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 signaturesPrint 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 viewsApproaching 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 ParliamentCreate 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
House of Commons
· 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/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?PostalCode=N2H6R9&Submit=Find&Language=E.