A private member's bill known as Cassie and Molly's law, named after Cassie Kaake, pictured, was defeated in the House of Commons Oct. 19. The bill would make it a crime to kill or injure an unborn child while committing a crime against the mother. Photo courtesy of Nancy Kaake via Facebook

Cassie and Molly’s Law defeated in Parliament

  • October 20, 2016

OTTAWA —A private member’s bill aimed at protecting pregnant women against violence went down to defeat in the House of Commons Oct. 19 by a 209-76 vote.

Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall’s Bill C-225, also known as Cassie and Molly’s Law, would have made it an additional crime to kill or injure an unborn child while committing a crime against the mother.

“Currently, a pregnant woman victimized by violent crime has no recourse if her pre-born child is also injured or killed in that crime,” said WeNeedaLaw.ca in a news release. “Justice is, at best, only half served, and our elected officials have voted to keep it that way.”

“This vote tells us that our Members of Parliament are unwilling to take a small step in increasing consequences for violence against women in Canada,” said WeNeedaLaw.ca director Mike Schouten. “They continue to ignore cries for justice and instead allow fear of the abortion discussion to colour their decisions regarding women’s health and safety.”

“Medical teams will fight to save premature babies, yet our criminal justice system will not take a stand against violence targeting pregnant women," he said. “This devalues the choice of the hundreds of thousands of women each year who desire to carry their child safely to term.”

“It was clear early in the debate that the Liberals and NDP feared this bill would infringe on abortion rights,” Schouten said, noting a legal opinion Wagantall sought about her bill indicated it would not.

Wagantall told the House during the second and final second reading debate Oct. 17 she had crafted the bill in response to the 2014 murder of Cassie Kaake. The Windsor, Ont., woman was only weeks from delivering her baby Molly, whom she chose to carry to term, when she was murdered.

“In Canada, there is no component in the Criminal Code to protect pregnant women from violence. This gap is leaving women vulnerable,” she said.

Wagantall said a number of groups such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime endorse her bill, and polls show nearly 70 per cent of Canadians support it.

“The new charges under Cassie and Molly's law would only apply when a person was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offence against a pregnant woman,” she said. “In addition, charges could only be applied when the offender had the knowledge that the female victim was pregnant.”

She rejected claims by opponents that the bill “could be a back door to limit a woman's access to abortion services.”

“This is untrue and entirely misleading to Canadians. Simply put, Cassie and Molly's law would only add new offences for existing crimes against a pregnant woman that resulted in injury or termination of her pregnancy,” she said. “Because this bill would only affect existing crimes, and abortion is not criminal, Cassie and Molly's law would have no impact on abortion services.”

RightNow, a new political-action prolife group led by Alissa Golob promised in a Facebook post to work tirelessly “to engage Canadians on how to effectively nominate and elect politicians who support this type of common-sense legislation so that next election, we elect enough politicians who will pass important bills like this one.”

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