Write to your MP to Oppose Motion 312

Tuesday, November 30 1999

Below is a sample letter you can email to your Member of Parliament to oppose Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth?s M-312: Women Can?t Be Trusted. If successful, the motion would convene a special Parliamentary committee made up mostly of Conservative MPs to review the definition of a "human being" in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which states that "A child becomes a human being when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother. The motion is an attempt to extend legal rights and personhood to fetuses, which is why Canadian women have nicknamed the bill "Women Can't Be Trusted." The motion is scheduled for one hour of debate in Parliament on April 26, with another hour of debate and a vote in late spring or early fall.

You can copy and paste the following sample letter into an email or your word processing program. Feel free to edit the letter or write your own. You can use our Counter Arguments document to help. Alternatively, there is another sample letter here (longer) that an ARCC Board member has posted on her blog.

Also, please visit your MP to register your opposition to the motion. You can give them a copy of our Counter Arguments against the motion.

Dear _______

I'm writing to ask you to please speak out in Parliament against Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth?s motion M-312, which women in Canada have aptly named the "Women Can?t Be Trusted? motion." It is scheduled for debate on April 26.

I?m very disturbed that once again, women?s fundamental human rights are up for debate in Parliament. The ?Women Can?t Be Trusted? motion calls for a special parliamentary committee to examine whether the Criminal Code definition of when a child becomes a ?human being? should be changed to extend legal personhood to fetuses. But if that were to happen, it would ironically remove women?s rights as full human beings, and possibly even criminalize their decision-making during pregnancy.

The sole intent of this motion is to make it legally possible to re-criminalize abortion. But this is a settled legal issue in Canada. M-312 is a waste of time and taxpayer money because the issues it raises have already been answered by Canada?s Supreme Court (including in Tremblay v. Daigle, Dobson v. Dobson, Winnipeg Child & Family Services v. Ms.G.D.F., Borowski v. Attorney General of Canada, and R. v. Morgentaler.) The law has always treated a pregnant woman and her fetus as one person. The courts have stated that the intimate connection between a woman and her fetus cannot be considered in isolation, and that giving rights to fetuses would impose a duty of care on a pregnant woman that would result in extensive and unacceptable intrusions into her bodily integrity, privacy, and autonomy.

Not only would fetal personhood seriously undermine the constitutional rights of women who need abortions, but also the rights of any pregnant woman. That?s because it would invite the prosecution of pregnant women for any perceived harm to fetuses by creating confusion around how child welfare laws and policies apply to fetuses as legal persons. In the U.S., hundreds of women have been prosecuted because of so-called ?fetal homicide? laws and thousands more have been subjected to punitive and counterproductive child welfare interventions that treat what women do or experience during pregnancy as evidence of child neglect or abuse.

Please don?t let Canada start down the same vindictive road as the U.S. Canadian women must not lose their rights when they become pregnant! I urge you to please vote against this dangerous ?Women Can?t Be Trusted? motion when it comes to a vote in late spring or early fall.

Thank you very much,


Find your MP at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC


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