On Wednesday October 19, Parliament voted down Bill C-225, also known as Cassie and Molly’s Law. This private member’s bill, sponsored by Yorkton-Melville MP Cathay Wagantall, addressed a gaping hole in Canadian law whereby a criminal who intentionally commits a violent crime against a pregnant woman currently cannot be charged for harming or murdering her pre-born child.
The bill was inspired by the story of Cassandra Kaake, a mother who was murdered two years ago in Windsor, Ontario. Cassy was 7 months pregnant with her daughter Molly. Her killer was charged with only one murder, to the shock of family and friends who were also eagerly anticipating Molly’s birth.
Cassie and Molly’s Law would fully protect a woman’s choice to carry a pregnancy to term by making it a crime to injure or kill a pre-born child during the commission of a crime against the mother. The perpetrator would have to know that the woman was pregnant for the law to apply, and a pregnant woman could not be charged under the bill for any harm she inflicted on herself, including receiving an abortion.
Sadly, the bill was attacked by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC). Ignoring the fact that Cassandra Kaake had both her life and her choice violently taken from her, the ARCC fixated instead on the term “pre-born”. Radical abortion activists have a deep-seated fear that any acknowledgement of pre-born children as wanted, valued, and human will somehow interfere with unfettered access to abortion throughout pregnancy. They continue to insist that protecting any choice besides abortion will be detrimental to abortion “rights”. In so doing, they undermine the meaning of choice and unnecessarily limit legal protection for wanted pre-born children.
This vote tells us that a majority of Members of Parliament are unwilling to support a law against violent crime that would honor a woman’s choice not to have an abortion. They continue to ignore cries for justice and instead allow fear of the abortion discussion to colour their decisions regarding women’s health and safety. Medical teams will fight to save premature babies, but our criminal justice system will not take a stand against violence targeting pregnant women. This devalues the choice of the hundreds of thousands of women each year who desire to carry their child safely to term.
It was clear already early in the debate that the Liberals and NDP feared this bill would somehow undermine “a woman’s right to choose”—even though the bill protects a woman’s choice to carry a pregnancy to term. Has Canada become so polarized over abortion that even the word “pre-born” can shut down a discussion? It seems that this is exactly the case with this bill: rather than be allowed to proceed to the committee stage on its merits, the word “pre-born” has caused its death on the table. Wanted pre-born children remain unrecognized by Canadian law, sending a strong negative message to the women who carry them. Our elected officials in this case chose to be led by fear rather than tackling the sad reality that Canadian law undermines a woman’s right to carry her baby safely to term.
Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall was deeply touched by the story of Cassandra Kaake and Molly – a murdered mom and her pre-born daughter – and did all she could to fight for this cause. Tens of thousands of Canadians followed the progress of her bill and stood behind her in this fight. Yet a majority of MPs voted based on assumptions, fear, and the hyperbole of a small group of opponents.
Molly’s father, Jeff Durham, and grandmother, Nancy Kaake, poured out their hearts for this bill and saw justice denied them a second time. When it comes to choice, Canada’s justice system continues to protect only one, and women who want to carry their babies in safety are the ones who lose.