances in modern understanding.
“This law, by denying the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, is the most unimaginably unjust law possible and has no place in Canada” he said. “Parliament should not treat it as frozen in time forever.”
When challenged about abortion, Woodworth points out that even Justice Bertha Wilson, who championed abortion rights in the Morgentaler decision, wrote that Parliament should review this question by “informing itself from the relevant disciplines,” the very proposal embodied in Motion 312.
“I’ve heard that some Members of Parliament are wrestling with their consciences over Motion 312,” Woodworth remarks. “I say give in to your conscience; you are only useful to your Leader, your Party, and your constituents when you bring your conscience and your ideals to your decisions.”
Limited by Parliamentary rules to five minutes, Woodworth’s closing remarks are attached. (see below.)
The vote on Motion 312 is expected on Wednesday, September 26, 2012. To view the proceedings, please tune in to your local CPAC television channel or visit www.cpac.ca for a live podcast.
Closing Remarks – S. Woodworth
2nd Hour of Debate – Motion 312 - September 21st, 2012
Mr. Speaker, our great democracy was founded on the promise that two founding nations in conflict could reconcile their differences peaceably. Generations of Canadians have lived - and died – to defend the dream of universal human rights and honest laws so necessary to fulfill that promise.
These ideals created unity out of diversity and made Canada a bright beacon of hope.
The sweep of history for 400 years has brought ever greater recognition of the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. That bedrock foundation anchors Canada’s essential character.
We are here in Parliament to honour that vision of Canada. We are here to seek out a spirit of compromise amid passionate debate. We are here to embrace advancing knowledge in the service of universal human rights.
Motion 312 honours those essential duties. Motion 312 seeks merely to shine the light of 21st century knowledge upon our 400 year old law which decrees the dehumanization and exclusion of a whole class of people, children before complete birth.
About abortion, I say this: recognizing children as human before the moment of complete birth will not resolve that issue.
Even Justice Bertha Wilson, who championed abortion rights in the Morgentaler decision, wrote that Parliament should “inform itself from the relevant disciplines”, the very proposal embodied in Motion 312.
Recognizing the reality that children are human beings before complete birth will affirm the hallowed principle that human rights are universal, not a gift of the State which may be cancelled by subsection 223(1).
It would be a triumph of leadership to insist that our definition of human being must not remain frozen in time forever, immune from the light of advancing knowledge, immune from democratic governance, and immune from the spirit of open dialogue.
It would honour our commitment to honest laws to recognize a child’s worth and dignity as a human being before the moment of complete birth if the evidence establishes that as fact.
It would fulfil our shared vision of Canada to allow, despite extreme and intransigent opposition, a mere study about human rights even if modern evidence might cause some to question our laws.
Or will Parliament reject those Canadian ideals? Is THAT what Parliament has come to?
I thank, and many Canadians thank, the Members who stand with me against that dismal view.
Yet we in Parliament cannot ourselves sustain - we cannot protect – we cannot without help safeguard – this great vision of Canada. The hope of a Canada governed by honest laws rests in the heart of every Canadian. The pledge offered by countless Canadians to the high principle of universal human rights will not be overcome by any decision of this Parliament. We may safely place our confidence in the certainty that Canadians will not rest content with the perpetual absence of open dialogue on this issue.
There is no more noble undertaking than to fulfill that essential promise of Canada. Join me in the conversation so necessary to reconcile Canadians.
OTTAWA, Ontario ― MP Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre this week made clear his hopes for Motion 312. Motion 312 proposes a 21st century look at Canada’s current 400 year old definition of human being. In preparation for the 2nd hour of debate and final vote, he is making a final plea to all supporters of Motion 312 to make their views known.
In meeting with journalists, Woodworth delivered a passionate argument identifying important questions he would like Canadians to address.
“Should such an important 400 year old law be frozen in time forever? Should such an important 400 year old law be forever immune from democratic review? Should a 400 year old definition of human being be forever immune from advances in modern understanding?. These are questions that need to be addressed by all, including opponents of Motion 312” said Woodworth.
Woodworth hopes for a constructive second hour of debate following seven months of preparation including dozens of interviews and speaking engagements.
“Although there is significant support among MPs for Motion 312, it does not yet approach 50%. Consequently I’m keeping up my efforts, and ask others to do so too” said Woodworth. “Tens of thousands of Canadians have expressed their support for Motion 312 and I hope that this support will also be reflected in Parliament at the vote.”
The second hour of debate on Motion 312 will occur on Friday, September 21st, 2012 at 1:30p.m. followed by a final vote on Wednesday, September 26th, 2012. Woodworth also encourages Canadians to visit his website at www.stephenwoodworth.ca for more information about Motion 312.
For more information:
Office of Stephen Woodworth, MP
At the beginning of October, the Quebec Life Coalition is privileged to welcome the Honourable Mr. Stephen Woodworth. The Member for Parliament for Kitchener Center will be providing the keynote address at our annual congress on October 6. Below you will find some background information regarding his pro-life work in Parliament. It is provided by the archdiocese of Toronto. Enjoy.
In our political system in Canada, many proposed laws (bills/motions, etc.) are prepared and crafted for consideration. They help shape the country that we are, guide how our nation is governed and illustrate the way of life that Canadians are known for around the world.
Most pieces of legislation are presented by a governing political party. Some are supported across party lines and votes take place to determine whether such a proposal will become law.
Private members bills have a very different trajectory. Proposed by a single member of a party not part of the cabinet, they are often not approved or endorsed by fellow members of the party. They very rarely pass into law yet provide an opportunity for elected members to bring forward ideas for discussion and dialogue.
When it comes to pro-life legislation in Canada, all mainstream parties identify the issue as a political hot potato and steer clear of it in general terms. It's an interesting contrast to the American political system where the discussion around abortion and right to life was front and centre in recent Republican and Democratic conventions in very different ways.
Motion 312 is currently before Canada's Parliament, tabled by Kitchener-Center Member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth. It's defined as "studying Canada's definition of a human being." If you read the motion, it's a relatively straight forward proposal, asking for a review of Canada's Criminal Code that states a child becomes a human being only at the moment of birth.
As Catholics, we firmly believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Yet our criminal code seems to suggest otherwise. Motion 312 provides an opportunity for us to affirm that belief, to dialogue with our elected representatives and respectfully express our views to them.
There are many within the Catholic community, people of other faiths and no faith at all that have been working on life issues for decades, trying to re-open the debate and determine the best way to move pro-life legislation forward in our country.
While not prepared by the Archdiocese of Toronto, some facts and background information on Motion 312 have been prepared by concerned Catholics. Below you'll find some of this information along with suggestions on how to voice your opinion to your local MP (thanks to Diana Reynolds for sending the resources along).
In an increasingly secular environment, it takes real courage for politicians to table legislation that promotes life at all stages. It's certainly not for political gain. Quite the opposite. They are often ridiculed or stereotyped, sometimes relegated to the back benches and dismissed as radical, divisive or trying to push their morality as part of an "agenda".
It's time we start having the discussion. Every one of us was carried in the womb until our birth. We didn't have a voice then. We have one now. Let's use it.
Motion 312 - When Am I Human?
What is Motion 312 about?
Motion 312 calls for the creation of a special committee in the Parliament to review the definition in Canadian law that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth.
Section 223 of the Criminal Code of Canada uses a definition of human being which is at least 400 years old. Canada borrowed this law from British common law, where it can be dated back to as early as 1642.
Section 223 (1) of the Criminal Code states that "a child becomes a human being when it has fully proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother..." Therefore if a toe is still left in the birth canal, that child is not considered a human being yet and therefore has no human rights in Canada.
Apart from a declining number of US States, only three other countries in the world now share Canada's refusal to recognize or protect the interests of children as human beings until the moment of complete birth: China, Vietnam, and North Korea. The Motion is scheduled for parliamentary debate on Friday September 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm ET and the final vote will be held on Wednesday September 26, 2012. Both the debate and the vote can be viewed on your local CPAC television channel or by visiting www.cpac.ca for a live podcast.
Where Can I Learn More About Motion 312?
Kitchener Centre MP (Federal) Stephen Woodworth introduced Motion 312. Please see his website for the full text of the Motion: http://www.stephenwoodworth.ca/canadas-400-year-old-definition-of-human-being/motion-312.
Since abortion was decriminalized in Canada, over 3 million abortions have been performed. Almost 1 in every 4 pregnancies in the country ends in abortion. For more information about abortion in Canada see: http://www.campaignlifecoalition.com/shared/media/editor/file/AbortionFactSheet-CLC.pdf.
How Can I Support the Motion?
If you would like to see ‘human being’ defined according to current medical evidence, make your voices heard before September 26th. To support Motion 312, you can:
Sign a petition and collect signatures
Print out a copy of the petition form at: http://weneedalaw.ca/images/woodworth.pdf.
Completed petitions should be submitted to your Member of Parliament (MP) or to Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth.
Meet with your Member of Parliament to express your views
Approaching your MP may seem daunting. Consider these tips and discussion points for the meeting: http://weneedalaw.ca/index.php/resources/tipsforaproductivevisitwithyoump.
Write a letter to your Member of Parliament
Create your own letter or use a template. For ideas about what to write, see sample letters at the following websites:
Letters can be sent to your MP, the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister. Mail can be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament at the House of Commons address:
Name of Member of Parliament, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6
Not sure who is the Member of Parliament for your riding?
You can search by postal code, using this government website: http://parl.gc.ca/ParlInfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPostalCod....
Debate on Stephen Woodworth's motion, M-312, has been postponed from this Thursday until a later time, possibly this Fall.
CBC's Kady O'Malley reports that Mr. Woodworth traded spots in the queue with a fellow MP.
As of yesterday, M-312 was scheduled to come up for a final hour of debate on Thursday afternoon, with a vote to be held next Wednesday, but it appears that Woodworth did a last minute swap with Liberal MP Scott Brison, and is now 14th on the precedence list. With just 12 sitting days remaining before the House is scheduled to rise for the summer break, will almost certainly put his motion on ice until the fall.
Ms. O'Malley opines that the member of Parliament for Kitchener-Centre "hopes to spend the summer shoring up support for the motion, and combat the chilling effect of pressure reportedly being brought to bear against caucus colleagues sympathetic to his cause by no less powerful an adversary than the Prime Minister's Office."
The second of these comments refers to the lack of support Mr. Woodworth has received from the Prime Minister. The latter's whip, Mr. Gordon O'Connor, came out strong against M-312 during the first hour of debate this past Thursday, April 26, 2012.
Daniel Proussalidis, journalist with the Quebecor news giant, filing before the announcement of M-312's postponement, writes about the pressure Mr. Woodworth and like-minded tories may be under from the PMO.
In a release from Mr. Woodworth, he cites the ailing health of his mother, who hasn't eaten in five days, and his desire to be with her, as reason for postponing the second hour of debate.
I received the following came in earlier today.
Immediate Action Needed
This Thursday, June 7th, the 2nd hour of debate on Motion 312 will be occuring in Parliament.
Please take 5 minutes right now and call your MP to stress the importance of this motion.
There is no time to send letters. Please call them directly!
But what if I'm not into politics?
Don't worry. You don't have to have political savy to express the importance of voting in favour of this motion. It's as easy as 1,2,3!
1. Introduce yourself as a member of their riding.
2. Ask your MP if they plans to vote in favor of this critical motion (Motion 312)
3. Ensure you stress that as a constituent in their riding, you expect that your voice will be heard through their vote.
A little background:
Mr. Stephen Woodworth, (the MP bringing this motion to Parliament) is simply requesting a special committee to look at the 400-year-old law that currently defines a human life (a life worthy of rights) to begin at the moment of complete birth. Voting against this motion is denying a fundament aspects of democracy - debate.
Please don't wait to call. Our MP's MUST know we care!
Thanks for your time and dedication to this cause.
Executive Director Alberta Pro-Life
(The exercise took me ten minutes, tops. First, the provided link brought to a site that, by entering my postal code, allowed me identify my MP - the Honourable Stephane Dion.
Next, on this page, I noted the phone numbers and email addresses for both the riding and parliamentary offices.
Then, I phoned both numbers, expressing my views in each instance to an office aide as per the below instructions.
Finally, further to the suggestion of one of the aides with whom I spoke, I emailed Mr. Dion my views. Your turn!)
This just in: Motion 312's second hour of debate for is set for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 7th, 2012.
Recall that this past Fall, 2011, Mr. Stephen Woodworth tabled a motion - C-312, that a multi-party committee be established to update a section of Canada's Criminal Code founded on 17th century science.
On Thursday, March 22, 2012, motion 312 was debated for an hour in the House of Commons with a second hour to follow. During the session, Mr. Woodworth argued that the law needs to be revised in order to better reflect advances in medecine.
Yesterday, we received a correspondance from Mr. Woodworth, reproduced below, informing us of the date and time for the second hour of debate.
Action Alert: Also as you read through the letter, note the MP's request for your assistance.
On June 7th, the debate will broadcasted lived on CPAC - www.cpac.ca.
For background information regarding Mr. Stephen Woodworth's motion, see his website.
Firstly, I’d like to start by thanking you for all of your efforts to date with regards to my Motion 312. Your support is greatly appreciated. As we quickly approach the 2nd hour of debate (currently scheduled for June 7th, 2012 at 5:30p.m.) as well as a vote to follow on June 13th (in the evening) it is more important than ever that we continue with the momentum generated so far and re-double our efforts.
Any assistance you can provide in encouraging Canadians to contact their respective MPs and urge their support would be a tremendous help.
I am greatly impressed by the efforts I have seen so far and I hope I can count upon your continued assistance during this crucial time. Once again, thank you for all of your support thus far – it has been vital in advancing the Motion.
Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament, Kitchener Centre
I received the following email from R.E.A.L. Women of Canada. (The acronym stands for Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life.)
On the one hand, it summarizes the parliamentary debate about Mr. Woodworth's motion - C-312, this past Thursday, April 26, 2012.
On the other hand, it requests us to act. This non-partisan and non-denominational group is encouraging Canadians to write the Prime Minister to let him know that you support the motion.
It also suggests that we contact your Member of Parliament - MP.
I mailed a similar letter to both and, within days, I heard back from my MP - Honourable Stéphane Dion, but not the PM.
I encourage you to do likewise. Let me know what results you have had.
Here's a copy of the correspondance from REAL Women of Canada:
MP Stephen Woodworth Motion M-312 on Abortion MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre) proposed in Motion M-312 that Parliament study when human life begins, by reviewing Section 223 of the Criminal Code, which provides the child becomes a human being once he or she is fully proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother.
In his Motion, Mr. Woodworth has proposed that a Parliamentary Committee be established to carry out this review of Section 223 which was included in the Canadian Criminal Code when it was passed into law in 1892. Section 223 was based on the English Draft Code of 1878, which in turn, was based on judge-made law (common law) decisions handed down in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At that time it was necessary to decide when human life begins in order to determine whether a charge of murder could be laid on the death of a child. This definition then was based on the limited knowledge and standards of those previous centuries.
Modern science and technology have enormously broadened our knowledge of human life and development in the womb from that of the previous centuries. It is only reasonable, therefore, that a review of Section 223 of the Criminal Code should be carried out at this time in order to update the provision to conform to the present medical and technological knowledge.
Mr. Woodworth’s motion was given its first hour of debate on April 26, 2012. Prior to the debate that same day, during Question Period, Prime Minister Harper stated that he would vote against the bill and further stated, that it was unfortunate that the House of Commons committee had selected the Motion as being a votable one.
Conservative House Leader Gordon O’Connor spoke against the motion as did most of those speaking during that hour of debate. Opposition NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Bob Rae, spoke against the motion.
Outside Parliament during the debate, approximately 50 pro-abortion activists demonstrated against the Motion. Their demonstration received large media coverage from CTV, CBC, and Global Networks as well as the National Post, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star. It is notable that the latter media have studiously avoided coverage of the 15,000 + people rallying in front of Parliament during the annual March for Life event.
Another hour’s debate on the motion will take place possibly in early June or September 2012.
It is important that the Prime Minister and MP’s hear from the public about the importance of this Motion. It must not be shut down by a biased media and the pro-abortion activists, who do not want a debate on the critical issue of abortion in Canada.
Please contact the Prime Minister and your MP urging their support of Motion M-312.
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Office of the PM House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 (Fax: 613-941-6900 E-Mail: Stephen.Harper@parl.gc.ca)
Your MP, House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
Today, as I hear Stephen Woodworth's call to reassess section 223 of the Criminal Code of Canada, I draw strength from the popular saying “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” According to section 223 of the Code, (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, whether or not (a) it has breathed; (b) it has an independent circulation; or (c) the navel string is severed.
Do not be ashamed if you were unaware of this absurd definition of human existence- it is likely a discovery for many of us, and thanks to Stephen Woodworth, some light will be shed on this important, urgent issue.
Now, for all the pro-choicers out there, your first reaction at Woodworth's proposal may be scorn and anger...how could he bring up abortion again? Doesn't he get it? The abortion debate is closed, and we won it!
Although it is my firm belief that abortion is a most heinous crime that steals lives everyday, that is not Woodworth's point. Irrespective of faith, politics, or culture, the question at stake here is one that everyone must grapple with: What constitutes a human being? To the pro-choice side, Woodworth may look like a pro-life stinker, but he is nonetheless right in contesting our current definition of when a "child" becomes human.
Let us refer back to section 223. If a child only becomes human when it has completely left its mother's body, then it would be legally permissible to choke a child to death upon the first breath it takes when exiting the womb as long as his lower body is still stuck in his mother's abdomen. Agreed? Of course not! This definition is absurd because it doesn't line up with our most basic intuitions.
But let's get to the root of the issue: are the unborn human or not? Imagine a world where babies were born minutes after being conceived...you know that this tiny organism will grow into a beautiful baby as long as you place it into a warm cave full of nutrients and protection. Would anyone dare to argue that this tiny being would fail to become a child and then an adult? The problem with the current legal definition of a human being is that it is deceitful; it evades responsibility from protecting human life. In short, this bad legislation just soothes the consciences of pro-choicers by masking the truth. If the unborn child were properly referred to as human, then abortionists would have to refer to themselves as murderers- and a country like Canada would have to admit to the legalization of the destruction of human life.
It is not the first time in history that we undermine the value of human life. During the era of American Slavery, African American people were not given their full rights; they were treated as property to be sold and bought. In those times, slavery was not viewed as the injustice it is. So why are we making the same mistake again? Why are we treating human beings (the unborn) like property to be marginalized and sold in the service of our own ends? The answer is simply that we have the ability to kill unborn children...but it is not because we have the capacity to do something that we are allowed to do it.
To say that the unborn child is not human till he leaves the mother's womb is a lie. It is a pervasive lie that has diseased the minds of many. I urge you to listen attentively to Woodworth's proposition; though he may seem to have his own political agenda, he is opening a debate that should concern us all.
We at Quebec Life Coalition warmly welcome the steps taken by the Honourable Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, Mr. Stephen Woodworth, to introduce into parliament a private member’s bill to re-examine the status of the unborn child as defined in section 223 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
We agree with his press release of December 21, 2011, in which he mentions that the Criminal Code definition of “human” is based on a 400-year old statute. This clearly inadequately reflects 21st medical science regarding fetal development and laws based thereon need to be rewritten.
We also agree with Honorable Stephen Woodworth’s statements made in a February 6, 2012, press conference in which he stated that parliament needs to consider the principles which govern the human rights of the child in the womb in light of 21st century science.
Moreover, medical science is corroborating the harm that abortion is having on our society. First, a growing number of studies are showing how women are being maimed physically, emotionally and psychologically after having undergone an abortion. Second, science is also revealing how the infant in later stages of development suffers too in the moments prior to its death at the hands of the abortionist.
Hence, we welcome the proposal from the Honourable member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre that the House re-examine the status of the unborn in the light of contemporary medicine and ethics.