There is currently a bill being considered in our government, it's stated aim is to make it a crime "to injure, cause the death of or attempt to cause the death of a child before or during its birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother." And though Bill C-484 sounds quite common-sensical, it's substance is at odds with common scientific understanding.
First let me make clear the Conservatives are using untrue and false representations of the substance of this bill. Though C-484 does not directly affect the debate on making abortion illegal, it does affect the basis for it.
Consider the current law in Canada in this section of the Criminal Code of Canada:
238. (1) Every one who causes the death, in the act of birth, of any child that has not become a human being, in such a manner that, if the child were a human being, he would be guilty of murder, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.Now that current law allows for lawyers, judges, and juries to consider the devlopment of the fetus in determining punishment. For if in an attack was conducted on a woman who was 6 weeks pregnant, where the embryo is just a collection of cells, and was terminated as a result, the penalty would not be as grave as if it was a fetus that was 10 weeks and further developed.
This current law embodies the scientific fact that no one can identify the precise moment when a Unborn Human Child (UHC) becomes alive. Thus just as in the medical field, the legal stance is that becoming alive is a process, and thus the stages of development must be considered in making a judgement determining the degree of punishment.
However Bill C-484 disregards this scientific view of human life, and instead it states development stages do not matter and termination of the UHC at any stage deserves at minimum 10 years in jail. This is evident in the first section of C-484:
"238.1 (1) Every person who, directly or indirectly, causes the death of a child during birth or at any stage of development before birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother of the child, who the person knows or ought to know is pregnant,By stating in this new Bill, that if a person kills a woman at any stage of pregnancy that person would have an additional minimum 10 years added to their punishment, even if the UHC was in its embryonic stage and thus by most, if not all scientific accounts, not alive; this bill is saying that an embryo is just as much alive as an UHC that is 9 months old. With that conclusion, the implication of this Bill is that life then must begin at conception.
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10 years . . ."
The problem is, beyond the philosophical invalidity of that implication, Science would heavily disagree. It is impossible to suggest that an embyo, without a nervous system, without major organs, without any form of a developed brain, without any cognitive abilities whatsover is the same or has an equal claim at being alive as a 9 month old Unborn Human Child that has a nervous system, functioning and fully developed organs, a further developed brain, and elementry cognitive abilities.
In conclusion when one considers the scientific understanding of becoming alive as a process, and therefore the viability of Section 238(1) of the Criminal Code, it is evident that Bill C-484 is actually at odds with common scientifically held views and attempts to establish that life begins at conception which cannot be defended.