When Conservative backbencher MP Brad Trost introduced his controversial idea to reopen the abortion debate, Stephen Harper quickly came to the cameras and assured Canadians it wasn’t going to happen. It turns out that Conservative backbencher MP Stephen Woodworth has been allotted an hour of debate with a committee this spring and a second hour of debate this fall to review a law that comes short of defining unborn children as “human beings.”
“As you know, in our party, as in any broadly based party, there are people with a range of views on this issue,” Harper said on April 21 of last year. “But I think I’ve been very clear as party leader. … As long as I’m prime minister we are not reopening the abortion debate."
The special committee would review Section 223 of the Criminal code and determine whether the clause: “a human being . . . when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother” needs to be changed as Woodworth requests.
The section defines the homicide of a child to be when someone “causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.”
Woodworth argues that the definition is 400 years old and needs an update.
“If a child five minutes before birth can be defined as not a human being, then the question is who's next?” he argued.
Despite his party displaying no interest in reopening the debate, Woodworth will move forward and reopen it for them.
“The prime minister and justice minister have to speak for themselves. I don't take any issue with any statement that the government won't reopen this debate,” he said. “I'm acting as a private member.”
However, given the fact that Woodworth will have a chance to debate his topic and events will be allowed to unfold, PM Harper could quickly find himself where he promised he wouldn’t go: a debate on abortion. When Pandora’s box is opened, there’s no going back.
Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, will that end in 2012?