Controversial 'when life begins' motion likely won't pass, MP says
Published Monday, September 17, 2012 12:42PM EDT
Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth says he's "not optimistic" his private member's motion seeking a review of Canada's laws defining when a child is legally considered human will pass a vote in the House of Commons.
Woodworth made the comment as he updated reporters in Ottawa on the progress of his controversial Motion 312 Monday morning.
"At this point, I'm not optimistic that I'll come close to the 50 per cent required to pass the motion," he said, stopping short of detailing exactly how much support he has mustered so far.
When asked his view of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's public opposition to the motion, Woodworth was unfazed.
"I like the prime minister and I respect him," he said. "It would be an immature view of politics to think that because you like and admire someone you shouldn't disagree with them."
There has been a lot of disagreement since Woodworth introduced his motion last spring. Much of it, he said Monday, is based on broad misunderstandings of what he hopes to achieve.
Above all, Woodworth said, he wants to be clear that the motion seeks only to create a committee to review the legal definition of when a child becomes human. If passed, he said it would not make abortion illegal.
The Ontario MP said, "even deciding when a child should be considered a human being will not settle all the questions."
In that light, Woodworth said his motion will not directly affect current abortion laws, as it "proposes no legislation of any kind, only a study."
But, he continued, "maybe better information will cause Canadians to have second thoughts about abortion."
Woodworth tabled his motion last spring, seeking to establish a Commons committee charged with examining subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code that defines when a child legally becomes a human being.
That 400-year-old law, he said, singles out the moment of "complete birth" as the time a child is legally recognized as human.
"I'd like people to think about what that means," he implored.
"If, like most Canadians you've concluded that a child is a human being well before the moment of complete birth," Woodworth said, the current law "dehumanizes and excludes an entire class of people."
Likening such treatment to the experience of African-Americans during the slavery era, Woodworth said that amounts to an "assault on the principle of universal human rights."
Woodworth's motion will be up for its second hour of debate in the House of Commons on Friday, with a vote expected next Wednesday.