MONTREAL - Quebec's medical specialists say a private member's bill that would make harming a fetus a crime is likely to outlaw abortions.

Gaetan Barrette, who heads the province's association of specialist doctors, criticized Bill C-484 for opening the door to recognizing the rights of a fetus.

The bill, tabled by Conservative MP Ken Epp, would amend the Criminal Code to allow separate charges to be laid in the death or injury of an unborn child when a pregnant woman is attacked.

It passed first reading last month with support from both Conservative and Liberal MPs.

Barrette, whose association rarely weighs in on policy debates, pointed out that the bill's supporters are already eyeing a court challenge to Canada's abortion laws.

He says the association wants to protect abortion doctors from possible lawsuits and avoid a return to back-alley abortions.

"It would be political insanity to go back to those conditions," Barrette said Tuesday. "If a politician can't see that, what point is there being a politician."