National Abortion Federation Opposes C-484

Today we issued the following statement concerning proposed legislation in Canada:

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) opposes C-484. On its face, this bill creates a new crime of causing injury to or the death of a foetus. The dangerous reality of the bill, however, is that it could elevate the legal status of the foetus to that of an adult human being. This is unprecedented in Canadian law. The involuntary loss of a pregnancy is a tragedy, but solutions should be real, not political. Bill C-484 is not the right solution.

This bill elevates the foetus – even an embryo only weeks old – to a status equal with that of the adult woman who suffers the primary injury to her body, along with the additional harm of losing or damaging her pregnancy.

By recognizing a developing foetus as a victim of a crime, this legislation could erode Canadian women’s right to a safe and legal abortion by treading closer to the line of recognizing fetal personhood, a concept clearly at odds with existing Canadian law. Such a law could create tension with numerous Supreme Court rulings finding that a person must be born to have legal status in Canada.

The sponsor of this legislation claims that this bill is not about abortion because it exempts legal abortions, some medical treatment, and the conduct of women. But, it is impossible to separate this proposed legislation from its sponsor, a known opponent of legal abortion.

Nowhere in the bill is the harm to the woman resulting from an involuntary termination of her pregnancy mentioned. Violence against women continues to be a significant problem in Canada, and violence often increases when a woman is pregnant. Instead of focusing on real solutions to violence against women, the bill deliberately shifts the focus away from the women who are truly the victims of these heinous crimes.

NAF fully supports a woman’s right to choose to carry a pregnancy to term. Because this bill does nothing to protect women and because its possible consequences include casting doubt over well-established Canadian law, NAF opposes C-484. We believe that the Canadian government should adopt a more reasoned approach that would protect women from violence and offer concrete solutions to the problem of violence against women.

Therefore, NAF calls on the Federal Government to increase funding to programs for the prevention of violence against women. We further ask the Government to eliminate the restrictions they have put in place on research and advocacy groups requesting funding for issues relating to violence against women.

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