Is the unborn child a human being?

The unborn child and section 223 of the Criminal Code

Conservative Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth has called for debate on the legal status of unborn children, and he is challenging critics to provide medical evidence proving that they do not become human beings until birth.

In December, the MP called for a revision of section 223 of Canada’s Criminal Code, a 400-year-old provision inherited from British common law that stipulates a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully emerged from the womb. “I’ve pointed out that Canada’s definition of human being was formulated more than 400 years ago and says that a child is not a human being in Canada until the moment of complete birth…Those are the plain words of Section 223, and no one is allowed fundamental human rights if they are not a human being. I’ve concluded that 21st Century modern medical science informs us that children are certainly human beings before the moment of complete birth. If that isn’t true, prove it.”

Section 223 of the Criminal Code states: A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not
a- It has breathed
b- It has an independent circulation: or
c- The navel string has severed.

The President of Planned Parenthood Waterloo, Shannon Dea, argues that medical science “is irrelevant to the question of when a fetus becomes a human being- that matter is a legal and philosophical one, not a medical one.” Science proves irrefutably that the unborn child is a human being from the moment of conception. Pretending that our humanity is a matter for philosophical or legal discourse, whereby others decide whether or not one human being will be recognized as such allows injustice and discrimination to exist.
Woodworth wants to hear abortion advocates’ reasons for why the unborn ought not to be deemed human beings: “If there’s justification for a law which defines anyone as less than a human when that person is clearly a human being, let Canadians hear it.”

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