MP Maurice Vellacott Register file photo

MPs want investigation into possible homicide of babies born after botched abortions

  • February 4, 2013

OTTAWA - Three MPs have created a firestorm by asking the RCMP to investigate as possible homicides the deaths of late-term babies born alive as a result of botched abortions.

Initial news reports claimed erroneously the MPs were seeking investigations into all abortions after 19 weeks gestation. One of the signatories, MP Maurice Vellacott, said in an interview the letter has nothing to do with abortion, which he acknowledged is legal for the full nine months of pregnancy.

Instead, the MPs want the RCMP to investigate the deaths of infants who lived and breathed outside the mother for a period of time, said Vellacott. Under Section 223.2 of the Criminal Code it is a crime to “cause injury to a child before or during birth as a result of which the child dies after being born alive,” he said. “This is the law of Canada, the Criminal Code, not some law I wrote up.”

After babies are “out of the womb, living and breathing, at that point they have the full protection of the Criminal Code,” Vellacott stressed. “Do we not have common ground? Do we not agree a child has the full protection of the Criminal Code when they are born alive?”

Vellacott also said some reports have mischaracterized the deaths as infanticide. But infanticide has a restricted legal definition in Canada and can only be committed by the mother in the first year of the child’s life and allows for the mother’s psychological state to be a mitigating factor, the MP pointed out. The cases he wants investigated have more serious penalties under the Code.

The letter to the RCMP Commissioner from Vellacott, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon calls attention to public reports from the pro-life blogosphere indicating “the possibility of numerous breaches of the Criminal Code — to be specific homicides — in Canada. “

The Run with Life Blog reported data from Statistics Canada revealing 491 abortions of unborn babies of 20 weeks or more gestation resulted in live births from 2000-2009, the letter said. “This means the aborted child died after it was born.”

The letter also noted the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported 119 live birth abortions for 2010-2011, “which is an extremely troubling increase from previous years.”

“If the law is worth its salt, there has to be enforcement of the Criminal Code,” Vellacott said. “That’s what we’re asking them to do.”

The MP said he has no idea how the babies died, whether they were suffocated, strangled or, as reports from the United States about homicides where the baby’s spinal column was sliced open.

“That’s not a question for me but for the RCMP.”

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) reported the initial error of seeking investigations into all abortions to Canadian Press.

“The error was quite significant both factually and in terms of the impression it created,” said CCRL executive director Joanne McGarry. “It’s no secret the government has always said they don’t want to open the abortion issue. It’s unfortunate this story got put under the same umbrella.”

The letter clearly outlined narrow circumstances where the homicide provision applies, she said.

“It’s certainly a grisly business isn’t it?”


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