Why doesn’t Canada have an Unborn Victims of Crime law?

By Mike Schouten

Cassandra Kaake was found bludgeoned to death. Her baby girl Molly was killed in the attack too.

Cassandra Kaake was found bludgeoned to death. Her baby girl Molly was killed in the attack too.

Canada has no legal protection for children before they are born. This means that when a pregnant woman is attacked in Canada and her assailant harms or kills her pre-born child, no charge can be laid in that child’s death even when the attacker purposely intended to harm or kill her child.

This failure in law needs to be corrected. A pre-born victims of crime law would address this injustice by creating an offence for injuring or causing the death of an unborn child during the commission of an offence against the child’s mother.

In 2007 Conservative MP Ken Epp introduced Bill C-484. The bill was called the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. At the time, Mr. Epp said in a statement to the press:

My Unborn Victims of Crime bill is about seeking justice for victims of crime no matter how old they might be. It’s the right thing to do, and the vast majority of Canadians agree. We must repair the gap in law which leaves a pregnant woman completely vulnerable to others who want to harm her baby. Women and their children deserve no less. And as just and compassionate Canadians, we can do no less.[1]

Mr. Epp’s bill passed Second Reading in Parliament but it failed to become law because an election was called in the fall of 2008. (When an election is called, all bills that have not yet been passed into law are cancelled.)

However, his bill had cross-party support and there is still majority support for it today. The reality is that when a pregnant woman is attacked and her assailant kills or causes harm to her pre-born child, no charge can be laid in the child’s death. This is fundamentally wrong; this legislative void allows further victimization of women and their children.

Even though there is broad support for addressing this injustice, there are shrill voices from a minority who seek to polarize the debate about pre-born victims of crime. In doing so they also paralyze political leadership to the point where victims’ rights continue to be disrespected and trampled on.

So, what is it they are saying? Why are they so opposed to seeing justice enacted for children taken away from women who have chosen to keep their babies?

Editor’s note. Mike Schouten is the director of the Canadian pro-life group WeNeedaLAW.ca. This appeared at weneedalaw.ca