New bill addressing violence against women in Canada, introduced by MP who previously introduced Pre-born Victims of Crime bill

By We Need a Law

When a pregnant woman is a victim of violent crime, Canadian law is unable to account for her pre-born child in charging or sentencing a criminal.

“The Criminal Code states that babies are not recognized as ‘persons’ under the law until they are fully born,” said Anna Nienhuis, spokeswoman for We Need a Law, a national grassroots campaign advocating for legal protection for pre-born children. “As a result of our country’s hard pro-abortion stance, we cannot count any pre-born children as persons under the law, so pre-born victims of crime receive no justice from our criminal justice system.”

The Government of Canada and other sources acknowledge that pregnant women are at greater risk of intimate partner violence than other women. “These women and their pre-born children are uniquely vulnerable,” said Nienhuis, “yet our law offers them no additional protection and does not even recognize their child if it dies before birth as a result of a violent crime.”

Earlier yesterday Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall introduced a bill to try to change that.

Bill C-311, the Violence Against Pregnant Women Act, would instruct judges to consider pregnancy as an aggravating factor in sentencing, thereby considering any harm done to a pre-born child. This would be a step toward real justice for pregnant women and their children who are victims of violence.

More than 80 women in recent Canadian history have been assaulted or killed by an intimate partner, and had their pre-born child die as a result. None of those families had justice for both victims.

“In crimes against pregnant women, there are always two victims,” said Nienhuis. “We want the law to see them both.”

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