Groups sign declaration in support of Motion 312
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) — About 60 high-profile groups and individuals have signed a declaration in support of Motion 312, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’s private member’s motion that comes to a vote on Sept. 26.
“We the undersigned express our support for Motion No. 312 and
the establishment of a special committee of the House of Commons to review
the declaration in subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which
states that a child becomes a human being only ‘when it has completely
proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother,’ ” says
“The Declaration is the result of a group effort to encourage Parliamentarians
to do the right thing. It comes from the realization that we, as Canadians,
can accomplish things working together better than we can pursuing similar
goals separately,” said the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC)
vice-president and general legal counsel Don Hutchinson, who is director
of the EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life in Ottawa.
Hutchinson stressed Motion 312 is not about abortion: “It is about
the state’s concern for the best interests of the child prior to
“The courts have been faced with many challenging situations dealing
with the pre-born child — potential medical malpractice, intentional
effort to kill a child in the womb, efforts by children’s aid societies
to protect children in the womb from abusive mothers,” he said. “In
all of these situations, the courts have felt bound by the decision of
Parliament to not debate and declare whether or not Canada has an interest
in children prior to birth. Canada stands with China and North Korea
in that regard.
“The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) decided to
sign on because of its conviction that a civilized country must respect
every human being’s inalienable worth and dignity,” said
COLF director Michele Boulva. “People today swear by science. Why
then be afraid of what science has to say about the beginning of life?”
“Why refuse to debate? When a law is unjust, it is each citizen’s
duty to demand a new one,” she said.
In addition to COLF, the declaration is signed by Priests for Life Canada,
the Canadian association of the Knights of Columbus, the Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada (EFC), evangelical churches from Baptist, Pentecostal,
Mennonite and Reformed traditions, REAL Women of Canada, the Christian
Legal Fellowship, and various pro-life organizations such as the Canadian
Centre for Bioethical Reform and WeNeedaLaw.ca.
“We, each from our respective theological, philosophical and professional
traditions, understand human life to begin at some point in time prior
to that defined in subsection 223 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada,” it
says. “A significant number of theologians, philosophers, jurists,
doctors and scientists consider human life to begin at fertilization.”
The declaration, also signed by several physicians and lawyers, the Institute
of Marriage and Family Canada, and Canadian Physicians for Life, notes
that most mothers consider the baby developing in their womb is human.
“Fetology recognizes the pre-born child as a patient along with
the mother,” it says. “The courts are regularly called upon
to assess the best interests of the child, including assessment of the
interests of the state in the pre-born child.”
The declaration also points out some ethicists have argued
the recognition of a child as a human being “comes too early” and have recommended
it should “be put off until up to three years” after birth.
Letters4Life, another campaign begun by Alexandra Jezierski, 17, last
May is pushing toward a goal of 100,000 letters to the prime minister
in support of the motion.
The Archdiocese of Toronto recently endorsed Motion 312 in a Sept. 12
“As Catholics, we firmly believe that life begins at the moment of conception. Yet our criminal code seems to suggest otherwise. Motion 312 provides an opportunity for us to affirm that belief, to dialogue with our elected representatives and respectfully express our views to them,” it says. “There are many within the Catholic community, people of other faiths and no faith at all that have been working on life issues for decades, trying to re-open the debate and determine the best way to move pro-life legislation forward in our country.”