Motion M-312 on the Legal Status of the Foetus : Time to End Conservative Offensives, says the FMSQ

Montreal, May 24, 2012 – The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) is setting itself against the new offensive recently launched by the Conservative MP for Kitchener-Centre, Stephen Woodworth, who is pushing for the adoption of motion M-312 to create a special House of Commons committee that would be "directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth." Motion M-312 has already been the subject of a first hour of debate in the House of Commons on April 26th. According to the most recent information available, the second hour of debate is scheduled for June 7th and the motion should be put to a vote on June 13th.

"Were this motion to be adopted, the process creating this committee would be irreversible. The committee would then call upon a troop of "experts" to answer four questions requiring, in particular, that medical proof be provided to support the contention that a child is or is not a human being before the moment of complete birth. One can readily imagine the collective and emotional delirium in which we would quickly find ourselves should this motion be adopted, not to mention the highly probable demagogical misdirections that would follow," states Dr Gaétan Barrette, President of the FMSQ.

Since 1987, the Conservative backbenchers has been multiplying their attempts to reopen the debate on abortion with a view to amending the Criminal Code to give legal status to the foetus – a notion that does not exist in our current Criminal Code. In addition to M-312, more than 40 bills or motions have been tabled before the House of Commons, the most recent being C-484 in 2007, C-537 in 2008 and C-510 in 2010.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has declared several times in public that he would oppose any attempt to create a law on abortion. Having demonstrated his propensity to completely control his caucus, Mr. Harper is nonetheless giving his MPs free rein to lead the offensive as is the case with this motion.
"It is laughable that Stephen Harper should hide behind his members' right to table motions or to propose legislation, while repeating the argument that a party leader does not control that ! A party leader has both the power and the duty to block this kind of initiative. If he doesn't, it's because he doesn't want to," continued the President of the FMSQ.

For the FMSQ, whether it's bill C-484 or motion M-312, the stakes are identical : defending medical specialists, in the professional and legal sense, because there is the possibility of physicians being taken to court should the Criminal Code be modified; protecting women's right to receive quality care in safe and adequate environments; protecting women's right to dispose of their bodies according to their own wishes; and, finally, preserving the social consensus on the subject that has existed in Quebec for the past 30 years.

The FMSQ believes that it is time to stop giving ambiguous answers to the repeated attempts by backbenchers to propose laws or motions whose barely veiled objective is to give the foetus legal status in order to ultimately recriminalize abortion. Social peace must have priority over the diversity of personal – and especially religious – opinions on this question.

"Stephen Harper has to use his authority as Prime Minister to put a definite stop to these initiatives. He must impose a party line by requiring his delegation to vote against the motion or to abstain from voting. The same applies to the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Bob Rae, who needs to stop hiding behind excuses and instead shoulder his own responsibilities," concluded the President of the FMSQ.

The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec represents more than 9000 medical specialists certified in one of the 53 recognized medical specialties.