MP Cathay Wagantall

Justice sought for pre-born murder victim

By 
  • May 12, 2019

OTTAWA - The family of murder victims Arianna Goberdhan and her pre-born daughter Asaara are looking for the public’s help in a new push to create a law that would mean an unborn child could be considered a murder victim.

On May 2, Arianna Goberdhan’s estranged husband Nicholas Baig of Pickering, Ont., was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 17 years for Arianna’s murder in April 2017, when she was nine months pregnant. Under Canadian law an unborn child is not considered a human person until after fully exiting the birth canal. 

Sherry Goberdhan, Arianna’s mother, has begun a petition (https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-2154) sponsored by Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall calling upon the House of Commons to pass legislation “that recognizes that, when an assailant in a commission of a crime attacks a pregnant woman and injures or kills her pre-born child, then the assailant may be charged with an offence on behalf of the pre-born child.”

Wagantall had previously sponsored Cassie and Molly’s Law, a private member’s bill C-255 that was defeated in 2017. That law was in honour of Cassie Kaake, who was seven months pregnant with her daughter Molly when they were murdered.

“I would say the impetus has been there to some degree across the whole nation since I last shared my private member’s bill C-255,” said Wagantall in an interview. “It’s still very much in the conscience of Canada.

“There is still a desire very much across the country that this is still an issue that needs to be addressed in the House of Commons,” said Wagantall. “We need to change our laws to reflect a woman’s right to choose to carry her child to term.”

Asaara was almost full-term when Baig stabbed her and her mother to death.

Goberdhan contacted Choice42, a new pro-life organization founded by Laura Klassen that has created a number of hard-hitting videos that have gone viral.

“He didn’t do it just to her but to his child as well,” Goberdhan said in a video posted at choice42.com. “For this law to say my granddaughter wasn’t a human being is so wrong. When we saw her five days after the fact, she was perfect.”

Goberdhan tells of how joyfully Arianna was expecting her daughter and how well she took care of herself during her pregnancy. But the family’s joyful expectation was crushed by the murders.

“When we saw her lying in her mother’s arms in the coffin, that image will be forever etched in my mind,” Goberdhan said. “It will be forever the baby I looked forward to holding.

“We have this petition going,” said Klassen. “We’re going to be pushing it hard, giving Cathay Wagantall lots of opportunity to bring it up in Parliament. It’s so frustrating this is the second case of this in such a short period of time after Molly’s Law.

“We’re at it again, full force,” Klassen said.  “We’re going to keep attention on this, because it’s not an issue that’s going away.”

An array of pro-life organizations is also rallying, including Campaign Life Coalition, the National Campus Life Network and Weneedalaw.ca.

Tabitha Ewert, legal counsel for Weneedalaw.ca, pointed out in a news release there were two murder victims in this case, but Baig only faced charges for one.

“This is a gap in the law that has very real consequences for families like the Goberdhans, who buried both a daughter and a granddaughter on the same day,” she said. “They know that justice will never be served as long as Asaara is not recognized as a victim by the law.

“A pre-born victims of crime law wouldn’t necessarily protect pre-born children, or even impact abortion in any way,” Ewert said. “What it would do is recognize and honour a woman’s choice to carry her child, and make a statement that we as a society believe she deserves to do that in safety.

“Arianna and Asaara were both victims of a terrible crime, and our justice system currently does not address this adequately.”

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